Writer, artist and musician, Morgan Harper Nichols is a woman of many talents. You might call her a modern-age blend of Mozart, Dickinson and Picasso. How did this creative rise to stardom in the digital world? On social media, of course.
Today, with more than 1 million followers on Instagram, and a new poetry book called All Along You Were Blooming: Thoughts for Boundless Living, Nichols is becoming a household name, but in 2016, she was just getting her start. At that time, Nichols, in her mid-20s, was going through a rough patch career-wise. She wrote a poem expressing her feelings of dealing with failure and not feeling like she was enough. Turns out, these feelings are a universal struggle.
The poem instantly went viral on Pinterest. In just a few short months, it was repinned more than 100,000 times, even without any tags. Soon after, she started getting direct messages from people saying things like, “I really like this poem. Do you have more?” and “I know you didn’t write this for me, but this is what it means for my story.”
She then began receiving more messages from people telling their own stories—stories of tragedy and loss. It was in those moments that Nichols’ creative block was broken, and she stopped thinking about her own fears and insecurities.
“Suddenly, by writing for someone else and being inspired by others, now it’s not about me,” she explained. “It’s about something greater than me, and that, for me, gave me permission to create and to keep creating.”
“It’s about something greater than me, and that, for me, gave me permission to create and to keep creating.”
Every time someone would send Nichols their story, she would get excited, and she realized that her inspiration to write came from other people. In October of 2017, while she was staring out a window of her parents’ home, she had the idea to start writing people’s stories. So she took to social media.
With between just 10,000 and 20,000 Instagram followers at the time, most of whom were people from the music industry and pretty disengaged, she posted, “If you want me to write for your story, I’ll do it.”
The next morning, she woke up to hundreds of messages. In a matter of months, Nichols was creating like never before. Originally, she thought it would last a few weeks but that was more than two years ago. Today, she still creates poems every week.
“I didn’t know whether this was something that was going to turn into a career or a brand, but I just knew that I was going to keep doing it,” she said. “If I could, even just for a moment, create a space for someone to feel like their story is worth being shared and that their feelings are valid, I just felt like that matters.”
“If I could, even just for a moment, create a space for someone to feel like their story is worth being shared, I just felt like that mattered.”
Today, Nichols manages to balance all of her different art forms with marriage and motherhood. With her 7-month-year-old, Jacob, waking up around 2:30 a.m. to eat, Nichols has learned to utilize her time. She does some of her most creative work from 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. after he falls back to sleep. She writes, paints and draws for hours while the world is dark and quiet.
“I try to keep my eyes and heart open to the opportunities right in front of me,” she said. “Right now, that art is poetry, and I’m really grateful for that.”
Her new book, All Along You Were Blooming is filled with all new poetry. Nichols’ process for creating the book involved a lot of introspection and going back to previously written pieces for inspiration. To go along with the theme of “all along you were blooming,” she found work in old journals, poems that she had been overlooking, and began carving them out more.
“It’s still very scary to think about, but essentially what I did with this book was I went back and shared all the poems I was not quite sure that I was ready to share yet—the things that were a little bit more nuanced, a little bit deeper,” she said. “That’s what I put in the book.”
As for the title, that was inspired by Nichols’ editor.
Nichols explained, “The last line of one piece I wrote was, ‘One day you’ll look back and see that all along you were blooming,’ and my editor was like, ‘I think that’s the title.'”
“My hope is that, even if the shift happens with one page itself—whether it’s the way a flower was painted, the poem itself or the watercolor mountains—whatever it is that catches your eye or speaks to you in some capacity, that you feel heard in some way,” she said.
“My hope is that, even if the shift happens with one page itself that you feel heard in some way.”
Since embarking on this creative project, Nichols says that her worldview has expanded, and it has made her realize that we are all much more alike than different. Although a lot of the people who DM her come from very different backgrounds, she has found that there are a lot of common threads in their stories.
“My hope now, in a time where the Internet is a place to debate, is to be present with one another and start with what we have in common—the pains and the struggles that we share—and then go from there,” she said.
Today, Nichols is grateful to have stumbled upon a way of making art that brings people together and allows them to connect. This art form has made her hopeful for progress, change and opportunities for silenced people to be heard. Her hope is that her work will do the same for readers.
Nichols’ favorite parts of the book? The hardcover, the bold colors and the ribbon inside. It also has a “To” and “From” category if you want to give it to someone, which technically puts it in the “gift book” category, and Nichols loves receiving books as gifts.
Be sure to buy a copy of Nichols’ book, All Along You Were Blooming, for you and a friend!
Images via Noelle Glaze