Because I Can’t Tell You What to Write, I’ll Tell You

My goal has always been to produce the type of writing that people want to read in the morning. I want to develop a writing style that sets a tone of hope or gratitude or strength for the day, so that readers look forward to reading my work at any time of the day.

When I find that a piece of writing is readable in the morning, I find that the writing is also easy to read after a long day of work or on a day when I’m feeling down. I like reading Mary Oliver’s poems in the mornings because she usually makes me appreciate the things that are so easy to take for granted.

In the poem “Little Dog’s Rhapsody in the Night” from the book Dog Songs, Oliver writes, “’Tell me you love me,’ he says / ‘Tell me again.’ / Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over / he gets to ask. / I get to tell. ” Despite not having a pet dog anymore, these lines bring back memories. And they’re like a cup of warm coffee.

Lately, when I’m in front of the blank page (this happens mostly when I’m writing journal entries since that’s what I’ve been writing the most), I start with I don’t know what to tell you (I sometimes address my entries to a you). Because I kept finding myself writing that phrase, I realized that I do know what to write. I just don’t know where to start. Or I don’t want to be honest with myself.

I don’t know what to tell you because I don’t know where to start.

For me writing will always be about what needs telling. I write this because I keep worrying about what readers will think of my writing. I wonder if they will find it of some use, since I don’t always with write with the intention of providing answers.

As I’m revising this post, deleting some sentences here and there, I realize that maybe the phrase I don’t know what to tell you means I don’t know how to tell you. I don’t how know how to set a tone of hope or gratitude for the day with everything that I write.

I want to turn everything I write into something beautiful or a lesson when maybe what I have to tell isn’t full of beauty or wisdom. Despite this, I believe that the way we decide to tell our stories makes a difference. 

Is there anything you’ve been meaning to write or tell but haven’t because you’re afraid it isn’t beautiful or meaningful? 


List of short reads I found this week related to this topic: 


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My name is Andrea. I am a reader, a writer, and a life-long learner. Welcome. 

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