the real journey of a writer




The real journey of a writer – or any creative – isn’t to publication, rewards, acclaim, but to your own voice.

When you find your voice, you connect to yourself, and then through yourself to the world. Your work resonates. As Thoreau once wrote in his journal, “The whole is in each man.” (And each woman.)

I’ve always felt that your voice is twofold: not just how you write, but what you write about. They inform and shape each other.

You need to read, look, listen, absorb. You need to take the world into you so you can reinvent it through your own point of view.

You need to tune out external voices that speak in the language of the shoulds – you should do this, you should do that – and move into the secret life of your intuition. This other life has its own mind. It will guide you to places that, because they are yours, remain – as yet — unknown and uncharted. For all the self-help and how-to that fills our culture, success is, in the end, as unique to you as a fingerprint. You can only make that path by walking it. It unfolds in front of you. Sometimes it carries you along.

So you need to write.

And write.

And write.

You need to write past the point of self-consciousness. You need to quit trying to write: to be clever, witty, pretty, poetic. (Perhaps your true voice is none of these things.) You need to fall through the words into something else entirely.

(Blogging can be exceptionally good for this.)

We start by imitating the styles of others. That kind of mimicry – conscious or not – is like a trapdoor opening beneath you.

It drops you into yourself.

It’s when you lose yourself that your true voice starts to come out of the dark. It might be raw and naked. Or howling and slightly mad. Your soul is stamped all the way through it.

Finding your voice – what to say, how to say it, how to speak up in the world – is about making your truth manifest. When you’re moving in the grooves of that soulprint, you know it. And so do others.

This is art.

Art happens wherever your soul’s on the line. click to tweet

Mar 25, 2013

6 comments · Add Yours

Sometimes I feel like I’ve tuned out the external voices – and the external world – so much I live in this bubble inside my burbling, creative head. It’s great for writing, and not so great when my brother asks if I remember something and I have no memory at all of being there with him cause I was so “in my head.” Love this post. Will share!


Perfectly true, perfectly stated and perfectly apt for painters as well. Just like artists copying the masters in museums, and writers writing with the flush of inspiration from some great author they just devoured; I think the conviction to keep at it eventually peels away all the outside inspiration and reveals our own core gifts. But the trick is to keep at it. To show up. Do the work. Sweat it out. I know so many colleagues who want short cuts.

In a book on Painting by Juliette Aristides, she says: For centuries, would be artists have struggled to find the secrets that accounted for the compelling perfection found in the work of the old masters – their unique visual insights and the longevity of the work. However, in spite of the monumental effort expended to find the holy grail of the masters – the biggest secret of all is practice. To unlock the secrets of the old masters, one must apply and reapply, and continually refine the primary principles of art until they become second nature.

Great post. Perfect fodder for the work ahead today.


Hi Justine, this post really resonated with me – especially the part about imitation being a trap door to your own voice! We can’t begin nowhere and as they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery.

I actually finally had a little breakthrough today and finally felt like I was writing in my ‘own’ voice, even just a tiny bit. It’s a great feeling and it was great to be reminded here that that’s what ART is all about :)

– K


Indeed! Great post. :) e


Thanks for a different reason that I should post everyday or more frequently. I know that I get more comfortable and I am able to go deeper the more I do it, but I forget that it’s for the end goal of my own writing fulfillment and not some external validation or something.


Oh so glad I found this post. And so many others that I have read here.
Thank you Justine!


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