One of the most difficult things to untangle yourself from as a writer are all the stories we’d told ourselves or that we’d read in bios or that we’d fantasized about or told to us by teachers and professors and other writers, published or otherwise. These stories are all bullshit.
All stories you tell yourself are bullshit to a certain extent, but the stories that lead you away from creativity and growth and innocence and play and wonder are the most bullshitiest bullshit stories of all. The Ego likes to tell you stories of how you can’t be a true writer, how these are the reasons why, and that you’ll always never be where you want to be, et fucking cetera because the ego don’t want you to be a writer.
I do. Don’t listen to those stories.
But guess what? This the perfect time right now to be asking ourselves if these stories SERVE us? I mean, you got time, right?
Start by asking yourself some questions. Is spending all of your time trying to perfect your style or your grammar or even your platform or your fan base or your craft really going to help if what you’re writing is what OTHER PEOPLE OR IDEAS (see: stories) want? This is what I’m asking myself these days.
I’m also asking this: Where are the things that I craft that I LOVE?
WRITE YOUR EVER-LOVING HEART OUT
Write like you don’t give a shit about publishing.
Write like it’s going to become vapor when the sun goes down.
Write like you are hanging out with your child-self.
Write like you just want to let it out.
Write from your spirit and your heart instead of your mind.
Write the shittiest thing ever but feels so good!
Write like it’s just a thing that you do that you love, and not your job and not life-or-death and not something to save humanity and not Art with a capital A.
Write like there are no races, no beliefs, no nationalities, no creeds nor no political flags. Just write like a goddamned kid again—with fears, hopes, dreams, goals, play, kindness, wonder, awe, and heart.
Write like your soul craves you write.
Write like you are an instrument of the universe and you’re okay with that.
Write because you fucking love it, and who cares what it looks like. Dare to Suck.
Take a deep breath, realize that you are going to die someday and know that when you leave this realm, you can’t take anything with you. All you’ll have is the spirit you’ve been tending to and feeding and nourishing—or maybe ignoring and hurting. Is your spirit going to care what you published, what people thought of your work, how many awards you got? Or even bigger than that, how many people you’ve touched, how many kids you inspired? Good AND bad, we can’t take it with us, none of it.
Or how about this: is your spirit going to remember the days when you sat down, let it all go, and accepted all of who you are and wrote from that place as honestly as you could at that time, as best as you could at that time, and as vulnerable as you could at that time? And then, knowing how scary and uncontrollable you feel, send out to someone to critique, publish, read, or whatever?
I bet you when you everything that when we die die die, your spirit will glow that much brighter for all the times you gave of yourself freely to your craft. Damn the consequences and repercussions, but really opened up and let yourself out.
It’s simple but it’s hard. But that’s okay, you know why?
BECAUSE NO ONE HAS ANY IDEA WHAT THEY’RE DOING!
No, not him. Certainly not them. Not her nor her nor them nor him or him or them or them or those people definitely not or them and certainly not the ones you care about the most and most certainly not YOU and THAT’S OKAY. You’re not supposed to know what you’re doing.
Now, don’t think you can’t be responsible; you should be. But it helps to know that you’re not making any mistakes because there are no such thing as mistakes. There are simply ways, ways that are true for him/her or them. And you. That’s it. There is no “answer”. Just find a way. Do your best.
Life is an action, not a thing.
So write instead of “written”. Write instead of “just having written”.
Write instead of “wrote”.
Write instead of “gonna write” and “need to write” and “have to write” and “want to write.”
Run as fast as you can to your desk, fingers stuck in ears and yelling LALALALALA and
WRITE YOUR HEART OUT!
We really don’t need anything more, please. The world has every single other voice in the world but yours, so please just give us that. You don’t have to try to be something. You will try, and that’s okay, but keep trying to give us your voice and your voice only until you do.
You know where it is. It’s not about forcing it or working hard or learning a bunch of things to get it. Just be silent, take some big breaths, and just write. Don’t judge, don’t critique (and try not to judge that you judged yourself) and just write. And keep writing.
When you write your HEAD out, it can be okay or even beautiful and uplifting and smart and good. But when you write your HEART out, your body disappears as quickly and as easily as the room does.
(Those are amazing days, aren’t they? You feel like you’ve been kidnapped and dumped at a bus terminal hours later. You shuffle, weakened, to the bathroom; you shuffle, hungry, to the kitchen; and you shuffle, exhausted, to the bedroom—all while smiling the smile that no food, booze, exercise, sex, parenting skill nor even the human ways of religion, politics, sports, game, drug, or book could EVER cause because you’ve honest to god CREATED something. So what if it doesn’t make you feel like this all of the time? In these moments of true creativity, it did and it always will because it’ll always be there IF WE ALLOW OURSELVES TO BE WITH IT.)
So have fun. When you’re serious, your whole face and body scrunches up, your spirit gets trapped, and then you get cramps and gas and headaches. That’s why it feels better and why it’s so funny when you fart—you’re getting rid of some seriousness.
One other thing. Your life has some writing in it, not the other way around. Don’t make your writing your world and shut out the rest. There’s no reason to think that you can’t have fun and be a human being, or that you can’t be a father or a brother or an uncle or a lover because you’re a writer.
Don’t tell that story anymore to yourself, it doesn’t serve anyone to cut yourself off from humanity and all its joy and, yes, pain. All writers—ALL writers—have been humans, too, even if the history books don’t tell us so. Shakespeare had to mow the lawn, Virginia Woolf picked her nose a lot, Stephen King changed diapers.
And guess what? None of them were convinced they were writers. Get Stephen King over here, he’ll vouch for me. Stop thinking that writers are gods and goddesses, stop thinking that they shit masterpieces, stop thinking that they had it all figured, and please please stop thinking that the pain they went through is something you have to go through, too. You don’t and you shouldn’t.
It’s like Joan Osborne song, ‘One of Us’, about God riding the bus, being a slob, and having no one call him up at home at night except for the Pope. What if God was one of us?
What if your heroes were just like you, friend? Well guess what, they are. Ask any one of them. They’re realer than you think, regardless of what lighting they use for their Instagram Live videos. Humans are all slobs, all beautiful, all cunning, all scared, all hopeful and hopeless, all devious, all creative, and all children, and that’s what’s so awesome! That’s our superpower–to create.
We’ve been given a gift. Let’s embrace it. Use it.
Tell your story, not the story that’s been told to you. YOUR story.
So how about it? Will you write your heart out with me? Not for anyone else, but yourself? Will you have faith in yourself, love yourself, respect yourself, and stick up for yourself?
Write your heart out. I promise you’ll be okay.
Create and Complete…a complete mess and then clean it up as best you can and then submit it and then repeat. Whatever you’re writing, when the doors open and things start to get back to normal, people will need to read stories. What will yours be?
Write your heart out.
Love you all. See ya tomorrow.
P.S. I wrote this post for myself as well as for you. We all need to be reminded now and then, especially me. Let’s do this!