Super Secret Writing Questions

I got my first journal when I was about 9. It had flowers and fairies all over the cover, which had a leaf that enclosed the outer edge of the pages and clicked shut into a heart-shaped padlock in the center.

I loved it. I felt like I had my very own Secret Garden that I could carry around with me, and carry it around I did.

I wrote all my ideas for stories in there, interspersed with daydreams about whoever I had a crush on at the time.

Everything I thought and felt went in there, and it all felt safe and secure (truly, it’s amazing what a flimsy padlock will do for a tween’s peace of mind).

Since then, I’ve had diaries and journals of all kinds, but none that I ever loved so much as that first one. Without a padlock, none of them have feel quite as secure.

Over time, as I got older, took a few knocks and started to develop emotional armour, the stuff I wrote in them became less and less meaningful — less likely to incriminate me as a romantic dreamer should anyone happen upon an open page.

In high school I started writing as though someone was going to read each entry, and that I’d be held to account for everything they found.

This went on for years, until I realised that I was now simply taking the minutes of my life, rather than experiencing any of it.
Instead of being cathartic, introspective or revitalising, my writing had become just another protective habit I could use to prove that I was doing what I was supposed to.

The lightbulb went off one day when I realised that I could just make sure my writing stayed private.

I could protect the books I wrote in, so that the writing itself could be as vulnerable and unvarnished as I liked.

These days I try to dive into my Super Secret Stuff head first on a daily basis. There are a few questions I lean on when it’s not coming naturally, and you are most welcome to make these your own whenever you need a little jump start:

  • What’s at front of my focus right now?
  • Where is that coming from? Why does it feel important?
  • What do I need to learn from this?
  • Why do I want to remember this?

It’s very easy to avoid the soft squishy stuff that lives underneath all your armour.

Pushing down your vulnerabilities and quiet dreams is a great protective mechanism. But do it for long enough, and life starts to feel hollow. Your writing stalls. Your relationships drift. You stop feeling like yourself.

You don’t have to share all your Super Secret Stuff with everyone. It’s often better that you don’t. But if you want a full life, a creative life, you have to at least acknowledge it all to yourself.

Answering those four questions on a regular basis will get you going, as soon as you’re willing. Get writing, and the rest will follow.