Learning who you are is really a part of the process of becoming a writer. You can’t skip it. Knowing who you are as a writer takes trying things to find out. There is no wrong path to getting there — anonymous
Last week, I was talking to a friend — well, it was more the case of being interviewed by friend for a personal passion project of his — about the process of writing and being a writer. That was one of the subjects we discussed but not the main subject although the two are linked.
Anyway, it was great speaking to someone who is a fellow creative and interested in the writing process. I can’t remember the exact question he asked but it led me to make the remark that in the process of becoming a writer you end up learning who you are as a person.
It’s true. Every time you work on a writing project, or anything creative, you learn things about yourself — not in an epiphanous kind of way (though it could happen with other people, just not me), but in a slow burn kind of way that you don’t realize it’s happening until it’s staring at you, giving you a smart-ass smirk.
After I wrote The Raven Sonata, I came away with a more defined sense of what I wanted to do for the next story. No specifics, just certainties. I just wanted to become more ambitious with regards to story and character. I wanted to walk the path towards becoming a more complex storyteller.
In the process of writing the second novel, the more I learned about myself, the greater the clarity I had regarding the kinds of stories I wanted to write in the future.
It’s one part refining, one part clarifying and one part keeping the mind open to ideas that seem whimsical at the moment, but could gain the kind of traction you would want to take into the next writing project. It’s constant evolution.
One of the interesting things about writing is learning about yourself. The characters you create, the world you want to build for them and the research you put in before and during the writing process reveal more to you about who you are. The process opens you up to embracing your true nature. This is more than just discovering you’re really good at playing beer pong or knitting slippers.
And another thing: your 9-to-5 job (or whatever your shift hours are) doesn’t define you. And I know there are folks out there who will disagree with me about that statement, but this is my opinion. Your passions define you. Everything outside of work is a greater determinant in defining who you are. The different passions/interests you have, reveal parts that create the whole that is you.
The time period where I was a horse owner and equestrian revealed a lot to me about the person I am. The good and the bad. And what I learned, I applied to the rest of my life more purposefully. Well, most of the time.
There were other interests I pursued between the equestrian life and the writing life. But they all revealed other aspects of my character.
Now, as a writer (I’ll never get used to referring to myself as an author), there is so much more clarity as to who I am because of the kinds of stories that interest me. In order to explore those stories, I have to embrace all the reasons I want to tell those stories. Some of those reasons speak to the true nature and complexity of my character.
In facing the true nature of your character, you accept who you really are. This isn’t a case of not liking what you see in the mirror and wanting to change it. This is different. This is the effortless acceptance of knowing who you are. This is embracing the fact your true nature doesn’t scare the shit out of you and it never will scare the shit out of you.
The people around you might have a different opinion about that but fuck ’em. You can’t live under their microscope.
I know who I am. Knowing that doesn’t scare me.