May 07, 2015

Writing Down the Stirrings of Our Heart -- Ramona Heikel

I believe some of the most profound changes in readers happen while reading personal writing.  

I am always open to learning and inspiration, and want to know and understand others’ feelings, thoughts and motivations, so I gravitate toward personal essays and similar fiction.  Many personal pieces are positive and give us a warm feeling.  Others are full of difficult experiences, and when we read them it’s as if we were partaking in their grief, anger or misery.  Actually, I am willing to do that, as long as they are not sensationalistic, intended to startle or shock, and as long as there is a benefit.  My favorite authors of personal writings use introspection, contemplation, and analysis in order to help readers gain some new insight or encouragement.

All this about reading personal writings is just to say that I want to keep these in mind when I am the writer.  It is important to me to have a strong worthwhile purpose and message that will result in a revelation or inspiration for the reader.

It is also important to me to be upbeat.  Although I spill almost everything out in my journals, even in that private place I prefer to be positive and not dwell overly much on things that are hurtful or upsetting.  I guess it’s because I plan to re-read them, and I know what I’m talking about, even if I don’t give all the gory details.  Or I think that someone else might end up reading them, and don’t want anyone to misunderstand them. 

Similarly, I want all my “public” writing to uplift and encourage, and don’t usually have a problem being transparent and honest about my own foibles, mistakes, failures, confusion, revelations, relationships, hopes, dreams, and limitations.  But I don’t want a reader to feel upset or depressed.  So in my writing, I find myself hesitant to share the negative—the sad, tough, painful—things in my heart. 

However, God may have other ideas.  I recently wrote a draft of a short story in which I had the main female character struggling with something I’d struggled with years ago.  I was surprised to find the character narrating my story, something that I hadn’t thought of for a long time, and that I’d never really talked about with anyone before.  But there it was, right there all over the page where someone could read it.  I felt uncomfortable and exposed, and considered erasing it.  But then I decided just to go with the flow and write it all out.  

That was a new experience, and now it feels like it’s “out there”, even though at this point I would feel embarrassed and ashamed for people to read it.  And maybe that’s as far as it was supposed to go—in my mind and on my notebook, for me to ponder and pray about.  One day I may decide it should be available to the public in some form, but for now, I’m just feeling excited to realize that my quick prayer for God to guide my writing was clearly answered in a significant way.

William Wordsworth encouraged his wife to “fill your paper with the breathings of your heart”.  It takes courage and skill to do that, and not everyone tends to be aware of the stirrings inside, or to have the ability to write words to describe those stirrings.  But we writers do!  So we need to breathe out the words in our hearts.  I believe this is one of the most important ways that heavenly love and wisdom are communicated on this earth.

Ramona Heikel


  1. I think when we are vulnerable and share the stirrings of our heart, then that is when people climb inside our books and relate. Well done and thanks for being vulnerable here, Ramona.

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  3. I guess this is why we are encouraged to 'write what we know'. It becomes authentic and people respond to that...

  4. I agree that we as writers need to breathe out the words in our hearts for all those people out there who connect and understand but are not even aware of their own stirrings or do not have the ability to write the words. That encourages me to write honestly. Thanks Ramona.

  5. Ramona, thank you for your breathings here. I encourage you to be willing to risk sharing the story you think would cause shame ... shame is incredibly debilitating, but when we only write the positive, we miss out on something powerful. Whatever your struggle has been, I am certain you are not the only one to have struggled with the issue. I am also a big fan of personal essays, and I almost passed off one well known Christian writer as being too upbeat, and unreal ... but then when she started to share some of her "shame" I connected on a much deeper level. Positivity rings truer when it has gone through the darkness ... it shines more brilliant!

  6. When we write "the breathings of our hearts," most of us will find a deep well--not for sensationalism, but for understanding humanity, including the humanity that is in each of us. In the Bible, we read of people who sinned, who made mistakes, who were sometimes ruthless. Think of David who committed adultery, Jacob who tricked his brother out of his birthright, Mary Magdalene who had evil spirits and demons. . . We could all go on from there. God loved these people as they were, but he loved them too much to leave them that way.

    For me, the more difficult times in my life have brought me closer to God. I've survived many teachable moments. God has loved me through the rough times and he continually sets me on higher ground.

    I appreciate what you're saying in this, Ramona: "So we need to breathe out the words in our hearts. I believe this is one of the most important ways that heavenly love and wisdom are communicated on this earth." To God be the glory.

  7. Thank you, dear friends! You have taught me so much, and inspired me. I so appreciate all your thoughtful comments!


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