Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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December 28, 2020

A Writer’s Authentic Self

by Tasha Seegmiller

Happy last Monday of 2020!

Most years, there are people who are offering suggestions on how to reflect on what was accomplished, how to plan for a “better” year ahead. I have been one of those people. Seriously, the resolutions I used to set were ri-dic-u-lous.

But I’ve been doing a lot of work this year, on myself, on my valued relationships, on identifying when someone is trying to get something from me versus working toward something with me. And while I am not the first person to talk about the necessity of keeping our eyes on our own path, I do want to have us take a minute, in this typically quieter time of the year, at the end of a tumultuous everything, and be honest.

Grab a notebook, open a new doc, and write your unfiltered, honest answers to the following:

1. Did you write as much this year as you thought you would?

(This one’s pretty much a yes or no…) (remember honest and unfiltered)

2. What allowed you to do so?

OR...What prevented you from doing so?

3. How did all that was 2020 help or hinder you?

  • Did your mental capacity and/or health seem to be in the perpetual chute of Chutes and Ladders?
  • Did you have people when previously you didn’t?
  • Did your energy shift in regards to what was required for your job/day to day life/making ends meet/worrying about loved ones/____________, etc.?

4. Does writing nurture you?

I’m anticipating at least ten minutes to answer those questions, if you are giving yourself time and space to be honest with yourself.

And I’m going to be very honest here: the flipping of a calendar to 2021 isn’t going to magically create a shift to what was (sorry…). I don’t want to be the Debbie Downer of WITS, yet I find it is better for me to be very aware of reality and plan for the worst. In America, politics will shift and still be politics. We have a vaccine for COVID and it’s going to take a long time for everyone to get to the point where safety is the new norm. Economies are dodgy, schools won’t really be consistent for a bit, and while we’d all like to look to the sky for the superhero of our preference to come in and save the day, real life is nuanced and hard and complicated.

If you answered no to #1 above, if you look at all the reasons you didn’t, do you have the capability to change any of that moving forward? Do you maybe need to change what you are expecting of your writing, of yourself?

If you have traded writing for sewing, painting, reading, etc. are you at a point in your life when writing isn’t nourishing you like it used to? If you are not under contract/using writing as a form of income, why are you trying so hard to write right now (if you say, “Well Shakespeare wrote King Lear…” that’s the wrong answer).

Do you need to get real honest about how you are spending your time and WHY? If someone asks for shows to binge and you scroll through the comments having seen all of most of them, is that because you are rewarding yourself for a hard day, or are you numbing yourself to the world around you? What has happened to your phone usage? Do you feel more connected to the people around you?

Now stop.

Close your eyes and take a full, lung-satisfying breath.

What do you feel in your neck and shoulders? When you're thinking about how you’d like to progress through 2021 with all the things, but especially your writing, does what you want to accomplish feel honest and true, in the deepest part of your soul, heart, and gut? Does it feel like something you think you should want to do but don’t?

This isn’t fast work. Answering these questions won’t magically make you able to write better or rise earlier to get words in or provide more peace of mind and energy.

Answering these questions will give you a minute to reconnect with the truth within you. To remember what it means to sit with your authentic self. From there, start asking other questions:

  • What is my favorite excuse (real or perceived) for not doing what I want?
  • How do I really feel about how I’m spending my time?
  • What are the things I cannot change/modify/reverse about my reality?
  • Where do I have some choice?

Congratulations. You made it to the last Monday of 2020.

There has been a lot to process, and each of us had different things. Feel your feelings, have an honest conversation, get grounded today, this week, and revisit this again, as you feel yourself numbing or spinning. Just as no one had the answers for how to get through this year, no one has answers on how you need to proceed, except you.

And I believe in you.

Did any of the questions above particularly resonate? What are your favorite ways to reconnect with your authentic self?

* * * * * *

About Tasha

Tasha Seegmiller believes in the magic of love and hope, which she weaves into every story she creates. She is an MFA candidate in the Writing Program at Pacific University and teaches composition courses at Southern Utah University. Tasha married a guy she’s known since she was seven, is the mom of three teens, and co-owner of a soda shack and cotton candy company. She is represented by Annelise Robey of Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Top Image by iXimus from Pixabay

19 comments on “A Writer’s Authentic Self”

  1. Thanks Tasha for a meaningful look at 2020. A big year of Discovery for this writer, and time flew by so quickly - and looking back in wonder at what I did do with articles and feedback well received. Reaching out and learning non stop has been exhaustingly exhilarating; scary because I'm old and the time thief and managing chronic pain is there in large print but, at the same time, I know that I have been writing for more than 30 years and must not desist, even though I may not complete the full gamut of my desires. Thanks to WITS for being my companion in 2020. Wishing everyone safe and fulfilling days ahead.

  2. Excellent post, Tasha. If we can't take a hard look at what we're doing and why, we'll never get anywhere. I've never been sorry after I do it.

    Happy New Year, my friend!

  3. Your post resonated with me. I didn't see it as a downer, but as a real hard look at life. As an author of one novel and two short stories, I needed to ask myself those questions. I started writing seriously four years ago at the age of 67. My confidence in writing is not the highest, and 2020 didn't help. I know where I need to make changes.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    1. I’m so glad to hear it resonated with you. Perhaps the uncertainty all around us has made me more eager to find certainty within myself.

  4. Meditation before writing helps me focus on life tasks and writing projects and offers much clarity. It has also helped me to manage my anxiety about the many challenges the coronavirus has brought to my life and others. I will be asking the questions you pose to myself after today's first 20 minute meditation. Thanks!

    1. I love the idea of getting the mind in a good place before asking it to create. Hope these provide good fodder for the brain.

  5. I've read this post twice now, and I'm still trying to figure out what this has to do with an author's "authentic" self. Am I supposed to reflect on whether I am or am not an author? If you like arranging a story, then you're an author. If you like arranging a story and feel you aren't good at it, you're still an author. The reaction to being discouraged about your own writing shouldn't lead you to question if you're an author. The reaction should be what don't I like about my work and how do I improve it.

    1. I agree that this doesn’t make you an author, but taking time to visit why we are all doing something, if we are doing it to the level we desire is a good reflective practice for everyone, I think.

  6. Wonderful post, Tasha.

    The question, 'What are the things I cannot change in this reality?' has been a major focus for me. I used it to help with work-arounds for many situations, writing included.

    It's been a brutal year but 2021 will be increasingly better.

    Here's to a brilliant New Year!

    1. Brutal in these parts too. Here’s hoping we can transition into 2021 with a little more kindness and grace for ourselves.

  7. This was an excellent post. It brought to light questions we should be asking any year. Sent into a lockdown in March that is still in progress for me, I'm grateful that as my life spun downward my mind opened up. In May, I asked these questions of myself, and more. I realized that in the middle of the worst pandemic in a century I'd been given a gift. All I had to do was take it.

    I took it.

    I threw myself into my editing, putting in 6-8 hours/day every day of the week. Time was meaningless so why not use it all? I also dove into that which was good for my health, continuing my walking (biking, too, during the summer) and taking up yoga. When my computer went down I worked with an ancient laptop on my couch until it returned. I'd backed it up and launched into a drafting frenzy in November that included a novel and a novella. This month I'm working on my third novella and will return to editing in January.

    Does writing nurture me? It does. It sustains me. When I let it, when I embraced it, it didn't let me down. I thrived. I learned so much about myself via my writing and my approach to it this year that I'll never be the same again. You reminded me of all of this and for that I thank you.

    1. I’m so glad this year unlocked the creativity within you! I’m hoping it continues as we move into 2021.

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