Change and Transformation, News, Teaching, Writing

Locating Your Wings: What Butterflies Teach About Our Writing Voices

I adore Monarch Butterflies. They’re lovely, of course. But I know a secret. The Monarch is a bad ass.

Let me explain.

When tiny caterpillars appear in my butterfly-friendly garden, I happy dance. I channel my inner Snow White, gather some netted cages, and provide protective custody ‘til they’re fledgling butterflies.

I guard their transformation because they inspire me. That fluttery little thing is the Ultimate Fighting Champion of the insect circuit. They balance toughness and determination while wrapped in the softest, most vulnerable shell.

They’re a lot like writers, but I’ll get to that.

Everyone knows butterflies are fragile. Anything from car windshields to predators to carelessly tossed frisbees crush them every day. They weigh less than a half gram. Yet every fourth generation flies to Mexico to overwinter. 

Flies. 

To Mexico. 

Powered by butterfly wings! 

If that isn’t vulnerability merged with strength, I don’t know what is. 

I’ve written before about the caterpillar’s rapid growth. They shed their skin each time they outgrow it. Their sides split open and they shake off the old stuff…just leave it and strut off like a diva on the red carpet. 

When fully grown, they hang upside down, shimmying once again out of their dusty old skins and hanging like a jade jewel for 10+ days. They emerge as an adult Monarch butterfly. Wings and all. 

In other words, the butterfly lives inside the caterpillar from the very beginning. Layer after layer sheds until…voila!

Which makes me think…

It’s less about changing from caterpillar to butterfly and more about removing what blocks us from finding our wings.

And, pardon this writer’s long-legged leap, but that’s a whole lot like heart-centered, authentically-voiced writing. 

This summer I’ve worked with a brave group of small business owners seeking to improve their writing. We’ve dug into some vulnerable stuff in order to clear our writing blocks and find our writing voice. 

When we began, some wondered if their writing voice had value. (“Who’d want to read what I write?”) Others feared the blank page. (“How do I even begin?!”) Many questioned their ability. (“I’ve never been a good writer.”) And some simply avoided it. (“I’ll just descale the coffee pot before I start that blog post…”) 

Perhaps you relate? Perhaps.

It’s a process we all encounter at points along the way. Myself included.

Yet these business owners know something. They know potential customers seek connection. They understand their clients crave something real in this fabricated, 5G world. Conveying authenticity on the page (website, blogpost, social media) is as important as being sincere in person.

These business owners know finding their voice…their own writing wings…is imperative.

Why? Because authenticity cuts through the blather. And more than ever, we want people who are real. Truthful. 

It’s a journey learning to get out of our own way…to clear our blocks and value our stories. Finding our voice orients us as we grow. Afterall, everyone is a mix of vulnerability and strength. And like the Monarch, it’s not about changing who we are, but believing the wings are there. Inside us. All the time. We simply need to peel back what doesn’t fit to find them.

Interested in learning more? Heartwired Writing’s workshop Clear Your Blocks; Find Your Voice launches this fall. For more information, or to discuss your customized writing needs, contact me at Katie@Heartwiredwriting.com 

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