Is writing like adolescence?
Written by
Sally Ketham
February 2015
Written by
Sally Ketham
February 2015

So recently a strange thought hit me: Becoming an author mirrors internal growth patterns and processes one experiences during adolescence. Not convinced? Just follow me here for a moment.

As I recall the feelings I had as an adolescent when I first noticed I was changing, I was awed that a new world of possibilities was opening. I was in the process of initiation into something new. With that realization I felt incredibly self-conscious in the awareness of it. Britney Spears song, "Not a girl, not yet a woman" song comes to mind. I remember feeling just as the song describes. On one hand aware of a new role I was destined to embrace as a woman, but still a girl in transition.

Then I remember the dawning realization that my transition was garnering attention from boys. It was as if their validation confirmed that I was indeed on the road to an amazing transformation into this new identity. But then outside attention created a shift in my perception away from hearing my own voice towards searching for validation outside of it. There were times I clung to the slightest whiff of appreciation or validation, and other days I crumbled into a puddle of tears that my crush preferred another. As a burgeoning woman I grasped for attachments that weren't serving my higher good, tried to hide my insecurities, and vacillated from feelings of grandeur to devastation in three seconds flat.

I wonder if every writer first emerges with the emotional constitution of an adolescent. After the awareness of a spark of something entirely new emerging, comes the insecurity of transition. It's a process to become attunded to the voice inside. It's tempting to hang self-esteem on the first person that offers validation. It's difficult to remain encouraged when faced with a lengthy, tedious, painful process between here and there.

If I could go back to my adolescent self, I would share lots of wisdom. I would tell her the ways she could have navigated that transition with more grace, and way less tears. But since I can't do that, I'll instead offer these thoughts for anyone in transition to embracing a new identity as a writer/author.

1.) Own this new identity as a writer/author.  Instead of focusing out there for validation, cultivate it internally. Develop a relationship with an internal cheerleader, the spark or light within that believes in in its ability to create. Let this voice of encouragement and single-minded purpose grow so strong and bright it becomes natural to accept feedback that mirrors that voice. Let this belief grow so strong that non-resonating perspectives flow through without attachment or upset. Own this new identity as a writer/author.


2.) Don't settle for self-publishing because you believe that is your only option. Likewise, don't settle for an agent or publishing agency that is only half-convinced they care about you. If it's lukewarm while you're dating, imagine what marriage will be like. Just as you wouldn't expect every man on earth to be attracted to you, not every person on earth will resonate with what is being out-pictured in your writing. This isn't a negative. It is a necessary to discern the correct path. If traditional publishing is that path, focus on the fact that you just need ONE agent or publisher who really gets you, has an intuitive understanding of how to work with you.


3.) Believe in destiny, but learn from relationships or opportunities that miss. While some meet the man (or woman) of their dreams at first pass, the majority of us experienced guts and carnage spewed everywhere more than once. The road to finding that place as an author is no different. Apart from the 0.2% that sail straight to marriage on the first try, be realistic that any transition is a process. Be encouraged that Cinderella stories happen every day. The kind of story where naysayers are neutralized with grace, endurance meets suffering, compassion and character are developed, and those who engage the process are rewarded with abundance. 


What do you think? What do you compare writing to?

image credit: Flickr creative commons Jenna Carver

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