by Martha Alderson
For more than thirty years, I’ve had the great honor of working with hundreds of writers. Thanks to those of you who have openly shared your deepest hopes and dreams, fears and pain while attempting to live your best creative life, I’ve witnessed the effect our inner lives have on our relationship to our writing.
Writing involves both craft and heart. You may have the gift of writing poetically or demonstrating true emotions in your characters. Perhaps you’re able to write pithy dialog, create a page-turning plot and imaginative metaphors, and have mastered how to convey your characters’ emotional development. Yet, without confidence, courage, self-esteem, an openhearted commitment to your work, and a belief in yourself, none of that really matters.
Your inner life has the power to lift you up or throw you into a creative tailspin. Fear, frustration, perfectionism, procrastination, impatience, self-doubt, self-trivializing, giving up, self-rejection, resistance, insecurity, controlling, withholding, resentment, anxiety, guilt are just a few of the shadow traits you may possess with the power to stifle your creativity, squash your will to show up for your writing, prevent access to inspiration, turn you lethargic and uninspired, and kill your creative dream.
“I’m impatient and grow frustrated by the discipline and time it takes to achieve my goal, and then I don’t do it.
“I’m easily distracted and prone to procrastination.”
On the flip side of whatever shadow traits you may struggle with, I’ve found that all writers also enjoy light traits with the potential to override your negative thoughts and feelings, and support and stimulate your creativity. Resilience, resourcefulness, patience, appreciation, devotion, gratitude, trust, faith, acceptance, encouragement, self-confidence, passion, and forgiveness are examples of light traits. When developed overtime, light traits buoy your creative dreams and free your spirit to soar.
“I believe in myself.”
“I focus on what I’m grateful for.”
“I’m a hard worker, and I love solving puzzles.”
Writing takes you on an epic journey of self-discovery. I’ve seen the transformation that happens when writers fearlessly, and even those filled with trepidation, are willing to meet head-on all the obstacles and challenges faced when writing. We learn about ourselves, open up, and let go.
When you acknowledge your shadow trait(s) and embrace your strength(s), you’re capable of infusing your writing with a depth of honesty and truth that comes as a result of inner work. This change has led me to believe that the problems and difficulties we face both internally and externally are lessons created specifically for each of us to advance meaningful growth. The spiritual purpose of creating is to inspire you to express yourself with no doubt or fear.
Use your craft to discover your inner life. As you take writing courses, read books in your genre and about your craft, go on writing retreats, take part in critique groups, and learn from writers you admire, give equal time to exploring the emotional and spiritual aspects of yourself. What sets you back? What sends you forward? As you write and meet an obstacle, take a break. Use that time to dive deep into self-reflection. When you focus on getting to know and better understand your inner life, you too will find lasting benefit.
As wonderful as it is to hold in your hands a novel, memoir, or whatever you write, the even greater gift lies in the inner changes and transformation you experience on your way to success.
Known as the Plot Whisperer, Martha has had a lifelong passion to support women’s voices through their storytelling and creativity. With the help of the Universal Story, she invites writers in Boundless Creativity: A Spiritual Workbook for Overcoming Self-Doubt, Emotional Traps, and Other Creative Blocks to imagine yourself as the protagonist of your own story as you embark on a journey through all the major turning points found in stories and every creative endeavor.