Writers: Finding Your Identity

So, I thought I’d do a little post today about knowing who you are as a writer.

This is a tough one. Some of you may have zero problem. But many of us struggle to find our identity.

Sometimes it’s a problem of being able to find our niche. Sometimes it’s a problem with finding our voice. Other times it’s a struggle with our style or with pleasing our intended audience. The list could go on and on.

And this is the thing: There isn’t a soul out there that can find your “identity” for you. It’s there…you just have to dig in and find it.

For me, it was everything.

I had a good story to tell, a good idea. But I hadn’t written a word in years. And the craft of writing? I needed serious help. Sentence structure, story structure, description, rhythm, tone, passive voice…again…the list could go on and on…All of these things were learning hurdles I had to overcome, so I’ve spent the last year focusing on doing just that.

Add to that the fact that I was unsure as to what I needed to be writing.

Romantic comedies filled my head. My original “idea” haunted me. New ideas sprang forth from the depths of my mind on a daily basis and I had no idea if I was moving in the right direction or not.

There are no guides. There’s no one to tell you if what you’re doing is right or wrong and that sucks because I like specifics. πŸ˜‰

I chose to move away from my original idea. It was urban fantasy, which I adore, but I could not, for the life of me, get into the main character’s head. SHE WOULD NOT LET ME IN.

So I moved on (to writing Romantic Comedy). I think many of us do that. (Not write Romantic Comedy, but moving on). We stash a good idea in a drawer and tackle something else.

But that haunted me. Why? Because I hadn’t finished it. There was something about that original idea, about Kate and Gabriel that WOULD NOT LEAVE ME ALONE.

The story was there, I just couldn’t see it and I hadn’t dug deep enough to find all the missing parts. Sometimes uncovering a story is like an excavation. It takes time and LOTS of work. I hear of people who get an entire plot dumped in their lap in dreams. Everything…characters, plot twists, history, everything. And I have to admit, I’ve had a lot of ideas seemingly fall from the sky. But to work for one has taught me something. A) Some of the best things are the things you can’t see and B) If you don’t unearth it, you’re only doing yourself an injustice.

When I pulled The Awakening back out I can’t say I didn’t feel the weight that came with it.

It’s a BIG story. With lots of history and detail and characters that have deep, weighted emotions. Sometimes it’s a dark place to live. But more than anything, I was just beginning to see it in its entirety.

It probably should have scared me but it didn’t. It made that familiar pool of pride and ownership swell.

Whether it’s ever published or not, it’s where I found myself as a writer. It was with this novel that my identity became clear. Can I write Romantic Comedy? Heck yes. But is it me? No.

Will everyone like my writing? Absolutely not. I write from deep emotion. I leave no stone unturned. I’m pretty cruel to my characters. If they hurt, you know where and how deep. If they love, you know the lengths they’d go to hold on to that love. I’m not scared to show blood or death or hate or love. Everything gets ripped down to its core because, to me, that’s real. And it’s how I write.

I can’t write to please everyone. I know my audience.

I can’t edit out every was, had, there or that because sometimes they’re just necessary.

I no longer fear starting a sentence with And or But.

I’m not scared to let my characters use bad words.

I’m okay with making the reader cry and scream and even throw my book.

I love my OMG chapter endings.

I love that my book endings aren’t wrapped up in perfect packages with pink bows.

I like that I write from a raw place.

I know there is a lot of advice out there to wade through, but my advice is this: Dig deep. Don’t give up on a story you love. Don’t try to please everyone. Write what makes you cry, what makes you laugh, what makes you love. There’s not a whole lot of deviation from the things that move people in their core. So dig deep. Find a deeper meaning. And study. Read your heart out. Learn story structure. Study other authors works. Break them down. Don’t force yourself to write something that’s not you. Find what makes you happiest. But mostly, just write. Your identity as a writer will make itself known. Just keep digging.

β€œFor there are two distinct sorts of ideas: Those that proceed from the head and those that emanate from the heart.”
― Alexandre Dumas

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  1. Great post.

    It's so important to find out who you are…as a writer.

    It took me several bumpy years to tussle with who I was, and who I thought I was, and who I was trying to be.

    Thanks for the award!!! You are so sweet! It will be a feature in my post on Friday.

  2. Wonderful, poignant post!

    My first ever novel was a complete disaster, but I loved it. I love the story, the feel/atmosphere, the characters…it was part of me. I shelved it only to bring it back out and rewrite from scratch. Then again. And again. I'm on its 3rd or 4th re-invention and almost done with it. I've made changes, but the core of the story has remained the same. My writing has improved since I learned about the craft of writing, and I'm glad that I didn't turn my back on it. Even if it doesn't get published, I'll still be proud for having written it for me.

    Good luck. I'm sure your work is fabulous because you're real and true to yourself. And that's the best kind of writer (and person) we want to be. πŸ˜‰

  3. Until about a year ago, I didn't know who I wanted to be as an author. I knew I loved borrowing from other stories and rebuilding them, and I knew I'd written one Jane Austen story I quite liked, but somehow I hadn't put that together.

    Then I found the online Austen community and realized that I love these people. They speak my language–or should I say that I speak theirs? I want to write books for them forever.

    So now, I am an Austenesque author… with occasional side-trips into things like pirates and Robin Hood.

  4. I've been struggling with this tremendously. So much so, that it's caused me to just stop writing because of fear. Thank you for the post. I'll probably need to reread this often.

  5. A good post I should say. I'll be sure to keep coming back to this blog for updates. I love your point about not being able to please everyone. I feel that I struggle with dialogue more than anything. I never had to struggle with finding my writing voice though.