Sounds easy, right? But anyone who writes will tell you that there is a lot more to self-expression than meets the mouth.
I remember once upon a time when I was in my twenties and getting an astrological reading. The astrologer, whose name was Mary, finally said to me about three quarters of the way through our conversation, “You need to speak up, Ms. Virgo Moon. Speak up!”
I was slightly startled and I sat there blinking for a moment. Mary had been pretty sensitive to my twenty-something angst up until that point, but about “speaking up” she seemed to have struck a key point.
The only problem was that I had no idea, if I ever did decide to speak up, what I’d say. How can I communicate well with you, if I don’t know what I think, feel, or sense?
My thoughts in my twenties were a swirl of self-consciousness, neediness, and voracious appetites. The same can still go for today if I’m not centered when I express myself. If that happens what you are likely to hear mostly are complaints, concerns, and whatever else happens to be chafing my mind at the moment.
On the other hand, if I’ve spent some time writing before we talk, I can get a load of chatter off of my head and settle into my deeper mind, I can tell you about the things that matter most. Share revelations. Maybe even experience an epiphany and capture it like a lightning bug.
What I’ve learned over the years of slow self-revelation is that when it comes to self-expression, the key isn’t to censor what you think. The key is to be able to tell the difference between someone you can say anything to and someone with whom you should probably stick to polite conversation.
Have you ever noticed that there are an awful lot of people in the world who wish to only speak about superficial things? Don’t try to share your deep mind with these folks because you will likely just make them uncomfortable. Find some deeper minds that compliment yours. Tell them what you really think because on the other side of what you really think is the truth. Not just any truth but yours.
Remember the movie, “Say Anything”? Remember how Lloyd Dobbler said he was looking for a “dare to be great situation”? Here’s who you can say anything to: people who love you, best friends, and pieces of paper. If you want to find your dare to be great situation, explore these possibilities first. And then you will find out what you think followed swiftly by what you want to say. That’s how you get beyond polite conversation to the material that really matters.
Express means to say, to show meaning, to reveal your thoughts. If your thoughts come tumbling out like circus clowns, then so be it. But find the tribe of folks who will allow this to happen if you want to get to your deep mind.
When was the last time you were with someone who would allow your thoughts to just come tumbling out? Stick with those people. Listen to them too. Sharing the stuff found in your deep mind with another person is probably the most important gift in the world…and the rarest.
Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (both for Writer’s Digest Books). A platform development coach and consultant, she teaches writing career development, hosts the Northwest Author Series, and is the publisher of several e-zines including Writers on the Rise. Christina blogs at The Writer Mama Riffs and Get Known Before the Book Deal, and speaks at MFA programs, literary events, and conferences around the country.