Carolyn Hughes is a writer with an interest in addiction and mental health issues. Her popular blog is The Hurt Healer and she has a lively and rapidly growing following on facebook and twitter
I must also have a dark side if I am to be whole ~ Jung
Like many writers I want my work to be recognisable by its unique and individual style. For me, it’s crucial that what and how I write reflects my authentic self. Anyone who has read my blog The Hurt Healer will be familiar with the fact that I share from the heart. It’s a deliberate approach to enable readers to relate to and hopefully be encouraged by my words. Authenticity means being genuine and real. Much as I would love to reveal only my good side, to be true to my work I have to disclose my whole self.
It is no coincidence that I am only now finding my writing voice as it has taken a long time to find myself. Years of battling with depression and alcoholism meant that I had very little idea of who I was. How I presented to the outside world was very different to how I felt inside. It was only through having the courage to challenge my past at every level that I was able to start the journey to healing and so begin to find personal identity and my authentic self.
My aim though isn’t just to be authentic, but to be authentically creative. And the key to writing both authentically and creatively lies with the unconscious. For me the unconscious is a limitless place in my mind where my spirit and soul meet. It is a place where I can visit those painful issues that used to torment me. But instead of being overwhelmed I can now bring them into my conscious, safe from their power to harm me. So as I communicate from my unconscious, so I hope to reach the unconscious of others and in doing so share a collective moment of authenticity.
The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind ~ Freud
Recently I’ve been looking at how I can reach further into the depths of my unconscious and take my writing to a new level of creativity. I’ve started to look at the constituents of my dreams. This is a wonderful way to tap into those hidden thoughts and images that make up the psyche, as well as exposing my inner truth.
Examining my dreams however has only been possible from a position of emotional recovery and psychological stability. In those dark days of depression and alcoholism my night-time experiences were fraught with darkness and fear. The erratic and terrifying nightmares that emerged reflected my complete inability at the time to manage my physical and mental anguish.
Jung once remarked that nothing was ever lost in the psyche. That is an horrendous thought for anyone who has tried to block out the past in the hope that the pain would stop. The idea that all thoughts, memories and emotions never disappear but remain forever can be frightening. Yet I found that there was indeed a freedom to be found in allowing the unconscious to simply ‘ be’. I stopped fighting the emergence of the dark side and celebrated the arrival of the good side. By no longer fearing my thoughts and dreams I was free to live authentically and to write openly too.
Il ne faut jamais regarder quelqu’un qui dort. C’est comme si on ouvrait une lettre qui ne vous est pas addressee ~ Sacha Guitry
I couldn’t mention dreams without including one of my favourite quotes. A general translation of this is; “You should never look at someone who is sleeping. It is like opening a letter that isn’t addressed to you.”
It is a quote I came across many years ago at a time when I was experiencing my first love. After one of those deep conversations that you have in such relationships I remember feeling that he hadn’t been entirely truthful. As I watched him sleeping I remembered the quote and realised that I had been right to doubt him. His real emotions were disclosed on his face as he slept. So dreams aren’t just for the benefit of the dreamer!
Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy ~ Freud
Being new to noting my dreams, I must admit that at first they did appear to be made up of bizarre representations that made little sense and made no contribution to my creativity. But as I made more of a conscious effort to remember them and to focus on not just what they were about but how I felt, they became significant.
Very often it’s in that winding down time between waking and sleeping that a word, phrase, image that comes into my mind and gives the essence to a piece of writing. Other times it’s a complete dream that a memory from the past, an issue of the present or an aspiration for the future.
Sometimes this works better than others depending on the obscurity or relevance of my dreams. Yet the importance lies in allowing that writing to happen regardless of whether it makes sense at the time. So although I may have rearranged the words to make them flow, I haven’t messed with the essence of what my soul may have whispered to me.
I may never reach the purest form of authenticity or be famed for my creativity, but I will continue to write from the heart with my unconscious and dreams as my guides.
How do you write authentically and creatively?
14 thoughts on “Authentically creative, by Carolyn Hughes”
What a thought provoking and honest post, Jenny and Carolyn. I think Jung’s view says so much. I don’t think anything is ever lost – buried and covered over. Isn’t authenticity, therefore, about acceptance? I think to write authentically and creatively is to accept the past and view yourself holistically, thus you can be true to yourself and that truth will come through in your writing. Dreams are very ‘truth revealing’ aren’t they? Fab post!
Thank you Abi! I do agree that an acceptance of our past is a key to being able to write openly and it is often through writing that we are able to release those things that need to be uncovered.
Yes, as Jung said, the Shadow is the seat of our creativity – I love the way you describe it in your own life and work, Carolyn
the reason you write so beautifully, is that is comes from the heart, you have a real talent for writing Carolyn x
What a lovely comment Carole. Thank you. x
I think we writers, like all artists, are a tortured lot. Unfortunately, it’s the price for our creativity; we’re that much in tune with our psyches. We can see all sides of things. I know what it’s like to suffer from extreme depression and alcohol addiction. But, my writing instincts ultimately surged ahead of the madness and stabilized my troubled mind. Thanks for your honesty, Carolyn!
That’s interesting to me that your writing instincts ‘surged ahead’ and had a stabilizing effect during such a difficult time. There are many pro’s and cons as to using creative writing when you are in addiction or depression and whether is is positive or not largely depends on the individual and the nature of their problem.
Thank you for your insightful comments Alejandro.
A lovely post, true & inspiring. Will make an effort to remember the events, thoughts & feelings of my dreams more clearly now!
I have found that I have been most receptive to the unconscious (including synchronicities and moments of creative or intellectual epiphany) when I have been going through the most difficult emotional times. It’s as though the negative emotions reduce my focus on the material world and sharpen my perception of what lies beneath. I’m grateful not to be in a place of constant hurt today, but sometimes I do miss the clarity that seemed to come with it.
That’s such an interesting observation. Have you blogged about it?
I haven’t, but I probably should, shouldn’t I?
I think so! 🙂
Well, I followed the inspiration of the moment, and here it is: http://sharonrawlette.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/do-negative-emotions-sharpen-perception/ Thanks for the encouragement!