Are you a person? Do you write?
You must be a writer then!
I have one more question for you though: do you challenge yourself as a writer?
You may have just boldly declared yes, mumbled a no, or even spat tea all over your computer screen in response just now, and I am here to tell you that any of these reactions is okay on one condition: that it is an honest response.
Now we’re going to get a bit personal now and to do so, I need to let you in on a conversation I had with my partner recently.
In past posts I have discussed how discipline, goal writing and the creative process all play an important part in doing the creative thing you love; it could be writing, playing music or sketching for example. My partner and I discuss these things often but he surprised me recently when he asked me if I ever write without a goal to publish in mind? He asked, do I ever challenge myself, in terms of the quality of pure self expression for the sake of deserving that sense of quality self expression?
I stopped talking and listened closely.
He observed that in writing, we are quick to publish. I was confused because after recently editing an anthology for the Melbourne Writers’ Social Group I couldn’t see how that was a quick process – it took me and a fellow editor/writer eight months!
He, however is a musician and spent his first five years of playing music no where near the gigging stage (excuse the pun).
It reminded me of how I began writing; whilst growing up, I had struggled to express myself and to communicate with my mother who has a mental illness. My mother is super poetic and creative. It was through writing poetry to each other that she taught me things about life, about growing up and it was how she told me that she loved me. We even fought through poetry: I wrote stories to her in poetic prose that told of my plans to abandon her, to wonder off in to the world; she wrote me a poem about overcoming fears and reassuring me that everything would be okay no matter where I was as long as I trusted myself.
There was a strong need for quality of self expression. It was a communication method between my teenage self and my mentally ill but super creative mother. Without quality of self expression through writing, the writing would hold no purpose. And I would not have had a strong and communicative relationship with my mother.
I had to be honest with myself, my partner was right. I have been focusing on too many projects and not enough of personal writing for quality self expression. It is time for a challenge!
When you read articles on the internet about challenging yourself as a writer, do do all the articles say: attend a writing group, join a class every now and then, attend a festival, write every day, set goals, read, read and read; but don’t forget the reason you write. Be honest with yourself. Speak the truth to yourself. It’s not to make millions of dollars, it’s not to keep to a deadline on your blog site, it’s not to get a High Distinction in your assessment. It’s to see change in yourself. To gain perspective. It’s to express yourself amongst the challenges that life presents to you.
And don’t you forget it!