Henri Nouwen

How Do We Find Deep Wells of Hidden Treasure in Our Writing?


Spiritual writer Henri Nouwen said, “… good writing emerges from the process of writing itself.” You don’t know what you believe, what you want to say, who you are, or what story to tell, until you actual write something.

Your best ideas, or first ideas, come from the act of writing. Here’s the entire quote:

“Writing is not just jotting down ideas. Often we say: ‘I don’t know what to write. I have no thoughts worth writing down.’ But much good writing emerges from the process of writing itself. As we simply sit down in front of a sheet of paper and start to express in words what is on our minds or in our hearts, new ideas emerge, ideas that can surprise us and lead us to inner places we hardly knew were there.

One of the most satisfying aspects of writing is that it can open in us deep wells of hidden treasures that are beautiful for us as well as for others to see.”

I don’t obsessively plot or plan. When I write, I’m discovering what I believe as I go, what I feel, think, and trying to tap into the most honest part of myself.

Most of my articles and books didn’t start with grand ideas. They started with a seed, a kernel, or some nebulous thought.

I trust the subconscious and spiritual and creative side of my soul. I believe all writing is more of a mystery and spiritual than we give it credit. We don’t quite know where the ideas and stories come from. But they come.

Choosing this way of writing free and unhindered is terrifying. Like walking into an unlit cave with no exit in sight.

I could choose the path of least resistance. Write what’s expected of me, what is easy, scripted, what sells, and what will get the most clicks. Or, I can write, and write, and see where it leads. Tap into the most honest place I know at the moment.

Maybe finding what Nouwen describes as,

“deep wells of hidden treasures.”

How do we find these treasures?

Butt in the chair.

Not daydreaming, outlining, and reading. I think treasures are waiting to be found but not until we fire up the laptop or pull out our notebooks and sharpen our pencils.

There are ideas, thoughts, and stories existing deep in our souls. Things needing to get out. Stories to be told. Messages to be shared from the heart. Things that might scare or comfort.

But we won’t know until we write.

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