Mon, February 18 2013
I love and hate to write. Here are three pieces of advice based on my daily struggle with blogging, fiction and work-related writing. I share these as a student, not a master. These are lessons I re-learn every day in the creative process. Writing is that way - casting you forever in the role of novice, whether you enjoy it or not.
1. Run toward uncomfortable. If you write something that makes you want to hide or erase, keep going straight to that feeling. You’re on to something.
2. Relentlessly live in that uncomfortable place as a way of life, ignoring every excuse and criticism. This is the work of writing. You pitch a tent in that awful, uncomfortable patch of land and spend time there every day, despite the harsh conditions, the many reasons you don’t have time to be there, and that loud inner critic who keeps distracting you.
3. Go there for no other reason than your own. Write what you want to read, say what must, lay down what matters to you. Don’t edit yet; just do what compels you. This isn’t about seeking love, approval or fame. They are rarely the results of writing anyway. Remember - you’re in a tent in the wilderness, not on a stage. This is about feeding yourself.
If you do these things, you will produce a work of writing. Keep going till you feel done or are truly stuck. Show it to smart people. Listen. It will be horrible to hear anything other than it is perfect. Listen anyway. Listen some more. Take it in and turn it back into your writing. It will get better, and you’ll be ready to run back to that rocky ground where your tent awaits.
Eventually, something will emerge. It will never match what you first imagined, but it will be something you can declare good enough. If you get that far, I applaud you. It’s not easy, and yet you stayed and worked and made it so. The rest of us are clapping, because we know how hard it is.