Write with Joy

Barbara04Before I could find the joy in writing, I had to lose it, miss it, and search for it. I lost it soon after the first book proposal I ever wrote sold to a big New York publisher. At first I was elated. Then I panicked. This was in 1988. I was young, excitable, and more than a bit unrealistic.

I thought the book would sell a million copies. I figured I’d be set for life. I didn’t count on the difficulty I would face as I sat down to do the work. I indulged myself—tortured myself, actually—with grumpiness and insecurity.

Recovery Resource Book CoverThis wasn’t the book I wanted to write, I told myself, and I couldn’t seem to write it the way I wanted to, and who was I to think that just because I could write a book proposal, I could write a whole book? I planned compulsively, researched relentlessly, bit my nails to the pink, did not start smoking again, did not write much or show anyone the clipped paragraphs I did manage to write, and when my agent intervened, I cried, started to write in earnest, was not satisfied with my output, consumed a lot of hard pretzels, cried, kept writing, took up jogging, quit coffee, ate a lot of ice cream, cried, researched, got massages, cried, kept writing, until the rhythm of the work carried me along and The Recovery Resource Book was born. My baby.

After my fifteen days of fame had elapsed, I retreated for about a dozen years into my secret writing life, where I searched for and found more nurturing and productive ways to write. I began to lead and participate in writing groups for women, and as I studied, wrote, shared, and taught, bit by bit, I let go of the self-limiting beliefs that had held me back.

"Moon Goddess" copyright Josephine Wall.

“Moon Goddess.” Image copyright Josephine Wall.

For several years I’ve been developing a guide to overcoming self-censorship, which is designed to help women turn writing blocks into creativity boosters and transform their writing and their lives. Writing as transformative art is also the focus of my blog, which features essays about writing and the writing life; interviews with writers; opportunities, tips, tools, and resources for writers; and inspiring stories and quotes from writers and artists.

Over the years I’ve had the chance to get to know hundreds of writers, from beginners to major award winners. Everything I know about writing comes from personal and professional experience, and that includes my good fortune in meeting and working with some of the best writers and writing teachers in the country.

Writing is transformative—a process to explore, a practice to embrace, an art to celebrate. The more I learn about writing, the more I have to discover. That’s where I find the joy. That’s where I hope you find the joy, too!