Who are you?
I am Renee Linnell — an author, dancer, surfer, snowboarder, and lover of life. I am a serial entrepreneur who has founded five companies and has an MBA from NYU Stern. Before that, I was a model and professional dancer. I live in Aspen, Colorado.
What do you write?
I write memoir — truth, spiritual path. I write about the messiness of being human and about the deep ways we betray ourselves when we try to be anything besides who we truly are.
You can find The Burn Zone: A Memoir and Still on Fire at Renee’s website.
My writing started as a catharsis—I was journaling for months and ended up with over 800 pages that turned into my first memoir, “The Burn Zone”. I had to get my story out of me so I could heal and move on with my life. The more I wrote, the more I owned all that had happened to me, and the more I realized sharing my story could help heal others.
Themes or words I avoid? I don’t avoid words, but I do avoid blame and negativity — instead, I try to focus on uplifting and positive messages. Triumph after tragedy, turning pain into purpose.
I do love what I do. Because I write about my life experiences—with complete honesty, rawness, and vulnerability—I feel liberated when I write. I get to be 100% me, and I know that me being me helps heal the world. (Just as I know each one of us being truly authentic helps heal the world. We are the only version of us there is. When we do not express ourselves authentically, we deprive the world of what only we can contribute.)
Where do you write?
My favorite place to write is in an outdoor café in Buenos Aires. Any café with a garden. I love being an anonymous woman in an Argentine café. I love speaking Spanish and ordering delicious coffee and desserts. And I love that they allow me to stay all day long. I also love to write on my patio, on airplanes, and in hotel rooms.
When do you write?
I write only when I am feeling inspired. I have learned not to push or force myself unless I have to. If I have a deadline, I sit down and just start writing. I trust the Flow will happen, and it always does. I believe we artists are channels for the Divine, and we have to allow it to flow through us if we want to create something truly beautiful. This is why I wait to be inspired—because I know it is not me writing, but forces greater than myself writing through me. If I don’t have the luxury of waiting to be inspired, I begin the process knowing I will write crap, and I trust that eventually, the Flow will happen, and the writing will get better. I don’t set a time limit. I write until I no longer feel like it.
Why do you write?
I write because we are all human, and we all have stories to tell. In the sharing of my stories—with honesty, vulnerability, and total rawness—I encourage people to share theirs. None of us truly knows what we are doing here on earth. Being human is messy, and we are all just winging it. By writing about all my wild adventures (being brainwashed in a Buddhist cult, having most of my family die before I turned 15, traveling the world surfing and modeling, starting different companies, picking the pieces up after life shattered me repeatedly, etc.) I hope that other people will feel less shame around and be more willing to celebrate their stories.
Life fuels me, motivates me, and inspires me. As I navigate through difficult life experiences (breakups, depression, hopelessness, death of a loved one), I know that others are experiencing similar circumstances and can benefit from my experiences and the ways I find my way out of the dark back into the light. As I break free from the constraints of social norms and “shoulds,” I know others can also be liberated by reading about how positively my life has changed once I had the courage to follow my own Inner Guidance.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I love this question! I love it because I heard somewhere that no one has “talker’s block.” And it’s true! So I just tell my stories. I start talking through my fingers. I type very fast, and I just start telling a story with my hands. I don’t need it to be perfect. It’s okay if I repeat myself. It’s okay if I have lots of errors. I just blab blab blab through my hands and trust that over time my blabbing will turn into part of my next book. It always does. (Having a wonderful editor helps!)
Bonus: What do you enjoy doing when not writing?
I love being in nature and exercising. When I’m not writing, I’m in a yoga class or hiking, snowboarding, surfing, floating down a river, biking up a mountain, or traveling. I also love reading and being with friends.
My thanks to Renee Linnell for today’s interview.