Most daydreamers are familiar with the euphoria that accompanies a vision. But empowerment is not realized until that vision is supported by a viable, sustainable plan with concrete goals. That’s the philosophy of Rev. Nathaniel Gadsden, founder of the Writers Wordshop, a not-for-profit organization based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, that helps poets develop their inner voice.
Gadsden has found that his techniques are not only helpful in poetry, but in many areas of goal planning. “I (write) everything down, which has allowed me to hone in on my ministry and understand my calling for life,” explains Gadsden, 54, who serves as pastor of Imani African Christian Church. He is also the author of Learning Self-Therapy Through Writing (Universal Publishers; $19.95). In his book, Gadsen details four bridges: I am, I can, I want to, and I’ll do it today.
For anyone who is going through a transition in life, whether it is starting a new career or launching a business, Gadsden says the following:
Before giving birth to the Writer’s Wordshop (www.nathanielgadsen.com) in 1977, Gadsden took personal inventory of what he had in stock. “Each one of us is a living human document. Your experiences are critical to who you’ve become as an individual.” Gadsden suggests that before you switch careers or begin writing a business plan, take stock of your experiences (the successes and the failures). Also, take into account your family of origin and your family of choice, since they are both important in how you see yourself as an individual. Write down whatever you can remember from when you were 2 years old to two weeks ago, Gadsden advises.
Aspiring entrepreneurs are often told to assess what they can do. The Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov/starting_business/startup/basics.html) suggests that writing down your experiences will help you answer questions like: “How good am I at making quick, difficult decisions under pressure? Do I have the physical and emotional stamina to run a business? How well do I plan and organize? How will my new career affect my family and personal relationships?” Answering such questions honestly will also determine the depths of your desire to turn a new corner in life.
I WANT TO
Since its inception, critically acclaimed poets like Sonia Sanchez, Etheridge Knight, and the late Gwendolyn Brooks have presented at the Writers Wordshop. Gadsden met many of these writers long before he started the Wordshop. “The ‘I am’ and ‘I can’ had been answered for me, but after meeting them I realized this is what I wanted to do,” says Gadsden. “Out of that passion grew a plan. I put my ideas down on paper and began to conceptualize how I would do it myself.”
I’LL DO IT TODAY
Put your plan into action. Gadsden looked to more than poets for help. He worked with a grant writer at the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts to create a proposal for funding and to develop an organizational framework. He not only received free professional advice but also a $3,000 grant. “The worst thing you can