Putting your heart and soul into Writing – Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Charlotte Gilman

Back in 2003 when we first moved from Texas to Georgia, I was at a time in my life when I was doing some major healing and correcting.  Somewhere I had gotten lost, and did not recognize my own heart and soul.  I think our journey from Texas to Georgia was God’s way of taking me to a place where I could heal and get back on track with the goals I had set for myself a long time ago.

I remember reading a story called “The Yellow Wallpaper” in my English Literature class last spring semester (2010).  It was written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who based the story on her own healing she went through.  During the early part of the 20th Century, women were frowned upon should they venture to doing anything outside the home, especially if it consisted of anything which showed women actually had brains.  Charlotte was a writer and artist, and told by a doctor to never do either, because it was affecting her domestic goddess position, causing her to be sick mentally.

In an article from 1913, Charlotte explains why she wrote the story:

“For many years I suffered from a severe and continuous nervous breakdown
tending to melancholia–and beyond. During about the third year of this trouble
I went, in devout faith and some faint stir of hope, to a noted specialist in
nervous diseases, the best known in the country. This wise man put me to bed and
applied the rest cure, to which a still-good physique responded so promptly that
he concluded there was nothing much the matter with me, and sent me home with
solemn advice to “live as domestic a life as far as possible,” to “have but two
hours’ intellectual life a day,” and “never to touch pen, brush, or pencil
again” as long as I lived. This was in 1887.

I went home and obeyed those directions for some three months, and
came so near the borderline of utter mental ruin that I could see over.

Then, using the remnants of intelligence that remained, and helped by
a wise friend, I cast the noted specialist’s advice to the winds and went to
work again–work, the normal life of every human being; work, in which is joy
and growth and service, without which one is a pauper and a parasite–ultimately
recovering some measure of power.

Being naturally moved to rejoicing by this narrow escape, I wrote
The Yellow Wallpaper, with its embellishments and additions, to carry out
the ideal (I never had hallucinations or objections to my mural decorations) and
sent a copy to the physician who so nearly drove me mad. He never acknowledged

I connected to Charlotte’s story and article because I felt that, in some ways, being deprived of my art and my writing for such a long time, I almost went to mental ruin myself.  I lost myself for about ten years because I stopped doing any art.

For those who never have touched pen to paper, putting their heart and soul into writing, it would seem to them that the Doctor’s words may have been correct.  But to the contrary, writing is a means to which our heart and soul is expressed, allowing the emotions to spill forth in poetry or prose, washing us clean of the bottled up jumble of complexity which we need to convey to the world, but sometimes just can not find the right unspeakable words to do so.

I urge you to read “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

Creating my series Legends of Green Isle, other short stories and poems allow me to utilize my art in an intelligent way, to go somewhere beyond the hubbub of a 9 to 5 job, to express to my children my love, to give to my boyfriend a gift of myself through words, and to help others find another world to venture into if days are precarious.  As the main character in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” experienced the restriction of not being able to write, I believe, that should I be denied the time to write or create, it would put me into mental ruin. (But as Charlotte expressed, not to the point of complete degeneration, just enough to make me a little insane and angry.)

Being able to put my heart and soul into my writings help me to clear out the clutter of emotion which deluge me sometimes.  I feel more than other people I know, so these emotions can get out of control if they are not dealt with properly.  Writing is an outlet with which they can be safely vented. (I will be posting some prose and poetry here on the blog soon.)

I think all people should venture into expressing themselves in some kind of art.  My wonderful children all are gifted in some form of art: my son, Chase is a writer, my daughter Calle is a painter, and my youngest, Kelsey is a photographer.  I have seen their heart and soul poured out in their words and pictures.  And my boyfriend is also an artist, although he would like people to believe that he is more like a Nascar driver, but he does write me pretty poetry, and he is fascinated by the sunset and his pictures are breathtaking.

Everyone is this world should be a part of art.  It is a way to express the inner workings of who you are.  I urge you to try it, whether it’s writing, painting, drawing, photography, etc.  Put some of your heart and soul into it.  See what happens.  The beauty of your creation will be awesome.

1 thought on “Putting your heart and soul into Writing – Charlotte Perkins Gilman”

  1. I understand completely! This is how my fascination with writing started and I hope it leads to a career. It has led me to grad school, at least!

    Love 🙂


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