WordPress has this amazing blog, TheDailyPost, which provides a daily word as a writing prompt–a great opportunity for new writers.
Today’s word is “stifle.” Feeling suppression, that choking sense of either doing it to ourselves or having others suppress US is one of the ingredients in many a decision to become a blogger. Being able to find my voice and explore it ways outside of the academic drone has definitely been part of my incentive to write in this medium.
Those of us of a certain age well remember the television show, “All in the Family.” Archie Bunker was constantly telling his sweet, bashful and slightly kooky wife, Edith, to “Stifle Yourself!” He was portrayed as a angry, egotistic, controlling man whose life was going out of control because of the changes in society around him. (We see alot of Archies these days). That’s where some people were introduced to this word.
Outside forces often require us to “stifle ourselves” as a means to control not only our voices but our very thinking processes. In corporate environments, the leadership wants to control and discipline “the message.” In academia, “academic freedom” is something only old people acquire, as a reward for years of long service and observation of the social code about what is, and is not, “scholarly writing.” If a chemistry professor or a computer scientist publishes a novel or a book of poetry, well, they better have tenure.
Bloggers tend to be younger for a reason– freedom and time. With age comes experience, and perhaps more to say, but more restrictions, too. But it is the self-restrictions that are the real killers of creativity and exploration. After years of coloring within the careful lines of the external restrictions, it is hard to break out who they want us to be and talk, write and move in different ways. But it is necessary. It’s an exercise in being authentic people. That tenured chemistry professor may not be able to write that poetry because her authentic voice has been out of use for so long.
It’s taken me about three years to find my voice again. Don’t wait too long. To find our voices, we must first of all use them. ~Lola