Note: This is a guest post by James Prescott. James is a writing coach and author of the several books, including Dance Of The Writer: A Beginners Guide To Authentic Writing, available free at his website, jamesprescott.co.uk. Connect with James on Twitter at @JamesPrescott77
The last year was a real struggle for me. For the first time, I fell out of love with writing.
Have you ever felt like the whole writing and/or blogging thing has just become a chore or a burden? Like it’s no longer something you choose, it’s something you have to do, and you’re lumbered with it?
For a long time, I was struggling to figure out why I’d lost my love of writing. And lots of reasons came to my mind, but it was a meeting with my therapist, also a writer, which did the trick.
She reminded me of something I already knew – that when we write, our true selves are speaking the truth to our conscious selves. She suggested I’d become scared of my inner truth. I was afraid of the hurt it might bring, or how it might challenge me, and that it would call me out of my comfort zone.
And I was reminded that’s what a lot of writing is. It’s our true self, speaking to our outer self. True, authentic writing, is born in our hearts. The messages we have to share are already there, we just need to engage with them, and give them an opportunity to speak.
The challenge for us as writers is to have the courage to engage with what’s deep within us. Because that’s where we’ll find the message we were born to share with the world.
After this conversation with my therapist, I reflected back on a few years ago, to the time I really found my voice and recalled the simple, practical steps I took which helped me get in touch with my inner writer, and which I knew could help me again. Steps you can take today, to help you find your true creative voice.
1) Free-write for 10-15 minutes per day
First off, I made the decision to free-write each day on the train to work, on an app on my smartphone. I did no editing and no planning. I kept all those ideas in one place. And over time, I began to notice common patterns, ideas or themes which kept repeating. I began to see what I really cared about, what my passion was, and the niche I was meant to write for. I discovered a coherent, clear message with a living, beating heart.
2) Kill perfectionism
Perfectionism can kill creativity. Not only had I struggled with this myself, but as a writing coach, I’d worked with people who were afraid to even begin writing because they wanted it to be perfect, or because their last piece wasn’t perfect. I learned to let go of the need for every piece to be perfect, and ironically, found that I created better, more meaningful work as a result.
3) Stop people pleasing
People pleasing is an easy temptation, but I found that the more I was concerned with pleasing others, the less honest my writing became. One reason I couldn’t find my voice was that I had become too concerned about people pleasing.
But as I began to find my own voice, instead of worrying about people pleasing, I got better responses than I’d ever got for my work – and I realized the best writing is the writing which is birthed from your true, creative self. I noticed that when I stopped trying to please everyone and listened to my heart, I created better work, and more people ultimately paid attention to it.
4) Redefine success
For too long, success for me was defined by money, follower numbers, and all of the other various stats. This just led to people pleasing, which led to inauthentic work and stifled my creativity. So I redefined what success looks like for me, to mean that when I created any work born from my true creative voice and shared that work with the world, that was a success. Regardless of the outcome.
Speaking from my experience of this process, I can honestly say if you commit to taking these four steps, you’ll find yourself more in touch with who you really are, you’ll feel more connected to your inner writer, and you’ll be free to create the work you were born to create, and share it with the world. If you do that, you can rest easy, knowing you’ve found your voice and you’ve been successful.
If you’ve got any questions, or you’ve had similar experiences, feel free to share them in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.
So lets’ all of us step out today, engage with our inner writer, discover our authentic creative voice – and have the courage to share that with the world. Because if we do that, we’re a success and everyone benefits.