Fight, Flight or Write

If you know anything about psychology, you know that as humans, we are have an innate "fight or flight" response that's embedded deep within ourselves. When something puts our emotions into overdrive, we either want to run far, far away, or we want to stay and fight. We can't control it. It's real. It's serious. It's proven.

For some of us, our response goes beyond that. For some of us, we write.

Our heads swirl, our emotions run high, and the only reasonable thing that we can do is take to the keyboard and get everything we are feeling down on paper. Call it a coping strategy, if you will. I am one of those people.

I can't tell you the amount of email drafts I have in my inbox addressed to my husband, never sent, because I had to organize my thoughts on paper before I could organize them in person. I talk in circles, a lot. Sometimes, I was so equally proud of what I wrote and heated about the subject, that I did hit the send button. To my dear husband, my most sincere apologies for these few emails you've received.

So, how do we harness the power of everything we're feeling? How do we turn our emotions into productive conversation? Friends, I have a few tips for you. If you're like me, you probably have some tips to add to the list - so please do!

1. Just write. I'm serious. Whatever you're feeling, get it out. Pretend that the laptop screen is your best friend, and the keys you're frantically typing are the equivalent of the words spewing out of your mouth over margaritas at happy hour to your best girlfriend. She just bought you another round. Get it all out. Even the tough stuff, the stuff you hesitate about writing. Get every last piece out on that screen. And then stop.

2. Put it away. Do not hit that send button. You couldn't anyway, because it's not like you drafted a real email, right? Good. Put it away. What you have just written might be messy, it might be nasty, but I bet getting it out of your insides made you feel better. Close the laptop. Go make some calming tea. Relax. 

3. Review. Review. Review. Somewhere in what you wrote, there's some gold. There's something raw and real and something that you've learned about yourself. Dig. Dig deep. Inside of your newly crafted piece, there's a light bulb just waiting to go off. Find it.

4. Revise and share. Take out all of the bad grammar and the parts of your story that you might be embarrassed to have your grandma read at Thanksgiving in front of a table full of relatives. Soften it up. Use that single light-bulb and turn it into a city full of bright lights. And then, when you're ready, share it with a couple of people who you know, and who you trust. And who you trust will tell you if you've gone off the deep end.

5. Find your media. Post that piece on your blog. Link to it on Facebook, Tweet about it, find a photo that relates and makes you smile, and post that photo to Instagram. Ask friends to share it.  You created something that came from YOU. Be proud.

My first successful piece of writing

was posted on The Huffington Post, and in a week had over 4,500 likes and shares. The reason it was successful is because I just wrote. I put it away. I reviewed it and shared with my tribe, and then I gathered up the gusto to put it out there. And the reason it resonated was because it was real. So, so real.

It's easy to get to step one. It's not so easy to look at your raw emotions in the face and craft them in a way that will resonate with others. If you can do it, I want to read what you've written.