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In Desperate Need of Inspiration? Try the Great “I Am” Exercise

“I am the man (or woman or person) I choose to be.”


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Melissa Gouty

4 months ago | 3 min read
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Define who you are. Be who you are.

Who is Maud Dixon and who are you?

In a recent read, Who is Maud Dixon? the main character, Florence Darrow, is a wannabe writer working as a lowly assistant at a huge literary agency. At the beginning of the novel, she is sleeping with an agent to get ahead.

Florence believes she’s destined for greatness, constantly dreaming of writing a novel that makes her rich and famous.

I understood Florence’s desire to write a novel that would garner fame and fortune. I mean, what writer doesn’t secretly dream of crafting a hotly sought-after best-seller? What writer doesn’t want to make money (lots of it) with her words?

(I do.)

I didn’t understand, however, how Florence was going to fulfill her ambition of being a successful writer because she didn’t seem to want to work for it. Instead, she tried to get ahead by sleeping with an agent.

She blamed her background for holding her back. She moaned about not fitting in with her snobby colleagues. She fed her own insecurities instead of digging down and working on her own manuscript.

News Flash: Wanting to be a writer and actually BEING a writer are two different things.

You have to be willing to work. You need talent and training. Perseverance and perspicacity. Dedication, diligence, and determination. You must believe you’re a writer with every fiber of your being, defining who you are and being who you are. Without apology. Without reserve. Without doubt.

You have to know in your soul you’re a writer and claim that identity.

A writer’s identity

The novel, “Who Is Maud Dixon,” by Alexandra Andrews, turns out to be an intricately plotted story of a writer’s identity…(as well as assumed identity, mistaken identity, identity fraud, and identity crisis!) It’s a novel that flirts with questions “real” writers grapple with: Do writers with an established name and best-seller status have more talent than unknown writers? Does celebrity status help or hinder an author’s creativity? Does a successful first novel guarantee future best-sellers?

Would it be better to be a best-selling author with anonymity, safely removed from the public eye than to fight the constant attention of adoring fans? Or would it be better to achieve fame WITH fortune, achieving celebrity status that bolsters the billfold and the ego, even if it dulls the drive?

Florence wants success more than anything. To get it, she takes some crazy shortcuts to further her writing career, but before that, she tinkers with freewriting, a well-known writing technique, to get herself going.

It was apropos that Florence, the wannabe writer, piddles around in her notebook, trying to find her creative mojo, attempting to identify herself as a writer, by answering the prompt, “I am….”

The great “I Am” exercise

Always looking for prompts to keep my creative juices flowing, I decided to try the technique used by Florence Darrow not knowing what would happen.

“I am …silly.”

“I am… the middle sister; the second of the three Johnson girls.”

“I am… recovering from a pinched nerve that pulsed in my left buttock — blipping out electrical impulses like Morse code down my left leg, ending with a huge knotted ball in my left calf.”

“I am… woman, hear me roar!” (Okay. It’s not original, but it feels so right, so absolutely truthful, and oh-so-sing-able.)

The more the free-writing flowed, the stronger the statements became.

“I am a driven woman, fighting defeatist thoughts of ‘you’ll never be!” like a matadore warding off injury with a red flag.”

“I am a woman craving art — ready to devour inspiration, a dragon-demon writer sucking up ideas and spewing them out in waves of orange flame.”

“I am a woman who will NOT give up, determined to wage war against lost time and writer’s block and chronic rejection.”

“I am a woman, combining creativity with words and hope with hard work, striving to produce work worth reading until my dying breath.”

“I AM A WRITER!”

(Freewriting is liberating and valuable, a fantastic technique to get you going.)

Exercise makes you stronger

Do you know what happened when I started freewriting answers to the phrase, “I am…”?

Once the words started flowing, I FELT like a real writer. My words got stronger. My declarations gave me power.

My positive self-talk pumped fortitude into my veins. (Studies have proven that people with positive self-talk have better physical health, less stress, and a better quality of life.)

You can pump yourself up, too. Bolster your confidence. Solidify your dream. Claim your identity. Define who you are. Be the writer you want to be with the great “I am exercise,” remembering the words of the late Sidney Potier:

“I am the man (or woman or person) I choose to be.”

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Melissa Gouty

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Content Writer and Marketing Manager.

Award-winning teacher, entrepreneur, and writer. Marketing manager in the HVAC and Optometry industries. Author of The Magic of Ordinary, a memoir of a "Daddy," his daughters, and the power of one good man to change the world.


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