Unpacking Your Process: Identify Your Audience
I’ve heard it said before that the biggest enemy is the one within. When I think about the goals I haven’t achieved, this statement rings unavoidably true. Four years ago, I was inspired to write a book and published a chapbook ten months later. Two years ago, I went part-time to work on a new book that still isn’t finished let alone published. While the goals have been the same, I’ve changed, and internally it hasn’t been for the best.
Since 2017, the biggest battle I’ve been fighting is the one within. Somehow, I lost sight of the purpose behind my work and started focusing on how well I fit into pre-existing boxes. If “good poetry” looked a certain way, mine had to look that way in order to be shared. While I was well-intentioned in seeking to perfect my craft, I unintentionally became obsessed with fitting a mold to the point that my uniqueness felt like inadequacy. I became insecure about the parts of my writing that shaped my refreshing voice, and as a result I was unable to move forward.
Today I want to take you on my journey. I am still in route, but I can share what I’ve learned to this point. When we are working in our passion, it’s necessary to identify and ground ourselves in why we are doing what we do and for whom. As you’ll see, I lost sight of this, but fortunately, I’m finding my way back.
FOR YOU: Just about every success story starts the same way. A person is inspired to do something and there’s an undeniable feeling or pull they passionately pursue. At this stage, nothing can stop you and anything that tries is the enemy. This is where I started. In the beginning, poetry just came to me. I was inspired by something and wrote about it. This was pure and my work was well received.
As poetry became more than a passion, the pressure of applying a system to my writing (like establishing work time to finish my book) removed some of the comfort I had around producing whenever. Additionally, if I wanted writing to be a career, I was definitely going to have to apply some discipline around what I was doing; that’s when a major shift in focus came.
FOR THE PEOPLE: The more growth I made in the poetry world, the more writing became less about me. There were two things to consider: the people I touched through my work and those who were also doing the work. I became conflicted. I built an audience of people who loved what I was doing and wanted more, while also gaining a circle of writing peers whose development and critiques highlighted the work I still needed to do.
I lost myself in this space because I no longer knew my intended audience. Writing was no longer something I could do when inspired, and it also stopped being something I felt confident enough to put out. It was flawed and purposeless. I had trouble seeing the benefit that sharing my "imperfect" work could have on those around me, so I stopped publicizing my poetry and started focusing on other areas. In this stage, I deprived the world of my voice, because of what I was battling within.
FOR THE CREATOR: Recently I had a group of friends over for goal-resetting and girl talk. At one point we decided to go around and affirm each person by acknowledging all of their greatness. When it came to me, they acknowledged the impact I was making by setting and crushing every goal I set. Knowing that I’d been struggling internally, I realized that my shift in focus was simply an attack to block my purpose.
My girls spoke to the parts of me that lost focus. Regardless of how I feel about what I’m doing, I'm purposed to do it. The inspiration I had when I first got started was really God’s calling, and the drive I used to have about getting things done, was the peace that comes with walking the path that’s created for you. Ultimately, neither the supporters or my peers should be the focus of my work. As long as I’m connecting with the source (which for me is God), I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing and it will be a blessing (critics aside).
When I tell y’all, I’m am still working on this, please know it is a very fresh but necessary lesson. The work we are meant to do, is never about us. It’s about tapping into the one who created us, so that we can operate in what we were created to do while we’re here. That's all that matters.