The way to becoming a writer is like becoming a warrior. One must be brave, wholehearted and show complete sincerity and commitment to the craft. They have to fight to find the right words to express their story by scanning the imaginative landscape and battling the ego.
I developed this idea of becoming a word warrior through my own writer’s journey. I felt a writer must face challenges similar to a warrior like going into the unknown (publishing), violent opposition (critics) and vulnerability (oversharing on blogs). A writer and a warrior are not born with necessary skills but develop them over years of training.
The first stage of any warrior is separation. Like a medieval page the young writer must be disciplined enough to separate oneself from the outside world.
Separation from the outside world can mean different things to different people. To me as a young apprentice serparation meant imagining. In the early years my imagination was sparked by certain visually stunning picture books:
Where the wild things are + Outside over there (this one terrified me) by Maurice Sendak.
Run Away Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown.
The Whingdingdilly by Bill Peet.
The Magic Paintbrush by Robin Muller.
The separation from the “normal world” was necessary to be creative. It allowed me to go inward and produce story and illustrations of my own in visual journals.
The second stage of a word warrior is transition: like the page becoming a squire, the writer transitions from apprentice to teacher. This is perhaps the longest and most difficult stage where the most learning occurs.
Transition is about transformation. Starting as one thing and becoming something more. I wrote and re wrote, wrote and rewrote, much like getting on a horse and falling off, getting on a horse and falling off until I felt a glimmer of confidence. I spent most of this stage enduring trial and error and learning from any resource. The transition was slow and subtle but I eventually transformed from student to feeling like I could be a teacher.
My first apprentices were in a way warriors themselves, playing full contact rugby barefoot in the heat of the African sun then writing their thoughts and ideas wholeheartedly in a visual journal. Suddenly inspiration was my friend and students were engaged and joining me on the way to becoming a word warrior.
I taught this Visual journal model:
- Brainstorming the inner self:
2. Discovering the amazing world around
3. visualizing words
After years of training the hope is that by the end of the transition phase the word warrior is ready to face their fears.
The final stage is incorporation. Just as warrior knights must be ready to face opponents, writers must be ready to face the world of publishing and readers. I am now in the final stage of becoming a writer,shooting arrows in the dark trenches, hoping that an agent/publisher might notice a diamond in the rough.
I feel in all stages of becoming a word warrior the process leads to wild places where wild things are waiting to be created. Although most adventures are dangerous the journey makes one feel more alive.
I speak of W O R D W A R R I O R Z because I hope to inspire creative writers through photographs/illustration and share diverse stories about overcoming challenges, being wholehearted and honouring nature. Ultimately I hope to develop a writing community where more and more stories that heal the earth and our inner lives are spread.
I hope you’ll consider joining the creativity @emilyscale on instagram.