When you need your writing to be cool

Photo by Ben Weber on Unsplash

You know that moment when you notice that everyone has those shoes?  You know, THOSE shoes.  

And the cool guy was wearing them in the cool movie, and when he drove the cool car, you could see his cool shoes stomping on the pedals to make the cool moves?

All the popular and happy people who get what they want wear those shoes.  The cool people.

Your shoes aren’t cool.  Yours look like boats around your feet.  They stand out, especially compared to those narrow, fitted, cool shoes.

You need those shoes.  You’ve got to have those shoes.

The measure of cool

Do you ache for your story to be just as cool as it felt when watching people with the cool shoes?

Perhaps you discard each idea that comes up because nothing feels good enough.  And when you finally start writing, you get stuck because the language isn’t interesting enough or the content isn’t shiny enough.

You might feel a sick feeling in your stomach when you look at your super uncool document.

Coolness is so urgent and loud.  

When you’re trying to measure the cool factor of your story, it becomes difficult to connect with the story that really wants to be told.  The story from your heart and soul.

Coolness doesn’t endure

Say years later, you finally get a pair of those shoes on sale.  You’re so proud to show them off, you can live with the fact that they’re incredibly uncomfortable (Which makes no sense–how does everyone else wear them?). 

Until you notice… no one else is wearing the shoes anymore.  There’s that familiar hot flush, and you hide your feet.  You carry a big sweater and place your bag on top of your shoes when you sit down.  Just until you can buy a different pair. 

Then years and years later, you find those basically-new shoes when you’re cleaning out your closet.  There’s a hot wash of embarrassment when you remember how you thought the shoes were so cool.  So uncool.

Exploring what “cool” means to you

The word “cool” can be substituted for a lot of different things.  It’s related to acceptability, versus the lack of belonging.  

If you notice some of your frustration with your writing is related to a missed expectation, explore it with compassion through journaling.  Here’s an example:

  1. Define the thought.  

Example: I want my story to be “cool.”  It’d make people see and know the real me.

  1. Get curious.  Where does it come from?

Example: This desire stems from a place where I feel invisible and uncool.  The way I felt in social situations, like I didn’t belong.  Feeling like I stood out and no one understood me or what I thought was cool. 

Or how I felt on the sidelines, watching all my friends playing when I hadn’t signed up for any sports.  Or having no clue what everyone else was talking about, since I’d never traveled out of the country.

  1. Identify the emotions coming up.

Example: I feel sad for that child, that teenager in ill-fitting clothes who felt perpetually uncool and couldn’t fit in.  All those times when my interests were strange or I felt too old for immature behavior.  I wanted to be wanted and chosen. 

I feel sad because I’d never be cool; I didn’t feel it from the inside – it was something I chased through other means like trying to wear the right clothes.  

I feel sad for the desperation to be cool, welcomed, accepted, loved, and to have the sort of positive attention directed to who I really was.  

I also feel sad for this adult me, hoping and praying for a time sometime in the future where everyone who hurt me could see how much MORE I am.  

  1. Imagine holding your inner child.  Identify the needs of the inner child.  

Example: I am holding this child to be loved and attended to, what she really needs.  Her sadness, her emptiness, her neediness, her lack.  She wants accomplishment to prove her worthiness, so that others take note and see and understand. 

Well, I understand her.  I see her.  I care about her feelings.  

  1. Make the connection.  Why does it make sense?

Example: I see the connection between my adult self and child self.  The neediness is around leaving an impression for who I really am (the opposite of invisibility).  And ultimately to be loved. 

There is judgement cast on who I was, that it was bad.  There was a need for belonging, to be loved, to be known, when I can be who I really am. 

So I needed this book to be something I create that lets me be loved, understood, appreciated for who I really am.  It’s a lot of pressure.  No wonder I wasn’t feeling great. 

  1. What’s the core wound?

Example: Underneath the invisibility is feeling like I couldn’t show up as myself.  I had to hide.  I felt like I had to be different than I really was.  Much of my life has been about trying to be different. 

Because other people always seem to have it better, easier, happier. 

At the core, I didn’t think I could have what I wanted by being myself.

  1. Wrap up what you learned and take it forward.

Example: This is something I’m sure will be part of my life’s journey to keep coming back to– it’s pretty deep.  But for now, I can take little steps into the light. 

I know that I want a life where I can be myself, and bring in people who love me for me, instead of contorting to fit the people I know.

There are no right or wrong answers here.  Simply through awareness and acknowledging your thoughts, beliefs, and needs, you can find freedom from the painful inner tension.

Your story is just a story

The urgency to write a good story can stem from an unmet need, like the need for social connection and being seen, heard, and understood.  

These threads can weigh down your writing and make you feel heavy or sick to your stomach when you don’t get it right.  

You might feel deeply disappointed in yourself when you can’t live up to your own standards.

Observe whether you’re putting more stock than is possible into your story or creative project.  

Your story is just a story.  What’s in your heart is enough.  When you feel joyful, that’s enough.  And hey, you’re pretty cool.  With or without the cool shoes.  

Your story doesn’t need to be anything more than it already is to be loved and appreciated.