Is writing an identity or a way of life? aka Can you trust the process?

Getting off the phone with a friend, I’m filled with a desire and a need to digest, to try to parse out the revelations evolving within my being.

We talked about writing, mostly. Because he’s a writer, and I don’t know many writers, especially more established ones, and I was curious to get his insight.

I shared with him what I’d shared with a partner of mine recently — the fear that trying to “make it” as a writer, to try to monetize my passion, will ultimately kill it for me.

I’ve now come to an understanding that feels more clear to me, more accurate than the fear of killing my passion: I don’t yet know who I am as a writer.

Trying to put myself out there to get paid to write feels preemptive. I have been writing with more seriousness for half a decade now, and yet I still feel so young in it. I imagine this is in part because of a lack of consistency, an inclination to ebb in and out of it depending on how confident and inspired I’m feeling.

What I’m realizing with more clarity now is that I’m still in the phase of figuring it out, of figuring me out. I am not yet ready to present myself to the world in some sort of clear, defined way and to then demand to be reimbursed for it.

This friend and I discussed the type writing I currently feel inspired to create, which is nonfiction. But in sharing this, in saying it, I already felt like I was limiting myself. Because that’s merely the writing that I’m currently attracted to. Previously, it was political commentary and then personal essays and now it’s something along the lines of this blogging reflective self-help. Over 10 years ago it was screenwriting. 6 months ago I was called to write poetry.

I think I find the desire to pigeon hole, to define clearly and succinctly the type of writing that feels true to me feels antithetical to what the muse wants from me. I have this sense that the reason I am writing so much personal stuff is because I need to get it out of my system, to clear me out for what comes next.

I didn’t have much interest in declaring myself a nonfiction writer, because it doesn’t feel true. Or at least it doesn’t feel like the full picture. I am a nonfiction writer for now. And eventually maybe I’ll write a play, a poem, a fiction piece, a short story, a novel. Or heck, maybe I’ll pivot to a totally different creative medium.

What I feel called to do is to trust the muse and to follow where she takes me. To believe that whatever I feel called to do now is simply that. And what comes next is not yet determined.

In creative endeavors, it’s hard to resist the urge to label, to brand, to define, because that’s what makes you marketable, palatable, digestible to the public. And for many, they are doing this to make money, so you have to in some way adapt to becoming sell-able.

I think my fear of trying to monetize this passion of mine is because it’s too ambiguous still. Submit to places, sure, why not. But presenting myself as ready to be consumed and digested by the world is a different story.

The muse is telling me I’m too foggy, too distorted by all the internal clouds that have been weighing me down. I am not yet a vessel to be poured into. I am a snarled mess to be slowly untangled through each of these reflective pieces.

And maybe this will always be how it is, maybe self-reflective pieces are my calling. Or maybe they are simply a stop on the journey. Or maybe they’re a familiar pit stop I’ll revisit time and again.

I think of Julia Cameron and Elizabeth Gilbert, two women who have taught me much about creativity, and the ways in which they have crossed genres, answering the call of whatever is beckoning to them.

It is not for me to define what the muse wants me to be. It is simply on me to follow, to feel the inspiration rise up in my chest and to then seek an outlet for it.

I do not need to commodify myself and my creative outputs. And I can free myself of the need to monetize them, at least for now. And this freedom creates space for me to grow, develop. To find myself, my voice. To clear myself out so that that which is next can seed and take root.

What I crave is clarity, right here and now. Clarity around what I’m supposed to do, how I’m supposed to do it, how I’m supposed to make this all work.

And despite the fact that it’s not what I want to hear, I have an answer: keep writing, keep trying, keep digging, keep releasing. It is taking me somewhere, even if the the destination remains unclear, blurry, and completely out of focus. It is the call to trust.

I have a conflicted opinion on trust and spirituality. I move between being a deep believer and a total skeptic. I lose the thread often, eventually picking it back up, dusting it off, and recommitting to the process.

The process is what’s it’s all about anyway, right? Not needing to proving myself or morph myself into being the kind of writer I think is cool or more legit. It’s allowing myself to be unfurled by these creative endeavors. To trust that whatever the outcome, it will lead me to a truer version of myself.

I often struggle with things not feeling and looking like how I’d like them to. I guess it’s not shocking that writing and creativity are similar. They aren’t to be controlled by me, to be neatly defined by my logical brain. They are to be explored, engaged with, made love to (I know, it’s cringe — don’t judge me). Like any good relationship, it seems to work best when I begin with acceptance of what is instead of what I wish it was. And in that acceptance, I can begin building, working, allowing it to unfold before me.

And I don’t know, I guess you could say all magic is some combination of dedication and inspiration, allowing the outcome to be more than simply the sum of its parts.

Good luck out there.

❤ ❤ ❤

1 thought on “Is writing an identity or a way of life? aka Can you trust the process?”

  1. I believe that it’s all about the process, though in practice, it’s much harder than I make it out to be. Still, I try to remain positive, in believing that every word I put down is another step in improving my craft. And that’s all that matters. Thanks for exploring these thoughts!


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