The Writing Process: Color

mosaicI noticed something about the colors of the words that streamed from my head when I started blogging two years ago. The spectrum had many light, bright hues. Looking back at the single young woman from this side of time, I was a little startled at the levity in the beloved writing that I had picked up again. Because for much of my life, I wrote from a very dark place.

There is a creative force to the darkness, hence the archetypal artist whose work is an expression of his inner drama. In high school when my writing was a way of repainting and processing grief and anger, I was drawn to poets and writers like Sylvia Plath who spoke out of emptiness and flat despair. As my faith and hope in God grew into my 20s, I recognized a troubling truth. While my work was reflecting more light, an enduring spirit of despondency continued to inspire my art in both poetry and song composition.

And I didn’t mind.

I was tasting the addictiveness of writing under darker influences. The dynamic is fascinating to me. But it was remarkable that after a decade of sporadic writing that had gathered dust, I saw the sun on my words. I don’t think the glad divergence could be distilled down to my faith, which was in many ways stronger in my younger days. Deep faith, in any case, does not leave us immune from crippling self-talk or depression, as many spiritual giants in Christian history have shown. Nor could it be a straight matter of the joy I have experienced with my family through my 30s because life has been imperfect there, too. It is more the rawness, the edginess the Great Potter has abraded and sanded of my spirit. The keen knowledge of my own weaknesses and the awareness that everyone is a work in progress so I can relax and forgive and enjoy my life more was the posture from which I started to blog. I now feel it was a cop-out to depend on the spirit of encumberance to fuel my creativity. Certainly life is a mosaic of the great occasions of surprise, happiness, and pain and it is the helpless business of the artist to paint these colors in his chosen medium. But I no longer gravitate to the dark hues in my storytelling – because I don’t have to. I have found myself enjoying the beauty, redemption, transformation of my art as I discover these very elements in the poetry of life.

142 thoughts on “The Writing Process: Color

  1. I like a rich, multi-colored palet myself. The bright tones feel better to me and match my intention to uplift others, at times, I must honor the dark and despair too. 🙂 – 😦
    And as you said, time, life and spirit have polished the artist and materials to where maybe we are a little better at accessing the bright tones consciously.
    To colorful writing!

    • Yes, the gladder tones do tend to inspire. Of course our art will reflect all the colors of our living. I was saying I am no longer dependent on the negative energy in my creative endeavors.

      Writing with you, buddy. =)

      • As I’ve said to the others, nothing wrong with that. Our art reflects our inner journey. But I love how one blogger put it, that we can move through the darkness like it’s a shadow (and to add to it my own way), not write under it like it’s an eclipse.

      • When you’ve lived life, experiencing all that goes with it, then you can chose from its palette the colors you need for the story.

      • Well said. And I’d have to agree. I was just sharing how dependent on the dark I used to be for my muse and how I’ve become freed of that. (A good thing, or I’da been depressing the hec out of you all.) LOL.

      • It’s good to know the dark is in your ditty-bag to use when you need it. Just remember to put it back when you’re done. 🙂

      • I hAve drawn on it on the blog, you know…when a woman pissed me off (When It Sucks Being a Woman which I renamed I May Be a Man))….and a few others. *wink* A good thing I hAve put it when my business was over.

    • As I’m telling the others here, I did acknowledge all the colors of living that will naturally reflect in our art. I am just no longer reliant on the darker ones to reach myself at my most creative. =) Makes sense, I hope.

  2. Well, here’s my two copper pennies worth and of course it doesn’t even compare with what other bloggers have written about the how’s and why’s of writing. I have one measly observation. You have matured as a woman and as a writer.

  3. “the awareness that everyone is a work in progress so I can relax and forgive and enjoy my life”

    Here lies the secret to your brightening colors as well as to psychological health in general. Only when we let go of our “musts” and “shoulds” can we move out of depression into mere sadness at our failure to achieve our goals. If I tell myself I must be the perfect father, the most loving spouse or the finest writer, then I court depression if I don’t succeed. However, if I tell myself that I would prefer to be the perfect father, a loving spouse or the finest writer, and I fail at the task, I can tell myself that it’s sad that I did not accomplish what I set out to accomplish, but it’s not a terrible thing because we all fallible human beings. As you say, this enables one to let go, forgive oneself and others, and enjoy life.

      • HW, you said yourself that we are all works in progress. As long as you believe that, any lapse, even on a matter of principle, is not a terrible thing. Only if you believe we have the potential to be infallible is there justification for stressing out over our mistakes.

      • “Only if you believe we have the potential to be infallible”

        I don’t stress over mistakes. But there is one other reason for grief over my failings. Where by willful transgression I spurn divine Grace – not Law.

      • Children are fallible too. If a child fails to obey you or a divine commandment, we don’t stress the child out for his or her ‘terrible’ actions, because we recognize that children make mistakes all the time. If you believe that adults are also fallible creatures then, from a psychological perspective at least, it is not a terrible thing to make a mistake even if this involves a divine transgression. Adults also make mistakes all the time.

  4. An interesting self-examination. I’ve never thought of wrting as colour, maybe because I am more music driven. My writing has many different sounds, from symphies to heavy metal. Through it all though there is a recurring theme that I borrowed from T-Bone Burnett, who said many years ago: “If Jesus is the Light of the World, there are two kinds of songs you can write .You can write songs about the light, or you can write songs about what you can see from the light.” Both those approaches inspire my writing.

    • Wonderful, Lorne. Color comes from the living embodiment of beauty, our Creator. Music was heaven-borne (and the celestial chorus sounded the birth of the Savior), and the Living Word gave life to all things. =) We can reveal glimpses of all this in our art.


  5. Oh Diana, I do think we are on the same wavelength with this light and dark business for sure! It is interesting though that the creative faucet can be very strong under darkness and edgy, raw and sometimes masterful works created. I think though true beauty really needs light to define it which your post exemplifies.

  6. The creative process fuelled by darkness I believe is a means through which we make sense of what’s happened in our life, and get past it. I think that’s why so many people feel the need (urge) to create art from darkness. But like you said, life is a rich pallete; we can choose from a ton of colors and paint our words and music. We just have to find a way to connect to the ‘good’ and bright feelings, and develop a powerful desire to share those too, as much as we give out fragments of our darkness too.

    “Certainly life is a mosaic of the great occasions of surprise, happiness, and pain and it is the helpless business of the artist to paint these colors in his chosen medium. But I no longer gravitate to the dark hues in my storytelling – because I don’t have to. I have found myself enjoying the beauty, redemption, transformation of my art as I discover these very elements in the poetry of life.”—
    It’s a good place you’ve come to, Diana 🙂 I loved these lines.

  7. Diana this is such a beautiful piece of writing. I use to keep diaries and I noticed something. When I was unhappy or sad, I wrote more. When I met my husband and found my soul mate I stopped writing. Happiness left me without that urge to write. Now I feel like the time is ticking away and I have so much living to do and writing just feels like a natural part of my own growth. Thankfully I to have found a place where I can write freely about my life on my blog. The diaries have been put to rest.

    • “writing just feels like a natural part of my own growth.” I love this, K. You’re writing from a different place now. Not to survive but to record your joy of living and because you’re thriving.

      • Diana I use to hear fifty something women say they were the happiest they had ever been and I use to think… you are fifty why would you be your happiest at fifty…..Now I am here, I get it and strive to live in the moments. it really is all we have. Life can change in a second.

      • Oprah said that. LOL. I’m not a fan but I found it interesting, too. She felt she finally didn’t give a hoot what anyone thought (though if I had her bank account I probably would feel the same ha ha ha), felt she had come into her own. I savor your wisdom, Kath. Thanks for sharing the light.


  8. Writing gave me strength to move on through dark days. Am at a place now, where I am at peace with God, where I love life and embrace it, and yeah my writing has changed with it.
    Can very much identify with your post Diana.
    Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  9. I guess we all have our own attraction to some kind of darkness…though Plath did get pretty depressing.

    I changed, in my own way, something like this (but not limited to):
    While the darkness is there, it is but a shadow. The light of true hope and admiration, I am fond.

  10. that was enlightening, but you are right most of the time if not painting I am replying creative stuff on the internet. I often laugh at my own stuff I write. Cool how I can see things so differently when reading someone else’s POV. good thanks for the 2 gold cents./

  11. Life is wonderful inspiration for all forms of art because life is messy, beautiful, surprising and can take our breath away (through awe or fear.) I like “color” because that is the canvas for personal growth and encouragement to others.

  12. I pause, high above the world of human strife, to look about the mountain that I choose for life, and in the air where breath is rare and clear, I notice other seekers venture near. A wave, a smile, a moment’s eye, and then their journeys pass me by. but in the silence that ensues, I find my heart has been renewed.

    your intimacy has blown the clouds away
    and left the sun to warm my day


  13. I enjoyed this very much, made me think of some of the greatest natural creations I’ve seen ~ when the days have been so dark and stormy it is always the light that makes it beautiful, such as a streak of sun-rays breaking through the clouds or bright colors that seem to come from an unexpected smile.

    From a personal perspective, I too think that the abyss of darkness triggers our need to create, to move above the chaos…and I like the idea you present of color. I too favor the ‘more optimistic’ colors of life, but the only way beauty can be seen is to also see the contrast as well. To understand both sides.

    You seem to be quite the master at understanding this contrast ~ and play in both areas with your art & creation. One of the great gifts of getting older (one of the few…) is being able to define these areas of darkness and dabbling in them when needed but keep the spirit light and aware. As you say “awareness that everyone is a work in progress so I can relax and forgive and enjoy my life more”

    • Absolutely, Randy.
      “being able to define these areas of darkness…but keep the spirit light and aware”. Without the light we will plunge into a hopeless void, won’t we? And yes, it is in fact the darkness that can magnify what is beautiful. We happen to be talking between the worst of Good Friday and the Resurrection Morning of Easter, though it may already be the latter by the time you read this. The worst that Christians could imagine turned out to be their more glorious song, that in the death he met their Lord had conquered death. Many other examples in history, esp in the blackest chapters like the holocaust. Appreciate your time, RC.

      • I really like the way you say “darkness that can magnify what is beautiful” I think that is indeed the case ~ darkness amplifies everything, especially emotions. Yes, it can be a dangerous place to dwell, but every now and then a walk on the dark side is just what the spirit needs. It allows us to readdress who we are, what we stand for ~ and gives us that desire to improve. Wonderful words D ~

  14. What a thought-provoking and lovely post is this. So much amazing art is created by those in struggle; I am so drawn to it. I just can’t take up residence there. There is so much more reward in passing through, and speaking to it from the other side. For some of us, it took decades. ☺ Van

    • You actually summed it up so very well, V. Yes, (as I said) there is a place for the struggles and the darkness in our art. But it’s just like life. We don’t want to STAY there. Every day, every week. Thanks for walking along.


  15. You’ve expressed your journey beautifully Diana. As a teenager and young woman I too was drawn to writing that came out of darkness, probably because I had quite severe depression at that time, but as I matured, my palette became more rounded. At some of the most difficult times in my life, such as when my mother was dying, I couldn’t write at all, but I came out of that period a few years ago now at my most creative. I think my writing ‘voice’ still has a touch of melancholy, but it’s the type of melancholy of cosy rainy days rather than despair.

    • As many of us have been saying here (lots of people defending their darkness LOL) No – no one was very defensive – we create out of all the colors of our living. That is true art. I have simply (and profoundly) been able to widen my palette. =) Thanks for keeping up.

  16. wow, that is so very beautiful! I agree, i find it a lot easier to write from the dark side, I have trouble writing effectively about the good side of me and my life, and there are many good things, I’ll have to work on it! I do have one all pervasive hurt in my life, that I have never found that true love in a man that I have always wanted… but then that I guess is my problem and maybe someday I will get what I want and discover it was not what I wanted after all?

    Thank you for your post, it gives me hope, you are a wonderful writer… Namaste, Michelle

    • Oh, I so appreciate the tender honesty (and encouragement), Michelle. And I wasn’t just speaking of writing about bad or good things but of drawing upon their force, feelings, memory for inspiration. And yes, I think all things we hunger for can be anticlimactic when we lay a hold of them. At least come with a dark side. =) It’s easy to romanticize desires when we can paint them as rosy as we want in our head. People – love – mEn – come with baggage and blemishes.

      I am honored you left here a little more hopeful.


  17. I love your reference to the Great Potter whose sandpaper shaped your roughness. Beautiful story of your evolving from the depths of your pain and anger to write in bright colors.

  18. Another inspiring post, Diana. With age comes wisdom and a broader perspective, it seems. One where in the darkness there is a deeper recognition of all that is light and hopeful and beautiful. I love the way your writing moves me:)

  19. You like a post on my blog every 6 months, then don’t follow it, lol. I always revenge like 10 posts on your blog without reading them, but it’s fine cos you have a high iq and you’re using it in a nice way. You could well be working in the city and driving a ferrari but you’re not! I lurve your blog and steal ideas from it to use in my conversation with people all the time.

  20. It is good that you can look back on your journey and see how far you’ve come and the influences that shaped you, including the Great Potter you mention. We are evolving. It would be interesting, I think, to read your review, say a couple of years down the road. Thanks for sharing. An enjoyable read indeed.

  21. I am a long way from my teens and twenties when my poems and art were decidedly sorrow-filled which amazes me now as I had nothing to be sad about. And, now, after a typical life filled with loss, intermediate suffering, etc., my thoughts are preponderantly about happy and bright things. I love the concept of becoming a better person everyday.

    • “which amazes me now as I had nothing to be sad about.” Smiling big. I love this, G. YES, I’ve looked back on those hormonal years, wanting to bop my head. I love every bit of your wise soulful reflection.

  22. What a beautifully written and lovely post! I, too, believe that sometimes those ‘dark times’ do inspire us to write down our thoughts, often as poetry. At least that’s what happens to me. And, like you, the older I get and the more experienced in life I become, the more my writing/poetry reflects the simple joys of a sunset or a flock of birds flying overhead.

    • I love that, C. How as you mature and settle into yourself (sounds like acceptance and appreciation of self and blessings), your writing can reflect simple joys. Thanks for sharing.

      Have a wonderful wknd. =)


  23. Rare that a writer picks up the pen to share the joys and liberation of life. I know for myself, so many years ago, my first journal became the vain attempt to understand my broken heart. Even when good friends were there, the journal still got pages filled with the ramblings of the least understood emotions – Love … Wuthering Heights among others had programmed me as a child to think there must be suffering in love, and therefor the suffering must bleed into my words. I got dragged to blogging by a friend who thought I should share my writing, and oddly enough she was right, and I find that many who began writing in the same way I did tend to cross my path and I feel an obligation toward guidance out of the pit and pendulum into the true light and peace that love is, no matter how we are tossed by its waves or blown about by its winds. I once wrote a poem called “The Color Red” trying to write what a color is to someone who had never seen it … To the writer words are their colors, pens their brushes, and paper, the canvas. Yes, your colors have changed, but were would they be had they not started in that dark place. The light of a candle can light a dark black room, yet no matter how much darkness in any night, it cannot overwhelm the candles flame … Many blessings for this Spring Full moon Sunday … Let there be light !

  24. Thanks for this post … Here is one of the pieces that I read that I wanted to highlight: “But I no longer gravitate to the dark hues in my storytelling – because I don’t have to. I have found myself enjoying the beauty, redemption, transformation of my art as I discover these very elements in the poetry of life.” Way to go.

  25. Thanks for this. I’ll need to think more about this in my own life. Do you find writing easier when it comes out of or as the light rather than the dark? I know some people speak of writing as cathartic, and I wonder if you would describe your two experiences using this. Much to think about here!

    • “Do you find writing easier when it comes out of or as the light rather than the dark?” Good question, Allen. A more worthy answer may come to me with time. Mmm…I HAVE written posts out of angst, anger, sorrow, fear here. The interesting thing is that while readers have shared that they really can feel my words and feelings, I don’t believe I’ve left you all depressed in the wake of those words. =) Meaning, I am not ruled by my feelings as I once was, or my art/writing is not. (This is getting really interesting.) And yes, at a basic level, it was absolutely cathartic. I will be addressing the catharsis in a future post on art (which will probably close out the series on beauty, though I won’t be using the word.) Do I find writing in and out of the light easier? I am not sure. As I said, writing from the darkness often seems like a fast way in (to inspiration). Could this be part of our fallenness? Where even our art is marred? Coming out the other end can be healing and cathartic but I’m speaking of the entrance. I wouldn’t say writing out of the breathtaking inspiration of cerebral enlightenment or the panache of the sky has been easier. The colors of inspiration have their own energy, each offers me their own power. But the redemption of our art is something to think about, isn’t it? Sorry I went around the barn a bit. Was thinking aloud in the walking.

      • Thanks for this thoughtful reply! I certainly don’t feel depressed by your, or most other writers’, dark posts. I guess I simply assume that the writing is a way of dealing with the feeling so that we can master our feelings rather than the other way round. I suppose writing in response to joy etc can be understood differently. Here I don’t write to get rid of, or deal with, feelings etc but to share them. Interesting stuff to think about!

    • Julia Lund just a few notches below your thread seems to have an answer for you. Love it:

      “I have a theory that light is more awe-inspiring, more brilliant when it breaks through darkness, that it soars and illuminates not because of the dark, but despite it. Perhaps those who’ve been in dark places are those who best learn how to create with light?”

  26. I read someone’s post the other day in which she described how absence of sadness is now crippling her creativity. Now reading these beautifully written words fill me with optimism and reassurance 🙂 Quite inspiring, loved it 🙂

  27. What a beautiful post. I have a theory that light is more awe-inspiring, more brilliant when it breaks through darkness, that it soars and illuminates not because of the dark, but despite it. Perhaps those who’ve been in dark places are those who best learn how to create with light?

  28. There are times I wonder if I blog too happy –there have been some life tragedies which I have not expressed at all in my blog. At this time, I’ve decided not to reveal since I know a lot of readers who are strangers cannot comfort me. Comfort comes best from face to face friends and loved ones who know the fuller story.

    • Jean, I think you made a wise choice – the best one for you. I appreciate the self-awareness. And feel free to write me off the board anytime – even though it wouldn’t be face-to-face.


  29. I loved this. I actually read it the other day and it’s had me thinking. Friday I decided to pray for a resurrection in my life and within my family, marriage and finances. Today I’m finally feeling more hopeful. Maybe soon the “colors” of my writing will get brighter. Thanks for being a light.

    • What wonderful feedback. Wow…I will say a prayer for resurrection in those areas in your life, too. I don’t know who wouldn’t want/need new life there too. Thanks so much for letting me know.


  30. Often we don’t even know we are “in the dark” until we see the light. I like a saying: Sometimes we need to see the light, but other times we need to feel the heat!
    There was a lay monk, Brother Lawrence , a long time ago. He wrote a book , “The Practice of the
    Presence of God.” They hadn’t let him become a monk, because he wasn’t smart enough. But before he died all sorts of people, including Bishops, were coming to him to learn how to have such a peaceful, close, and constant relationship with God. Sometimes I think the smarter we are, the more complicated we make life.
    It’s probably an ego thing.

    • “I think the smarter we are, the more complicated we make life. It’s probably an ego thing.” Which is why Jesus said the Kingdom of God belongs to such as the little children. Love the feedback, Eileen. Thanks.

  31. It sounds like your writing embodies the full-spectrum of what you’ve lived. Balance of all aspects – the light and dark present even if not overemphasized – lives in your writing, D, I’d say. I hadn’t thought of this fullness in storytelling before as color… thanks for the insight.

  32. It is the nature of the creative to draw on all aspects of the emotional colour pallet, some paint beauty from the lighter end and bring a radiance of joy to their work, others spill their negative poisons onto innocent canvas and bleed themselves of darker influences. It is both a gift and a suffering to be creatively blessed, a gift to impart on others worthy of our vision and a suffering to painfully endure the isolation of been the only one to understand the full scope of their altered perspective.

    Whether it is curse or gift, faith or fatality, a taste for positivity or a stain of negative taint, it is the artists basic right, state and reserve to exude an extreme of their choice and indulge the rewarding/damning emotional well that is inspiration.

    From which end of the spectrum you get that inspiration…….. you don’t always get to decide

My Two Gold Cents in the Holistic Treasury

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