Eightfold Path of Writing

The path of creative writing, like the path of life itself, is not a straight, linear one. There are many twists and turns, loops and circles, blocks and diversions along the way. Sometimes we surge ahead, confident in where we are going, unconstrained by the thoughts of what might lie ahead. Then at other times, doubts set in and we are called to return, to double back and check our markings; our view of progress. Before long we may very well find ourselves at the beginning again, challenged over what we have learnt and what we have achieved. At this very point we may become very confused and disheartened; prepared even to abandon the path altogether. But if we are really serious about our writing, and about ourselves, we come to recognize and accept that this is all part of our journey. Yes, there will be times of unsettling experience,
where we wander off and get lost, uncertain about what direction we should be taking. But if we remain firm in our commitment and resolve we will be strengthened in order to venture forth again, and again for new growth.

THE JOURNEY UNFOLDS…..
THE FIRST STEP – AWARENESS

Feelings start stirring within our lives telling us that we need to somehow follow a creative path of self-expression. We may have never trod this way before. We may have never been sensitized to the call of creativity. We may have never been conscious of a desire within us to develop and shape an aesthetic sensibility – to sharpen our perceptual field of view. But here we are, almost carried along onto this opening journey of exploration and discovery not really knowing where it might lead or what it might involve. We may have traveled a different path in the past, one that never embraced, or even touched upon any notion of developing our writing skills and yet we are here, poised to travel into a fascinating land of unlimited possibilities, searching for learning, truth, enlightenment….

Awakening into the start of a new, invigorating life, where both enchantment and entrapment awaits, is indeed a challenging affair. For although we will undoubtedly grow as individuals, enjoying the fruits of our artistic efforts, we will also die a little as well, at least the old parts of us that are trying to hold us back. But we journey on because we have realized the certainty of one thing, if we abandon this quest – we will always live to regret it…..

THE SECOND STEP – THE SEARCH
In starting out on the creative journey we are hopefully trying to discover an authentic voice, a true voice that can speak for us. We may be unaware of exactly how we should go about this so we start to read and ask questions. We research, experiment, practice to hone our writing skills, to find a way forward into the unknown. We also start to commit our pens to paper which can be a bewildering, frustrating, even scary experience at times but we undertake it willingly, knowing that there are rewards awaiting for us further ahead….

THE THIRD STEP -THE PATH DEEPENS
Before we know it we are engaged fully with the writing craft. We are sitting down and exploring ways to articulate what we feel needs to be said. We are reasonably confident about the way forward and we have built up, if not a substantial body of work, then at least, a personally significant one. We may not be too confident in showing this to others, for fear of criticism, but we are on the way to feeling that we are making solid progress in our creative life. The quality of our writing may still be short of what we want, or think we can achieve, but we are improving, evolving and growing in our craft.

THE FORTH STEP – DOUBT
Before too long, despite all the progress that we may have made, we start to come up against some degree of resistance in our writing. We start to feel undermined by a lack of self-confidence, lack of direction. At times a voice tells us we are wasting our time, that we have better things to do, and worse, that our writing is no good anyway. When we are confronted and challenged in this way we mustn’t panic, for this is part of any journey of growth and development. Its role, in one sense, could be looked upon as separating the seriously committed writer ( who will learn lessons here to make a breakthrough and take their work onto an higher level ) from those who simply write and give up at the first hurdle.

THE FIFTH STEP – RE-ENGAGEMENT
This is our second wind. After fresh stimulus and inspiration from many possible sources ( eg, books,
writing teachers / mentors, writing circles, individual writing friends or simply fresh reflections / considerations on our writing practice ) we come back to the writing. Hopefully this is with renewed vigor to deepen the craft, to keep it alive, to nurture and nourish it so that it may grow and flourish

THE SIXTH STEP – INTO OUR STRIDE
After sustained effort to expand our art we start to grow as writers. Perhaps for the very first time we start to even think of ourselves as writers ( whether we are published or not ). We are still working away, in a dedicated manner, exploring and experimenting in the use of many different forms. We are still making mistakes, but we are learning from them and feel that we are touching on something that is much bigger than us. We may still be attacked, at times, by a lack confidence in our ability to produce something ‘ special’ or ‘ worthy ‘ but we are prepared to work at it, to give of our best. Improvements do come, progress is made, but only in direct proportion to what we are able to give. This is a lesson that we must all learn before we journey further….

THE SEVENTH STEP – THE COMMITMENT
Because we are deeper on the writing path, feeling fully engaged with our practice, we are secure in the knowledge that our craft is growing, maturing, ripening for a future harvest. At this stage we know that there is no going back. For better, or worse we are committed to developing the writing life despite everything. This is the pivotal point. We have fully accepted the real necessity of writing in our lives and know that from now on, this is our vocation

THE EIGHTH STEP – CONSOLIDATION THROUGH MAINTENANCE
Because we have given so much of ourselves to the writing path, to the creative expression of our literary voice, we now start thinking of ourselves as firmly settled writers. Despite all the set backs along the way, all the dramas that have beset us on this strange and wondrous journey, we have now arrived at the point where we are established in our practice. We have managed to sustain this position, over time, because we know that to write, in itself, is the reward and not necessarily any external recognition of its products. We also know that as writers we no longer attach any feelings of doubt or uncertainty to the necessity of our work and its purpose.

“ The writing is what I was brought here to do.
And my purpose is to get out the word, to witness,
and give testimony. So I’m on a mission….”

Sapphire

The Artist as Witness

Despite all the fear and anxiety, aggravation and irritation that writing engenders within us, it is our chosen craft and we respect its status as an imaginative tool to explore and shed light on an otherwise dark and dreary landscape. Writing helps to bring order and comprehension to the world we live in. Without its revealing, magical presence we are diminished in some way, held back from understanding and participating deeper in the life we have been given. So even when the writing feels difficult and heavy going – which it inevitably will in fallow periods when we struggle with expression – persevere and push on through to see what revealing insights may lay ahead, what treasures are awaiting us.

ENJOY THE LIFE AND ENJOY THE MISSION OF WRITING……