While writing can be perplexing, intricate, and intense,
it is a beautiful, enriching journey that will provide—in and of itself—the
strength you need to develop your authentic voice.
The world seems to measure us exclusively on our outcomes, what we produce and the quality or quantity of that production. Even those of us with creative souls tend to focus on whether our works have been published or whether we’ve sold enough copies to cover the costs of publication, much less make a profit.
But as you know, writing—in and of itself—is a journey that deserves savoring and understanding. It is oftentimes a rewarding yet arduous path that requires significant introspection, personal grit, and heaps of emotional courage.
Finding Your Creative Voice
Because writing demands both internal and external growth, we have explored this journey with you in recent months—more specifically, the stages of finding and/or reclaiming your creative voice. Based on our experiences with authors and as authors ourselves, Around the Writer’s Table has created a model to assist authors in visualizing, understanding, and embracing their stages of creative development. While our recent blogs have not specifically discussed this model, they have captured its essence. With ongoing feedback from authors, we’ll continue to refine and plumb the depths of each stage in the creative process and, of course, we’ll keep sharing with you what we learn as we go.
Thus far, we have talked about how, at the beginning of the creative journey, prioritizing and creating silence—both internally and externally—provides space to evaluate, understand, and release your creative restlessness, that inner disquiet that can be a driving force in your writing. And as you start writing, experimenting with others’ techniques is a fundamental component of the creative process. As such, exploring different authors’ methods will foster understanding and appreciation of the tools that are most effective for expressing your authentic voice.
After you’ve spent some time writing, it is important to then assess and acknowledge how far you’ve come and how far you have yet to go. Only by humbly stepping away from and objectively reviewing your work can you acknowledge what works for your writing, differentiate yourself from your mentors and teachers, and begin to fully master your authentic voice.
Once you successfully detach, evaluate, acknowledge, and act on areas for growth, you will quickly take true ownership of your writing. As you and others start to understand and embrace your new public identity as an author, objective verification and testing of your creative development should be continuous.
Ultimately, the goal is to fully integrate all parts of your life into mastering your craft so that you no longer have to compartmentalize your creative spirit or wear a mask to satiate others’ expectations of who you should be.
Sheesh. That’s a lot, right? And this doesn’t even consider that you may cycle through some or all of these phases more than once on your creative journey. Yes, it’s a tough trek.
Simply put, writing, like other long-term commitments, can create anxiety and a crisis in confidence as you encounter and re-encounter these various stages of creative growth. You will likely face ennui, fatigue, and an innate desire to throw your hands up, believing that you’ve gone as far as you can in your creative journey.
The Decision Point
Will you keep going? This moment, this decision is crucial and is reminiscent of a story called “Three Feet From Gold,” by Napoleon Hill in his book, Think and Grow Rich. In this story, Colorado miners invested enormous amounts of time and money to find gold, only to get frustrated and quit when they didn’t find any. After they sold their mining equipment, the buyer soon discovered that massive amounts of gold were only three feet from where these miners had stopped drilling.
The moral of the story: “Failure is a trickster with a keen sense of irony and cunning. It takes great delight in tripping one when success is almost within reach.”
When your internal voice of resistance speaks up, review those stages of creativity that you have cycled through and mastered. Evaluate your own experience objectively and allow that experience to serve as evidence of what you, as a writer, are capable of accomplishing. The journey itself—even with all its frustrations, rabbit holes, and complexities—should be a source of confidence to keep pursuing your true essence as a writer.
CHANTA G. COMBS
Chanta is the newest member of the AROUND THE WRITER’S TABLE team and is a regular contributor to our blog. Chanta’s professional experience has been in law, policy, politics and corporate America. However, she finally surrendered to her lifelong passions of reading, writing, and researching, and is following them to new frontiers in her life. As part of that journey, Chanta is currently enrolled in the Graduate Certificate in Editing & Publishing Program at Florida State University. Her goal is to absorb all she can about the editing and publishing industries while also finding new dimensions to her authentic voice. Chanta is a mom in love with her eight-year-old son, two dogs, and two cats and she calls Tallahassee, Florida home.
Gina Edwards is a retreat leader, a certified creativity coach, and a book editor. She is also a writer, so she’s intimately familiar with the challenges and elation that come with being one.
She supports all writers—published and aspiring—who want to write as an act of courageous and necessary self-expression.
Walking the writer’s path hand-in-hand with her clients and students, she helps them establish a writing practice and define a creative life on their own terms.