Who I am as a writer

drawing of woman looking at reflection in mirror

Image by JL G from Pixabay

Here we are on WordPress, all of us writing.  But what does that writing identity look like?  I thought I’d do this post to take a closer look into my own.

I’ve always liked to write.  When I was young, as in elementary school young I liked to write stories.  One of my teachers commented that all of my stories had “big truck endings”, meaning the stories ended because people got run over by a truck or killed off in some other spectacular fashion.  The story-writing faded out after elementary school, though, and has never popped up as an interest since.  I very briefly experimented with poetry, but that didn’t stick either.

During my first university degree, which was in pharmacy, my courses didn’t require much paper-writing.  I journaled, but not regularly.  When I did my nursing degree, I had to write a lot of papers for school, but I found those more annoying than anything.

When I was working as a nurse in hospital my charting was pretty short and sweet, but when I started working in community mental health I found that I really enjoyed capturing my clients’ mental illness experience in words.  When I started my master’s degree, I gradually began writing about my own illness experiences, and I found that really empowering.  That positive experience in grad school made me feel confident enough to start sharing my story in other ways.

I started blogging in fall 2017, and from what I remember it was less about a drive to write and more a desire to do something productive with my time, since I wasn’t working at all then.  It was through blogging that I really began to channel my genuine voice that had previously been hovering in the background in silence.

Writing a book wasn’t something that had ever crossed my mind before.  It started to bubble up sometime last year, when I saw that it was something that other bloggers had the courage to move forward with.  While I do want to publish more books, and I like experimenting with new channels to share my writing, my writing identity still revolves mostly around blogging.

I have a harder time connecting with my voice when I feel like I’m writing for outsiders.  I might have what seems like a good idea for a piece to submit outside of my blog, but it tends to be much harder in that situation to get the words to flow.  I’m not sure that freelancing would ever be a good fit for me, because the less “mine” a platform is, the greater the writer’s block and a sort of “I just can’t make myself care” feeling.  I like to put a lot of “me” in the writing, but that’s harder to do when I don’t know who the audience is.

Mental health still is and likely always will be my real passion to write about.  There are some other topics that interest me that I throw into the mix once in a while, but nothing resonates quite like mental health, and I don’t feel any particular urge to step outside of that.  I see the various poetry and story prompts floating around WordPress, and while I can see their value in an abstract sense, I’ve never thought hey, I want to try that.  But I think it’s a good thing that as a community of writers we’re so diverse; everyone has their own thing and there’s no need to go in directions you don’t want to go.  This also means that as an online community we’re producing a broad spectrum of work representing a huge variety of interests, niches, and writing styles.

I’m not a visually artistic person, so my words are my best expression of being.  With my writing, I choose to be all in; holding back doesn’t feel true to myself.  My identity as a writer is an extension of my identity as a person, and allows me to venture into territory I might otherwise shy away from.

I am writer, hear me roar.

 

Have you checked out my book Psych Meds Made Simple?  It’s available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.

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24 thoughts on “Who I am as a writer

  1. BeckiesMentalMess.wordpress.com says:

    Excellent post, Ashley!
    Everyone of us here in the blogosphere writes to their own drum… You’re no different.
    You have one of the best, and I mean this sicerely, one of the best mental health blogs I have read. I look forward to reading it daily. This is you niche, and your’re damn good at it!!

  2. easetheride says:

    It has been wonderful to watch your blog grow and hear your voice come out in the various pieces that you’ve written. I remember when we first began interacting in the blog world – you’ve come so far since then!

    • ashleyleia says:

      Thanks! It’s such an interesting process seeing how so many people have developed.
      p.s. If you’d like to write about BPD for my book I blogged about last week, that would be really awesome. And deadline wouldn’t be til July.

  3. Johnzelle says:

    Love the statement at the end! I too express myself best through writing. Mental health writing has remained my niche even though I’ve experimented a lot over on this personal blog. Recently I’ve decided to discontinue series that feel like work (ex. The debt free series). Mental health writing is the most effortless, fulfilling, and impactful writing I do. Great post!

  4. crushedcaramel says:

    I love the variety and diversity of posts. I always learn from your posts Ashley and it is obvious you have a huge passion and a fantastic understanding of mental and emotional health and can express your knowledge and experience in such a compelling way.

  5. Meg says:

    Oh, I hear ya! I too am not remotely visually artistic. In fact, I have poor manual dexterity. I can build furniture, but it has to be geometric, not free-form, if that makes sense. (Table saw: yes. Scroll saw: no.)

    My own passion has always been advice columns. That’s why I wrote my twelve-volume Advice Avengers series about middle school advice columnists.

    I also sort of understand about putting a lot of “me” in the writing. It can be hard to separate what a publisher or agent or website wants from what’s in your heart. I totally hear ya.

    You do have a great writing voice. It’s funny and insightful and meaningful. Let’s both keep up the great writing!!

  6. Keto For Beginners says:

    Hey Ashleyleia, I can relate to the “what’s you in the writing” thing also. I’m so much more comfortable talking to my blogging audience than trying to write articles for a magazine, but I do like the research part. Must be the science side of me. Anyway, my favorite thing to talk about is alternative health, healing people through food, essential oils, CBD, or other methods as opposed to Big Parma is what I’m most interested in. If I ever wrote about anything else, it would probably be music, my other huge passion.
    Keep up the good work here, and on the collaborative, we all enjoy reading your posts.

  7. seaofwordsx says:

    Beautiful post! 💕 I have always loved writing and also writing poetry. I also had a diary when I was younger. I can relate to writing for college papers was annoying and hated it. We are all different and I think that’s the good thing of blogging 😍 Everyone is welcome here. First I wrote more about mental health but now also about self love, feminism and more topics I’m interested in. It’s all okay as long as it’s you. I love youe blog and always get inspired and learn a lot from it so thank you!

  8. betweentwopoles says:

    I feel the same way as you do about writing being my creative outlet. I am not artistic (I cannot even color in the lines), but writing comes pretty naturally to me. I did creative writing courses through coursera.com, and although it was centered around fiction writing, it really helped me improve my writing. Those courses really shaped me as a writer, and I fell in love with writing all over again.

    I really liked writing papers for college, and I do some freelance writing on the side. I’m with you, though. Writing about my illness and my experiences is much more fulfilling and it’s where my passion lies.

  9. eLPy says:

    Thank you for sharing. I respect that you stick with what’s real to you but aren’t afraid to peak around and see how else you might use that. It’s a beautiful thing to find our avenue of expression, good for you for going down it.

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