The Writers Identity: Exploring the Writer Within
Les Edgerton writes in his book, Finding Your Voice, that the best way to find your voice is to write autobiographically. "Writers will never find a powerful, evocative voice until they learn to be bone-deep honest with themselves, open and vulnerable." I believe that Mr. Edgerton is on to something. In my experience, the best writers are the ones who dig deep within themselves and pull out the rawest pieces of who they are, filling their pages with words that leave their audiences wanting more. If I could interview an author whom I admire, I would most want to know what helped him or her get to that magical place.
My interest in how writers express their individuality began after I completed my training as a coach. I thought carefully about the kind of clients with whom I most wanted to work. I knew that I would be most fulfilled working with writers due to my passion for the written word. It became important to me to work with writers who needed assistance expressing their creativity and exploring what they most wanted to contribute through their writing. However, my experience as a therapist taught me that this couldn't be accomplished without building a trusting relationship with my writer clients, accepting and identifying with their vulnerabilities, and gently taking them on a journey through self-discovery.
It's not news that people are shaped by their environment, life experiences, and values, and that their uniqueness is expressed in almost everything they do. What is fascinating to me as a therapist and coach is how people express their individuality. What sets one person apart from another? How do writers' experiences shape them? In my coaching practice, I help writers through the process of self-exploration by getting answers to the following questions:
*What is present when you are at your best?
*What are your strengths?
*What are you passionate about?
*What can you not live without?
*What are your values and what do they say about who you are?
*What do you want more of?
Furthermore, writers must be aware of their limitations, to learn what their weaknesses are so they can begin the process of moving from a place of stagnation to success. To clarify writers' limitations, a good exercise is to list any fears, problems, and resentments connected with their writing projects. Some examples of self-exploratory questions that can assist with this process are:
*What habits hinder your creativity?
*When do you resist writing?
*Where are you too comfortable?
*Where is the place you don't want to go?
*What are you tolerating?
*What do you want less of?
I ask writers to remember why they choose to write and to think about what they want to create with their writing. To explore this issue even further, I pose the following questions:
*What successes must you draw from to keep going?
*How can you take your failures and turn them into lessons to be learned?
*How can your losses serve you?
*What contribution do you want to make?
*What helps you to enjoy the process and to allow your project take shape in its own time?
*What do you need to sustain your momentum?
I come from a long line of wordsmiths including writers, editors, and English majors. My mother lavished my sister and me with writers such as Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak, and C.S Lewis. I was in awe of how mere words on a page could stir up my imagination, the visuals in my head entrancing me and drawing me into the character's world. The only word to describe it was magical. How I longed to have such a gift, to be able to tell a story that left the reader mesmerized. I think every writer dreams of doing that.
What is so unique about these famous children's authors? What attracts readers to their stories? They had the talent to develop and express unique voices. They trusted their intuition and courageously painted the pages with their deepest selves. This is the formula that readers are drawn to, the authenticity of a writer's work. When the writer takes the reader by the hand and pulls her or him into the page, as if to say, "Come now, take a look at the way I view my world," it becomes an intimate experience. The author and the reader become as one.
Lisa Collazo, LCSW, Copyright 2005 -All Rights Reserved
Writer's coach Lisa Collazo believes it is through self-discovery that one taps the resources to write freely and express their true voice. She assists writers with the internal barriers that keep them from writing successfully and helps create and implement strategies to move them forward with their writing goals. Her clients include screenwriters, non-fiction writers, fiction writers and dissertation students.
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