We all have a story we tell more for our own indulgence or self-help than to entertain others. Sometimes we keep these kinds of stories in journal form, safe from prying eyes. Other times, these kinds of stories seep out to the world when we’re feeling brave and sure. No other story has ever mattered to us than these, the ones that have bits and pieces of us within. The ones that make us addicted to storytelling.
I wrote a post a while back about the differences between exploratory writers and intentional writers where I stake the claim that if you write, you’re a writer. I do believe that. I also believe that some stories are meant to be written to share with an audience, and some stories are only stepping stones of our learning process.
The stories that belong to us on a familiar, emotional, transformational level are the ones that likely need to be kept safe in our sanctuary. They make up your secret garden of writing, and only you should have the key to the locked gate.
Writers tend to heal themselves with story, and often, we don’t know that’s what we’re doing. The characters are fictional (though familiar), the settings are fictional (though familiar), the conflicts are fictional (though familiar). This type of storycraft is where we begin to develop our skills. These stories are the seeds of our creativity, and just like a garden, they need to be nurtured in order to grow and bloom.
But they are better off staying in that garden and won’t do so well if you transplant them elsewhere.
Such stories won’t hold up well to critique or the submission process. And those writers who put their secret-garden stories on the line like that will get their souls crushed.
Most importantly, writers, you must remember that if your secret-garden stories are received negatively, do not use that judgment as testament to your writing skill or ability. Those stories are not where your true storytelling efforts lie, even though you might think otherwise. It’s safe to say you wrote those stories more from a wound or a memory or exploration rather than from a place of intention or purpose or professionalism.
Nevertheless, secret-garden stories are tantalizing and luminous to our souls, boundlessly fun to write. They fill us up with joy and giddy pleasure. The very nature of such stories is what propels us forward without worry or concern over structure, character arcs, or turning points. Writing for fun is absolutely necessary as part of our writer-self care. We must indulge in those stories that light us up but will probably never see the spotlight in a bookstore. We must be at peace with the role they play. Treat this part of your writing journey with clear understanding that some stories are meant only for you.
Set aside time every week if you can muster it, to tend to your secret garden of writing. Indulge in those storylines that might be a bit cliché or so-last-year. Savor the cheesy dialogue or love scenes between your characters, knowing such exchanges would be considered Little Darlings by an editor and likely wind up on the cutting room floor. These stories are where you write for fun—beginning, middle, and end. And where you revise for fun—beginning, middle, and end. And where you read them to yourself for fun—beginning, middle, and end.
Enjoy them for the gift that they are—your portal to a writing world that is ALL about fun.
Have a writerly day!