“But I believe wholeheartedly that creativity is a virtue, a gift of character; that it emanates from the spirit of an individual. I had to come to terms with the fact that what I wrote was, in actuality, an expression of myself, of my character.”
My writing journey began in Karen’s Creative Writing Course. I went along the first evening with doubts about my creative capacity and an awareness of my inherited British reserve, a degree of inhibition that I suspected would thwart my efforts to write anything of appeal.
The course proved to be informative, inspirational, enjoyable, and so much more.
I soon learned to seek inspiration anywhere and everywhere, to look at things from a writer’s perspective. It seemed as though a portal to an entirely new universe opened up to me. And pardon the cliché, but the creative juices began to flow with ideas for writing projects accumulating rapidly.
However, when I put pen to paper and began to write, something happened between brain and hand. The words filled the page, but they somehow seemed alien, forming sentences and paragraphs quite different to those I had imagined I’d produce. No matter how hard I tried to alter my style, or attempt a new genre, what I produced was recognizably reserved, conservative, in my mind inhibited. I tried to fight this perceived impediment, to find another VOICE for my creative output.
But I believe wholeheartedly that creativity is a virtue, a gift of character; that it emanates from the spirit of an individual. I had to come to terms with the fact that what I wrote was, in actuality, an expression of myself, of my character. It reflected my essence, my spirit.
And just as I sometimes have difficulty accepting aspects of myself, I also experienced difficulty accepting my writer’s Voice! In fact, I didn’t like it one bit! But gradually, gradually, it occurred to me that if I wish to continue writing, to write with any degree of satisfaction – and I most certainly do – I’d better come to terms with my Voice, get rid of any negative notions I harbour about it, and maybe even learn to love it…passionately!
There is a quote by Bahá’u’lláh that I love:
‘The Great Being saith: Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value.’
The gems in the mine are those qualities of the spirit, gifts of character or virtues that lie potentially within each and every one of us, virtues such as creativity. It usually takes a great deal of searching and effort to bring these gems to the surface, to polish them so they reflect their unique qualities. And in my experience, so it is with creative writing.
A really exciting and unexpected aspect to my writing journey is that, in the process of learning to embrace my Voice, I am learning to bring up from the mine of self, some of those qualities of spirit that make me who I am.
If you are reading this blog, chances are you are already a writer. But if you haven’t yet begun your own writing journey, are having reservations about your capacity to write, are writing but concealing your efforts from others, or are simply bored stiff – and I’m acquainted with people in all of these categories – I strongly advocate you simply begin.
As Brenda Ueland, a writer and teacher of writing, says in her inspirational book, If You Want to Write:
“This is what I learned: everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.”
by Diana Threlfo
A wonderful post, full of wise advice. Accepting yourself – all your qualities – just as you are and in this case, as a writer, your Voice, is something worthy to strive for. I think if we can accept our writing and our own unique Voice without comparing it adversely to others we could just maybe break through that block and blossom. Thank you Di.
Thank you Margaret, for your wise comment. Striving towards acceptance of one’s own writer’s Voice is so worthwhile and frees up creativity.
Accepting one’s own voice, whether it be singing voice, writer’s voice, artist’s voice, frees us up as writers. If only I could’ve sung like Connie Francis! If only I could’ve written like Virginia Woolf! If only I could’ve painted like Renoir. If only I could’ve danced like Dame Margot …
The ‘if only’s’ are our inspiration, not our competition. As you say it’s best not to compare.
It’s hard, though, finding your voice, especially when you’re also trying to work out what particular voice/style/genre the piece demands. For example, at times, I think the piece I’m writing is a short story but after listening to it, it ends up being a poem. At other times, you have to decide should this be fictional or would it be better as creative non-fiction or an article?
So many choices in which to find The Voice.
Loved your column and all the best with your writing.
Beautifully expressed, Anne. Discovering the brilliance in others is a great inspiration. When we see it as competition is when we want to give up.
I agree Anne! I love this: The ‘if only’s’ are our inspiration, not our competition.
So perceptive of you, Anne, and true. It took me a while to gather that the beauty of any participation in the creative arts or crafts lies in our ability to simply take inspiration from the work of others and to not judge our own efforts as inferior…to just keep learning, creating and expressing. Thank you for your insightful comment.
A very insightful post. We are probably our own worst critiques when it comes to our voice. One way of highlighting our strong voice is to experiment with other voices and genres, some genres naturally fit better than others. Some are a definite individual challenge. Taking on that challenge at times can be frustrating but some may experience a sense of freedom, in the end finding new and different expressive styles, discovering different voices. Writing is such an individual expression of creativity and I think that’s what makes it so special. I agree, appreciating the work of others is important and inspirational. We can learn and grow from each other.
Thank you Maree. I love the way everyone’s comments add to a collective wisdom that has emerged from all our individual experiences with our craft.
Lovely article, Di. Very inspiring. I am all too familiar with the disappointing atrophy an idea can seem to suffer between brain and page and, considering the fantastic quality of your writing, I am very glad you are learning to ignore it and love your work!
Your kind comments are very much appreciated Aidan. I must admit, acceptance is so much more constructive than resistance…and freeing too!
An interesting piece Di and very well written! You often hear how people hate hearing their voice on a tape recorder, but this piece made me realise the same response can happen with your writer’s voice. I’m glad you’re learning to embrace your unique style as your own!
That’s an interesting observation Jessie! The first time I heard my voice on tape many years ago, I was startled by the difference there was between what I normally heard when I used my voice and what others obviously heard. As you say, it can work that way with writing too; not just disliking our writer’s voice as we dislike our taped voice, but also, others can perceive our writing so differently to how we perceive it ourselves. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to the blog.
Diana, I just love to read whatever you write. You have a unique style, an evocative and wonderfully descriptive style. That my dear is your voice! No matter what you write about it is a pleasure to read. I should be so lucky. I remember the first time I heard myself on tape. Like Jessie I was horrified. I thought that I had a cultured smooth sounding voice, instead I sounded more like “Kath and Kim” those oh so Aussie barbecue Queens… And I think my writing may be the same. Somewhere deep inside me is a voice that takes over when I begin to write. I am amazed at my own character’s decisions all to often. But when I start to write I am like a runaway train, I simply cannot stop until I have said my piece. I am sure my late husband would say that I talk the same way.
Diana, your blog piece is a personal and evocative piece, bringing a vividness to the acceptance of voice and style and the gifts you have as a writer to enjoy the creative process and your unique and wonderful voice… much to think about. Thanks Sally
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