I spent the past seven months writing—from proposal to manuscript—what may become my first book. It is a different kind of manuscript than what I have written in the past, and my approach to it was also further afield from my previous academic work. I drew from a combination of approaches based on meticulous information gathering, reflection, years of professional experience, and storytelling—lots of writing from the heart.

For me, writing from the heart involves writing in the first person with “I” at the fore and really getting to the core of what needs to be said. It requires a great deal of self-trust, and self-care. As I wrote about aligning values with goals, I was forced to consider many experiences, people, and moments that are important to me, and with intention, for the reader. It meant thinking and writing as a whole person, without being restricted solely to a particular role: self-employed, planner, researcher, educator, leader, student, daughter, or sister. After decades of learning to write skillfully in the third person, especially when writing policy narratives, this steady practice of writing in the first person (not simply in a personal journal) was liberating.

I care about aligning my values with the work that I do, and in life overall; writing from the heart has really put this into practice.

By Leela Viswanathan

Artwork by Leela Viswanathan