Sasha Glasgow, a writer, creative and journalling guide, shares a beautiful piece about creativity, discomfort and visibility, and being a ‘woman figuring it out’ for This Creative Life, a series focusing on creative living, working and playing.
Two years ago, Michaela Coel’s Emmy speech set much of the creative world alight with its resonance. In it, she said:
“In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to, in turn, feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success, do not be afraid to disappear, from it, from us, for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence.”
I disappeared into creative silence for quite a while over the last year. At times, it has proved incredibly uncomfortable, and at others, it has felt wildly freeing. Largely, it felt uncomfortable when I considered how I thought I should be showing up and being seen, but also, being seen when I didn’t think I was doing or being enough to warrant it, gave rise to a gnawing feeling of unworthiness. Me being included in spaces for proper business owners? I felt fraudulent.
I wanted labels for my creativity. I wanted clarity as to what on earth I was doing when I would write and say words on the internet. What was it for? Who was I as a creative? I wanted that clarity, so I could extend it outward to those who engaged with me. I wanted those labels so I could feel more sure of being seen. I wanted a label to feel understood. Really, I wanted those labels for me.
It’s hard to articulate who you are and what you do, while you are still developing and coming to understand it yourself.
When I first started being vocal about my creative journey, I called myself ‘writer, doubter, doer.’ It’s hard to articulate who you are and what you do, while you are still developing and coming to understand it yourself. I was forging a path in the spotlight, not sure of my footing. I’m grateful to the creatives who saw me trying and cheered me on regardless, offering me a hand to help me find my balance in doing so.
Since 2020, I’ve written countless words through podcasts, articles, Instagram captions, email newsletters and now Substack. I’ve hosted online guided spaces for others to connect with their own words through journalling. I freelanced full-time and then part-time. I still wasn’t sure of myself, but I was doing the thing, well, something. Going with the flow. Flow can be a great thing when you feel sure of yourself or excited. It’s deep and fulfilling. But when you aren’t, the flow feels unmoored and even a little unsafe.
I took a few breaks from the internet feeling burnt out by the pandemic and just life, but also feeling a bit embarrassed by what I perceived to be a confused and bungled creative journey. I also knew I wanted to reevaluate my relationship with social media. Something in me was saying it didn’t want to keep doing things the way I had been. Just as I learnt the steps to the first part of my journey, something inside me cut the lights and changed the moves required.
Stumbling around in the dark, I had to ask myself: what did I know to be true? What had I learnt on the journey so far? What did I want now?
I knew that I could make money from the ideas in my head, the words that flowed from my fingers and that some people actually got me and understood how my brain worked, which felt like the most astounding part. I knew that I loved being at home. I knew that I valued freedom, flexibility and security. I knew that I quite liked being an employee, but also never wanted to go into a place of work five days a week ever again. I knew that I’d give all of my creative ideas away for free if I could. Part out of generosity, partly because I was just delighted to feel expressed and understood and be providing some kind of value through these things that I love. And partly (I’ll admit it’s a big part) because then I wouldn’t ever have to state or ask for what I felt/hoped my creativity was worth.
I knew that fast-paced, blink and you miss it social media wasn’t for me. I knew that I wanted community, to work seasonally and not do so much of the live elements of the journalling workshops anymore. I knew how much went into each of the sessions I put on, and after a thirty-day replay timeframe, it was over. Gone.
Three years in, I’m still figuring it out. When I first jumped onto the internet as Frank+Feel, I promised that I’d write my feelings, frankly and have frequently stated that I am a ‘woman figuring it out.’ That’s still me and always will be. I work four days a week remotely, and it is delicious. My brain has the space it needs to breathe and dream and create and go at its own pace for an extra day. I earn just about enough for the life I’m living now. It’s not the one I want to be living in full, but there are enough elements for now.
Creatively, I’ve settled on calling myself a ‘writer, creative and journalling guide.’ I need it to be loose and free because I don’t know where my creativity is going to go next (well actually, I do). Essentially, this creative body of work I’ve been building for the last three years can be boiled down to two things: no matter the format, it is a life of words. It is the process of being – of living a life. The other thing that this creative endeavour has been, now that I look back on it, is permission-giving. Each word written, podcast recorded, and new thing tried has been me giving myself permission to be. To lean into all my many ways of being me.
Currently, I write a Substack called A Life of Words. A year and change later, I’m still hovering over the ‘add paid’ option, but I think that’s coming in some guise soon.
I’m only hosting private seasonal workshops and I’m building a digital shop to house my journalling guides, and I’m dancing in the dark with YouTube! I bet that’s not where you expected this to go! I’ve set up a channel all about journalling and I’m really excited about it. It’s a creative project that I’ve felt called to for about a year, and I’m making a quiet commitment to it – just for me.
This is the first time I’m even mentioning it to anyone other than the three people I’ve told about it. I have the balance right in both types of work right now, so feel I can commit to something like this, come what may and just because. No pressure or expectations – simply because I want to. And my goodness, in this creative life, if that isn’t a reason to do something! It’s the only reason really.
So much of a creative life is dancing in the dark. It’s thrilling yet never fully knowable, with such an intriguing mystique about it.
Part of dancing in the dark has meant I’ve spent the last two months learning how it all works, filming and editing videos. And to show my human doubt-y self, there has been the small matter of the seven months since buying a webcam and podcast mic for filming when I didn’t want to unbox either of them and have to step into the realm of being a beginner again.
But now I’ve got going, there has also been something enchanting about dancing in the dark with this project that only I’ve known about. I’m an outer accountability person when it comes to getting things done, but with this particular thing, I knew I wanted to keep it to myself. That came from a different place, too. It wasn’t, ‘well if I don’t tell anyone, they won’t know if I fail,’ but more making the most of the gloriously quiet time when it’s just you and the things you’re building. You’ll never have that precious time again once you set it out into the wild to breathe and be what it will be.
So much of a creative life is dancing in the dark. It’s thrilling yet never fully knowable, with such an intriguing mystique about it. It’s enthralling, enraging, constantly captivating and endlessly amorphous. I’ll spend a lifetime learning the steps of my creative way. Swaying in the fullness of the light and trying my best to trust in the shadow moments of pivot, uncertainty, no ideas and change. Because to have darkness, there has to be light. And when it comes, it is glorious.
Sasha is a writer, creative, journalling guide and woman figuring it out. She writes an open journal on Substack and has just started a YouTube channel to which she’d love you to subscribe! It’s all about journalling, but really, it’s another permission-giving step on her creative journey. Sasha’s digital shop of journalling guides, which I’m personally very excited about, will be coming soon.