Without a doubt, the written word is my favourite medium. I prefer it over speech; I prefer it over video; and as an introvert, I definitely prefer it over face-to-face interaction. This has been the case for as long as I can remember.
In uni/college, long-form essays were always my preferred mode of assessment. Not only did in-class exams spike my anxiety, I found I had a natural aptitude for sequencing thoughts and arguments in writing to form a broad discussion on a concept. And not only that, I actually enjoyed the process.
I grew to explore poetry for a while, and when I began to play music and experiment with songwriting, this easily transitioned to lyrics. Professionally, my enthusiasm for print evolved into technical manuals, user documentation, online support materials, and eventually project documentation. Bizarrely enough, despite it being the bane of many of my colleagues, I grew to relish the opportunity to get stuck into the process, which is perhaps why I have done so much of it over the years.
But it wasn’t until very recently – perhaps 3 years ago – that I tried my hand at fictional prose. For some reason, I had come to see myself as inherently non-creative, despite the shorter-form creations I’d produced when I was younger. Now having made several attempts at novellas, I’ve grown enraptured by this particular form of writing, and yet sadly it’s the one genre in which I have the least confidence in myself, and am the most reluctant to share my work. It’s an edge of mine, there’s no doubt about it.
Yet in that discomfort, there is opportunity; in the uncertainty, there is potential growth. Every story I write, every attempt I make, helps me learn. It gives me a chance to try things differently, then review, observe, and try again. Truly, it’s one of the wonders of the creative process. Each creation becomes an artifact that documents the best effort I could make at that time. Yes, I may look back later and cringe at a given piece of work, but this simply reflects the fact that I have improved since then, and that’s a source of immense satisfaction for me.
One of the questions that I’m slowly beginning to explore is what to do with my creations once they feel complete. I’d love to say that the creative process is its own reward, but if I’m truly honest with myself I realise that I need to feel validated externally. It’s as if I cannot call myself a writer until someone else has labelled me one voluntarily. I need to hear what other people think of my stories. Praise is wonderful of course, but in and of itself that doesn’t help me grow. External perspectives feel crucial to me at this point, I’m just not sure I’m brave enough to ask yet.
If you have experience in this area, I’d welcome any insight in the comments!