How Writing Helped Me Remember I’m a Human Being, Not a Human Doing

Written By: Bree Smith

Bree Smith | Coach, Author, & Poet

Think of yourself as a child, maybe 5-7 years old. What were the activities you participated in because it sparked joy for you? What did you reach for because it was something that brought you a sense of creativity, imagination, and play? Writing was that for me. I would pick up a pencil and pad of paper any time I could, writing down thoughts or ideas or little stories. I mean, what seven year old needs to write a to-do list for the next day? But that was me, and my little self loved it. 

But then seven turned to nine, and nine turned to 12, and as my little self started to grow up, there was less time and attention to the activities I enjoyed, and more time focused on what skills I possessed that could be transferred to my academic experience, resume, and eventually career. This experience was something that was placed on me from parents, my environment, and even myself. 

So in my early adulthood, I no longer wrote. I also carried a concrete narrative that because I didn’t have a degree in literature, I didn’t have the credibility to consider myself to be a “writer”. Because I only knew of poetry to rhyme, I couldn’t be a poet. Because I still get confused by the difference between a noun, adjective, and verb, there was no way I could “earn” the title of a writer.

Fast forward to the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to claw at any type of normalcy, and a friend of mine recommended I do a 27 day “free writing” challenge. Free writing is the practice of taking a prompt and getting pen to paper – no attachment to grammar, spelling, anything,  just allowing 15 minutes to show up for myself and let whatever might want to pour out of me onto the page. After those 27 days, I looked back to this stack of pieces, from my mind and soul, and thought “Wait, I wrote that!? That came from me??” Don’t get me wrong, some of them weren’t great, but that didn’t matter. I had found this practice of using writing as a tool and space to just be with me – without any expectations, need for outcomes, but to just be.

“I had found this practice of using writing as a tool and space to just be with me – without any expectations, need for outcomes, but to just be.”

From that challenge, I started incorporating free writing into an almost daily practice. Then I got a little braver and started reading some pieces out loud to friends. When I spoke the last word, I would look up and there would be tears in their eyes. Statements of “I have been feeling this way but didn’t know how to describe it. You just did. Thank you.” 

Writing has now become a core piece of my life. I have since published a book of poetry, host creative writing classes in person and online, and coach individuals and professionals on storytelling to create a greater sense of belonging within themselves and those around them. 

I compare my practice of writing to a seed – although this journey has taken on limbs of outreach and community that i’ve created, or has taken on roots of a practice for reflection, processing, and healing, it all comes back to this seed: this seed of taking time to show up for myself and just B E. To remove the lines of the box we have been put in and just allow whatever is within me to come out of me and onto the page. To get that inner critic that takes over too often, put it to the side, and tap into my creative unconsciousness. 

And that is what I want to share with you. To give yourself permission to show up for yourself, without any attachment to an outcome or the lines of a box. To use writing as a way to discover a little more about yourself and feel brave enough to show yourself a little more authentically to you and those around you. Because after all, we weren’t meant to be human doings, but human beings. 

P.S. – I can’t talk about writing without sharing a little poem with you, right? Below is a piece you can find in my book of poetry “From Burn to Bloom”. 


You have permission to still feel accomplished even if that to do list remains unchecked

You have permission to give up on saving the plant that refuses to survive

You have permission to stare at the wall for some time because it’s all you can do 

You have permission to leave that ikea furniture unassembled

You have permission to sleep in and have a slow, lazy morning. That structure can wait 

You have permission to scream into the pillow even if you’re unsure why

You have permission to reach for that peanut butter cup instead of the carrot stick

You have permission to thank yourself for washing the clothes but not folding them

You have permission to enjoy the slowness of now instead of the rushed, fleeting moments of before 

You have permission to cry at the video of the elderly couple reuniting after a long stay at the hospital 

You have permission to lower the armor and say “this is hard” 

You have permission to be softer both physically and emotionally

You have permission to feel the feelings

You have permission to embrace this new being you are

And you have permission to love the hell out of this new you

About the author » Bree Smith

By day she works in tech as a leadership development coach and company culture champion, empowering leaders to practice emotional intelligence at the core of their work and influence their team members to do the same. 

By night, she is a poet and writer, a published author, and host to creative writing classes centered around using writing as a tool to bypass the inner critic and connect to our creative unconsciousness. 

Bridging these worlds together, Bree offers workshops to empower individuals and groups to cultivate more creativity and connection through finding one’s voice and sense of belonging through writing, with a splash of vulnerability. 

Bree lives in Salt Lake City Utah with her incredible partner Filiz and their sweet baby angel dog Moose (and 70 plants). They spend part of their time living in their short bus, BABS, to explore the US National Parks and escape the cold winters of Utah.

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