This month, for the AW Blog Chain we talked about birthday’s and “growing up”. Many of us remember growing pains as we grew through each of the life stages behind us but did you know that our writing experiences similar growing pains?
The Labor of our Love of Writing
It all began, years before it all began. We gestated our love of language and writing through our own growth stages. Many writers can remember the joy of written creations shaping childhood. We daydreamed of the creativity we would, one day, bring into this world.
Eventually, the nesting period culminated in the pain and loss of childhood innocence. We brought our writing out into the harsh light of day. No longer could we cocoon our inspiration and ideas in the womb of secret passions. And so, our writing was born into the world. For the first time, others admired the wonder. Our baby was beautiful, at least in our own eyes, and the real journey was just beginning.
Each idea, story, or article is born in the same way. It starts, nestled safely in our minds and hearts until we push through the anxiety and pain to bring it out onto the page.
Cutting our Writing Teeth
After those labor pains, writing wandered through weeks of sleepless nights. We would delve into it at a moment’s notice any hour of the day. Often, we were tired, sometimes a little sad, but we were also high on the joy and wonder of creation.
As our writing grows up, however, teething inevitably arrives with sore gums, misery, and sometimes tears. Frustration dampens the thrill. What was once easy and effortless became a chore.
It is in this stage too that we begin to truly judge our writing. Our critical eye develops and we start to see our babies as they really are.
The pain of teething makes us want to stop. Many would-be writers do stop at this point, unaware that we explore new wonders, new tastes, after our teeth come in.
Temper Tantrums, Trouble Makers, and Id.
Have you ever met a three year old that was an angel ALL the time? I didn’t think so. Because after teething, children come into their twos, threes, and fours. These are the years of discovery. They find their personality, their Id, their sense of self and belonging. And in discovering how they influence the world around them, and that they are a single cog in the wheel of life, they rebel and test their boundaries.
Our writing also goes through this stage. After it’s munched on a few crunchy husks and found it’s teeth it reaches a stage of discovery. It becomes curious, it explores, it takes chances, and it gets hurt and scared. It tests its boundaries and throws tantrums.
This age of our writing is a wonderful part of growing up. It is when we discover our true voice and come to cherish what is unique about what we have to share with the world. These years feel the longest and sometimes, no matter how grown up we become, we revert to those trouble-making three-year-olds. Fear builds and we need to test our boundaries. We need to be reassured that we are safe and protected.
Striking Out with Writer Independence
Around the age of ten, most of us went through a new stage, we discovered that we could do things on our own. We no longer needed permission, we could make choices and decisions for ourselves. But, we were insecure in making choices so sometimes we would get clingy, emotional, angry, frustrated, and scared.
Once past the tantrum stage, our writing goes through a few years where it wanders in the youthful enthusiasm of childhood before it starts to understand danger and risk. Before then, it acts without realizing that what it does might be hazardous but as understanding dawns it begins to question what is right and it realizes that its power to affect others can do as much harm as good.
This stage of development is one that is truly magical but often overlooked. It feels like an in-between, we often just think the ten year old is a ten year old. Not quite a child, not quite a teenager, still young, carefree, and without the worries of the world on their shoulders. But a ten year old worries, and our ten year old writing become concerned too. As the weight of those worries build in the coming years it leads into the next stage.
Responding to Responsibility – Teenage Rebellion
When that former ten year old now about fourteen realizes they’ve had enough of the sense of responsibility that comes with growing up they rebel. They toss off the shackles of responsibility. They want to be carefree again. They want to make bad choices and they don’t want to be concerned with consequence. They want to be three-years-old again, when right and wrong didn’t matter and when they were still oblivious to danger.
Our writing loves this stage. If you’re in it you won’t know it but your voice is dramatically different in this stage. It’s not even really “you” so much it’s the mask you put on, the face you show others. This is also the age where you’ll find your writing most mimics others. You wear the masks of other people as your writing tries to fit in.
You’ll often find in this stage you begin to harness the ability to put deep emotional ties into your writing. That angst you felt as a teenager is angst your teenage writing gives voice. Before your writing reaches adulthood it can bleed on the page, everything is intense, without filter. It often lacks direction and almost never has a plan. It also ignores consequence. But it’s only steps away from the balance, understanding, and grounding of adulthood.
Balance, Understanding, and Grounding
All of these stages eventually lead to adulthood. You’ve been reckless, you’ve abandoned responsibility, you’ve discovered your sense of being separate and distinct from others, you’ve taken a bite out of life, and become your own person. You step away from your family and begin building a place for yourself in the world. You’re still learning who you are, because none of us ever really stop, but you’ve got a firmer grasp of yourself and your emotions. You’ve learned that you have a place in the world and that, to some degree, you have the power to shape that place.
When our writing reaches this same level of maturity it too has learned that it has a place in the world and that it has the power to shape that place. We’ve learned to harness our raw emotions, to give them essence and strength on the page. But we’ve also learned that those emotions play a part in the greater whole of our story. They aren’t just there for the sake of being there, they, in their very being, have significance to the story and to the characters.
We’ve also learned through growing up that there are times when writing is hard and there are times when we can write from the core of our three year old, we can write from the minds of our ten year old, we can write from the heart of our fourteen year old, and that all of those things are within the adulthood of our writing. In this, maturity of our writing, we have greater command and control. We know how to manipulate language, and to put our influence on the page.
In adulthood, we’ve also learned the importance of having a message. Our writing is no longer aimless, it conveys, it transforms, and it brings value to those around us. We’ve learned to be giving and we’ve learned to use our strengths to make a difference for others, and ourselves.
What have you learned as your writing was growing up? Do you think you’re still in one of these other stages? Do you recognize any stages I’ve not mentioned? How has your own writing grown?
See what other Absolute Writers have to say about “Growing Up”:
- Aimee Laine – aimeelaine
- Claire Gillian – AuburnAssassin
- Night-Tinted Glasses – DavidZahir
- Life in Scribbletown – FreshHell
- The Gluten Free Food Blog – Simran
- Everything Historical – Proach *Thanks for the introduction.
- Escape Into Romance – *RomanceWriter*
- Filling in the Corners – Breddings *Thanks for the introduction.
- Writer’s Round-About – laffarsmith
- My Fantasy Life – Sneaky Devil *UP NEXT!
- Words Fail Me – leahzero
- South Asia Blog – razibahmed
- [Insert Title Here] – RavenCorinnCarluk
- Eclectic Thoughts – Collectonian