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Lessons in Writing: Finding Your Voice by Picking up a Pen
One of my favorite things to do growing up as a kid in the Midwest was to create stories. I would spend hours crafting stories with my Barbies or paper dolls, crafting back stories of their lives and adventures that helped build their character. As I got older I would start to write short stories spending one summer writing what we believed was going to be next great screenplay for a family adventure summer blockbuster movie with my cousins on my Tandy 3000 computer (yes I’m aging myself). We quickly realized Steven Spielberg we were not, but still had fun planning out the characters and acting out the lines.
For the most part, my stories were just that-my stories that I rarely shared. Just a personal escape to make sense of the world around me. That was until I entered high school and Mr. Dziedzic’s English class. One of the assignments was to write a short essay anonymously and each essay would be read out loud as the class voted on the best story. I remember carefully selecting the name I would use Bob, standing for Books Over Boys as at that time in my life I much rather preferred reading a copy of V.C. Andrew‘s book over the typical high school activities, so the name was my creative way of showing how proud I was of who I was.
As each story was eliminated, I remember the sense of nervousness building inside me. We reached the final round and he called out the names of the top essays. I remember slowly rising as he said the name Bob hoping for cheers from my classmates but instead, I was met with laughter from the shock of it being me, the girl who rarely spoke in class. I vowed never to write another story again after that moment and I vowed to never share my voice again. Even writing that vow today brings a pit to stomach and returns the lump to my throat that I felt in that moment trying to hold back my emotions.
The reality is I didn’t stop writing, I filled notebooks with stories and thoughts that would never be shared. In college when feeling lost and overwhelmed I would sneak off the to library and spend hours just writing until my head would be cleared of whatever thought was plaguing me. When I moved across the country to start “Adulthood” I packed up those notebooks and stored them in boxes that would never be opened or shared with another person.
My voice was locked away in those notebooks and the many more scattered around my home, trapped in the perpetual loop of “is this good enough”. Fast forward to doom scrolling on Facebook one sleeplessness night and coming across a post about an upcoming collaborative project for women who had overcome adversity.
At this point in my career, I had spent countless hours working with clients on finding their voice and focused on empowerment and ensuring that young girls knew they had a seat at the table and that they were enough just as they were. I went back and forth on if I should I do it, was I ready to pick up a pen and not just write but to share my story with the world.
Something magical happened when I decided to pick up my favorite pen and start to write in a fresh notebook just waiting to be filled with letters that turned into words and words that turned in paragraphs driving a journey that leads to the creation of a story. My voice appeared and not only did it appear, it got louder. It proclaimed that I am here and I am enough.
I read somewhere that the actual act of writing, sends a signal to our brain that those words matter and that this message is important. Writing provides clarity and connection to the work we are doing and helps solidify the message we want to convey. As women who are leaders in business our voices matter but the words we write do as well.
Write your story, share your vision, and allow your words to guide someone on the journey they are just starting to embark on.
Tips On Finding Your Voice When Writing
- Make writing a daily habit
Devoting at least 20mins a day to just writing your thoughts and letting the creative process lead you provides space for you to reconnect to your message.
- Find your creative sanctuary
Having somewhere you can allow yourself to just bring clarity to your process. The familiarity of this space tells your brain it’s go time.
- Let Go and Let Flow
The words may not always make sense but it’s what needs to be released trust the process.
About the Author
Name: Erica Tatum-Sheade
Professional Title: Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Bio: Erica Tatum-Sheade is a licensed Clinical Social Worker, Registered Play Therapist, and Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator. She is the co[owner of Integrated Mental Health Associates a private practice in Scottsdale, AZ. In 2018, after seeing a growing need for support for young girls, she created a group curriculum called G.E.M.S.™ (Girls Empowered, Motivated, and Strong), where she teaches concepts of confidence, empowerment, self-esteem, and authenticity to girls from elementary through high school. She provides training and public speaking on mental health to the public and other helping professionals. One of the 2021 NAWBO Woman of Vision award winners and the 2022 National Association of Social Worker-Arizona Social Worker of the Year.
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