It would be more apt to phrase this as “The alien I wear” but that sounds a little too… serial killer for this writer. We get enough looks as it is with our search histories, don’t we? I could also title this How to get out of a writing slump but that isn’t as authentic as I want it to be. Regardless of how I title this or write it, this is a personal blog entry to me, more so than most.
That’s because I just endured several years of torment before coming to this conclusion. And finally, after oh let’s say, seven years? I’ve come out of my writing slump.
My writing slump looked different than most, I would say.
I wrote four books in that time period and well over a thousand poems, probably well over two thousand. I wrote short stories for fun, contests, school, and received incredibly high marks on all of my writing that I submitted.
I understand that this seems like I had no issue. No slump at all. Except that when I examine how I was writing, there was a crucial difference from my writing before and my writing now:
There was no joy in the production.
The sound of pen to paper annoyed me. Clacking away at keys made me agitated. The prose I was writing was fine. Maybe some grammar mistakes, readability issues. Of course, everyone can improve and I was no exception. But it was fine.
To me, it just…lacked.
Little by little, in the last four months, it’s improved. I attributed it to Nanowrimo and finally overcoming my impostor’s syndrome. But that isn’t it. That’s not the story.
The story, is that I was not being my authentic self. I was wearing the skin of an alien every moment of every day. That looked like a lot of things to me. Shockingly, how I dressed, my haircut, and the way I conducted myself in public buried my authentic self over the course of many years so much so that I could not even begin to find it when I needed to. When I wrote.
My distaste of my writing stemmed from my inability to expose my authentic self to the world. Before I got to figuring out why I couldn’t do this, I needed to sit down and discover who I am at my core and how I can express that. Follow along here if you’re struggling with who you are or your writing.
What do I dread?
This was pivotal for me. I sat down and thought about all the things I dread. Going to the gym, working out, running, eating, getting dressed every day, going to the store, doing my martial art, writing, talking to friends, and it went on.
It was an uncomfortably long list. I sat with it and wondered Gee, what do I like?
So that’s where I went next.
What do I like right now?
Yoga. Sleeping. Candles. Stuffed animals.
Then, sheepishly, out of nowhere I thought “the color pink”.
It made me angry. So angry that I started hating those dreaded things even more. I was forcing myself to do them and not being very successful at it. I was so mad, foaming at the mouth mad, that I liked the color pink.
Well, if you know me, I can’t leave anything alone. Ever. So I started to really think on this stupid color and why it got under my skin so much. It took too long for me to realize what I had already realized.
I wasn’t being true to myself.
And that started with the color pink.
I’m a girly girl. And if you knew me, you wouldn’t know that. You’d think I was tough, aggressive, indestructible, skin like steel with an attitude that’ll knock out the best of ’em. And strong too.
But I didn’t want to be strong. I didn’t want to look like those super jacked, super cool ladies. Sure, I admire the f*** out of them, but I don’t want to be them. I don’t want to grimace and have tough knuckles that are good at punching. I don’t want to lift crazy heavy or get much stronger than I am now. In fact, I discovered I wanted to lose weight, not put on more muscle and pounds. I wanted to be small. Maybe even a little fragile looking. I didn’t want to appear big and tough.
I didn’t want to be aggressive. I don’t want to fight. I’m sensitive and I love the color pink. I like dressing up in dresses and skirts and frilly things. I love me something sparkly.
I started using good hair care, body wash, lotion, fancy face cream. I stopped working out to gain muscle and just worked out to trash myself because that’s what I liked and it was awesome. I changed my diet, I’m growing out my hair, I’ll eventually get a new wardrobe. Hell, I even admitted that I love unicorns.
But how did this impact my writing?
I think it has to do with my brain no longer spending all of its time obsessively suppressing my authentic self from even myself. With all that free time, energy, and space, I was able to write more creative stories. But a bigger change happened. My prose shifted into something it had been seven years ago, before I went on my own Crusade killing my authentic self. It wasn’t “perfect” like I had been aiming for and it probably wouldn’t have received high marks. But it was notably mine. No one else could write that way, not that I’ve read. It had a voice, a signature that was uniquely mine. And that felt so good to see.
So now, I’m in the process of casting off my masks, throwing them into the fire. I’m not tough, or “sporty”, or aggressive. I’m girly, I’m capable, and I’m a dreamer. I don’t have to be the way I was or stay in a body I don’t like but do appreciate. I don’t have to write the way I did. I can create a new version of myself that is congruent with my authentic self.
If you’re struggling and have been struggling to write for awhile, I do suggest taking a deep dive. Wonder about yourself a little, think about what doesn’t align.