The joy of writing is available to all, yet not everybody finds it. Ashleigh shares how she was able to overcome trauma and writer’s block.
Recently, I have been getting a lot of comms work coming my way, whether this is social media management, teaching people how to use LinkedIn, website development or blogging! I have also been writing the odd press release or two for some very special clients.
Although this work is not something I was looking to attract, mainly as my main business focus is podcasting, it is something I find as natural as spending hours in bodies of water (I’m a total water baby and love to swim)!
I’ve realised how much I love writing, especially now that I am running my own business – AK Creative Consultancy. In my early 20’s, I went through a phase of not knowing my voice, or who I really was, which made it difficult to write and express myself. I’m sure this must be common for many young professionals who develop new skills and experience as they progress up the career ladder, and start to take on unfamiliar traits to meet the needs of their work requirements.
Imposter syndrome can easily creep in, and make it difficult to communicate in a way that feels ‘real’ and of substance – throw in a splash of perfectionism and you have the perfect recipe for writer’s block. It is only since I have embraced living a life of authenticity that I am able to write again! When you embrace who you really are, it’s so much easier for others to see you for your abilities too. A huge thank you to Brené Brown for her work on the Power of Vulnerability which has taught me so much about courage, which if you’re a fellow fan you will know that “courage is contagious”.
How I discovered the joy of writing
As long as I can remember I always wanted to be a writer – I had my first newspaper at age 10! My dad is a multiskilled author, publisher and journalist so I guess you could say it runs in the family. I used to draw cartoons of my classmates and as an editor, I had my own editorial team. Our paper included a gossip column, stories from contributors and even an agony aunt page – I can’t imagine it would have been particularly articulate for writers at such a young age! My desire to write reduced as I got older and sat bored in many Shorthand classes during my Journalism degree! We had a Politics Professor who would spend hours talking in a monotonous voice, and I would sit dreaming of all the music festivals I wanted to write about or rock concerts I wanted to review.
I know that in the last few years, I’ve worked in departments with a lot of sign-off processes – this can be frustrating as a manager, where you have some authority although end up second-guessing yourself, and wary of making mistakes! Everyone has their own writing style so when there are lots of people checking publications, the old adage of ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ can be true, and writing can lose clarity and focus. I’m pleased that now through the work I do in my business apart from sign-off with clients I have full autonomy on what I choose to write! This also extends to podcasting and the scripts I write for my Nurture Your Zest series.
“When I write I feel my thoughts pouring out of me and dancing across my screen.”Ashleigh King
Looking back now, I realise that in my naiveté as a young student studying Journalism, I didn’t want to put the work in: I just wanted to write – whether it was about culture, fitness, wellness – I didn’t have the patience to practice my craft. I studied Journalism at Leeds Trinity and All Saints University, and withdrew when my best friend was tragically murdered in my first year.
Sometimes I reflect on what life might have been like had I stuck with this course, however, I know that would not have led me to the path I am on today. This sad experience dramatically impacted my mental health and left me feeling ‘blocked’ for a long time – as emotional trauma is known to do. I am so relieved to no longer be experiencing this, and that now when I write I feel my thoughts pouring out of me and dancing across my screen. That is the real joy of writing.
Something which fascinates me every day is how much we all have to say, and how unique our individual stories are. I’d like to take a moment to encourage any of my connections to find their voice, embrace their true authentic selves, and have the courage to write and share their story – I can’t wait to read your work.
My top 6 writing tips:
- Keep your language simple and easy to understand.
- Struggling with writer’s block? Start with a draft! It can only be improved from there.
- Develop writing habits and set intentions which you can hold yourself accountable to.
- Schedule time to write and make sure you take a break to walk in nature and reflect on new ideas.
- Read more! In such a digital world, many of us forget to pick up an actual book – lose yourself in a novel and you may find your writing benefits from creativity anew.
- Keep a journal as a safe space to explore thoughts and ideas, and let this be the space you can be silly and imperfect.
In following these simple steps, you too, will find the joy of writing!
Click to find out more about Ashleigh and the creative writing and podcasting work she does today.