I figured I should do a blog post today since I may not get one in over the next few days. I’ll be traveling and may be either (a) inspired to work on other writing or (b) so utterly consumed with what I’m doing that I forget I even have a computer with me.
But I didn’t really know what to write about. So I went to my handy-dandy file of posts and articles by people smarter than me and saw a pattern emerge from a few of the posts. (It may have something to do with the fact that I’m currently 2/3 of the way through The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.)
So, the theme: If you want to be a writer, you write. We’ll walk through the posts starting with the nice one and finishing with the one that kicks your ass because you’re still reading this post instead of writing.
First up:PCW with Where Your Time Is
The post is good in a general “what are you doing with your life” sort of way. But it’s also relevant to people who say they want to be writers, because, as PCW says:
“When a person decides to do anything that takes time, the time has to come from somewhere else….Quite often, it’s the writing time that gets cut ‘temporarily’ (as if there’s ever going to be more than 24 hours in a day). Which, logically, says that writing time is less important than whatever you’re doing instead.”
Too true. We make choices about how we spend every day of our lives. And those choices show what we do and don’t value. So, if you value writing, then you make time for it. No matter how fascinating watching reality TV might be…
Second up: Chuck Wendig with The Hardest Writerly Truth of Them All
This is his response to people who want the secret sauce to getting motivated.
“You just do.”
Yep. You don’t wait for the stars to align, you don’t wait for the perfect idea. You just do.
(As an aside. I thought about writing that first novel for a good five years off and on. But I worried how I was going to come up with all those character and place names. Seriously, that was my concern. It took so much effort to name things! Haha. Well, when I finally did sit down and start writing that wasn’t even an issue–the Internet is a beautiful thing. That was just the excuse I’d used to keep me from doing the one thing I needed to do to finish that first story–WRITE.)
(Oh, and, as it turns out, I didn’t write that story after all. Oops.)
So, more Chuck Wendig wisdom:
“I know, I sound unsympathetic — trust me, it’s the opposite. I’m completely sympathetic. I’ve been there. I’m sometimes there still. It doesn’t change the cold, hard fact that all the power lies with you. In your brain. In your hands.”
You really have to read the whole post. There are other parts of it I would try to quote, but they’re best read in context because they’re written in that incredible, insane way that only Wendig can do.
And, finally, if you’re still reading this, QQ on How to shake writer’s block
I think step #2 in the list sums it up the best, but you should read the whole list:
“You hungry? Gotta pee? Need to write a goddamn grocery list? Too bad, motherfucker. You have writing to do.”
So, that’s how you get past writer’s block. You just ignore it and write anyway. Write gibberish. Write about how much it sucks to have writer’s block.
But you sit down and you put words to paper.
That’s also the message in The War of Art (which I’d heard a handful of people rave about before I bought it). The book’s a little more on the inspirational/religious side than I generally prefer, but there’s still a lot of good stuff in there.
And he makes a good point–most of us show up for our jobs every single day whether we really want to or not. So, if you can show up for a job that you really don’t like on a daily basis, then why can’t you show up for your writing every day?
And why are you still reading this? Go write. Or go do whatever else it is that you really want to do in your little heart of hearts. What are you scared of? What comes into your mind that you immediately dismiss and bury with other thoughts and activities? Go do that. (Because maybe this whole being a writer thing is actually your diversion from what you really want to do with your life…)
In the book, Pressfield says that Hitler wanted to be an artist, but he never succeeded. he says, “Call it overstatement but I’ll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.”
It’s amazing what people can accomplish while trying to avoid the one thing they really want.
So what is it that you’re running from? Stop. Turn around. And do it already.