As a writer, you are told to write what you know, and for Jacqueline Whitney, that’s exactly what she did. For her, writing began as journaling. Her pain became something she used to make herself stronger and now, she uses it as inspiration for her prose poetry. She has over 35k admirers on Instagram who are comforted by her therapeutic words, with the handwritten prose she posts and the text messages she sends to handpicked people. Jacqueline is an honest, brave writer, sharing her words and offering a hand to those who might need a little bit of guidance and hope.
When did you first start writing? Did anything specific inspire you? I first started writing in 2015. Honestly, pain inspired me. Writing didn’t feel like a want at the time. It was truly a need. I never enjoyed writing growing up in school. I had gone through many tough times as a teenager. I got to a point of not knowing how to process it all outside of talk therapy. My mom gave me a journal and that’s where this all began. I created a website called Finding My Verse. I made up my own definition of ‘verse’ as: a purpose, a passion, a path, an absolute fulfiller of life. I shared my journal entries on there. I eventually closed that chapter and began sharing only on Instagram.
What is your writing process like? I write best either right when I wake up, sitting in natural sunlight, or late at night in bed with a dim light and candle on. Before I write, I do at least a one minute prayer-meditation. I close my eyes, breathe deeply and ask my Spirit, God, Love, to guide me. A mantra I like to say is, “God, run your heart through my hands.” I remind myself to trust that the ‘right’ words will flow and if they don’t, that’s okay. If I become frustrated while I’m writing because nothing flows, I step away. Sometimes I write with instrumental music on, other times I prefer complete silence. I mainly write in my iPhone notes or on my laptop. I do love to sit in the sun with my journal and pen, though.
How do you use Instagram as a creative tool for exposing your poetry? How do you market your work through text on Instagram? Instagram has given me so many opportunities and connections. It has also helped awaken my creativity. Many people ask so I will share with you, I use an app called Over to write up my posts. It’s free and easy to use. I love doing simple designing. Yes, hashtags help gain exposure. Yes, tagging accounts to get reposts works — sometimes.
You don’t just use social media to communicate with your fans and distribute your writing; you also have a group of followers who get text messages from you. Will you tell us more about how that works and the benefits of group texting with your readers? There’s an app called Remind. It was created for teachers and their students to communicate via text outside of class. A year ago, one of my reader’s recommended I try it to send daily texts out. I’ve been doing it since! Every day I send short reminders/encouragement to almost 2,000 people. It’s crazy. The moment I send a message, that many people get it right to their phones — as if I’m personally texting them. I love it. I think it helps my readers feel more like I’m a friend rather than just a girl they follow on Instagram. (Editor’s Note: If you want to follow Jacqueline by text download the remind app and enter her class code “@jacwhit” or text @jacwhit to 81010.)
Talk to me about “beyond worthy” — what it stands for and what it means to you. It started as an Instagram post. I wrote on a piece of paper, “You’re beyond worthy of this life.” In the caption I wrote, “Write this on your arm if you have to. Look down and see that you need to be here.” Instantly and continuing for months people around the world sent me photos of the words on their arms, hands, and legs. Some would also send long messages about why they wrote it. I decided to design a bracelet for people to purchase and wear as a reminder. You can find it here. Life is really hard sometimes. I’ve personally struggled with mental health challenges. When I first shared the post, I think I was subconsciously reminding myself that I am beyond worthy of this life. I know this is true. I didn’t always. I find it easier to remind others than to remind myself. Beyond Worthy is more than a quote or products. It is an important, truthful message. We are all beyond worthy this life, love, healing, connection, happiness, success… and so much more.
Are there any specific themes? What’s your writing process like? Some themes are healing, worthiness, forgiveness, processing past pain, mental health, and love. My writing process isn’t always the same. Sometimes it’s more formal – I sit down and prepare my heart. Other times inspiration comes out of nowhere. When that happens, usually I’ll be typing almost mindlessly, reread it when I’m done, and almost question if I really wrote it. It’s such a euphoric feeling.
Do you have any advice you would want to give other writers wanting to publish their poetry on social media or in a book? Be honest with your heart. Hide nothing from yourself. If there is even a fracture of a knowing that someone needs your words, share it. It is terrifying to be vulnerable, but I’ve personally found it more rewarding than hurtful. If you’re scared people from your community will judge you, make a new account. But also, it is brave to share your art. Most people will see that. Your thoughts are woven in humanity. We are all trying to say the same things, just in different ways. It’s okay to not always know what to say when you sit down to write. Be patient with your process. If you want to write a book you can, you must, and you will. But don’t rush it. You will know when it is time. And of course, don’t share everything. Some pieces are only for you. You will compare yourself to other writers… Remind yourself often that your voice is just as valuable and talented. No one has to say what you do: say it. This world needs your words. [cw-mark]