Few people will author a bestseller, speak at conferences, or accept a Pulitzer Prize.
Most of us will work steadily over the years, faithfully putting down word after word as best we can. We’ll try to stay focused and motivated. We’ll chew our fingernails, suck down countless cups of coffee or tea, attend more conferences than we can afford, and check our inbox every ten minutes to see if the editor we queried has sent a response.
Some of us will lose hope. We’ll quit our novel halfway through. We’ll delete our short story. We’ll burn our journals. We’ll quit our writing group and sell our copy of the Chicago Manual of Style.
If that’s you, I hope you’ll realize not long after the embers cool from the night of journal-burning that you want to write after all. Regardless of the outcome. Regardless of outside affirmation. Regardless of negative reviews or the silence in the comments section at your blog or the “no” you heard from yet another editor, I hope you wake up tomorrow, pour a cup of coffee, open a new journal or Word document or fresh spiral-bound notebook and start again.
And as you sit there with your coffee, I hope you realize you’ve learned more about yourself and your craft over the years than you ever imagined. By writing regularly and taking the risk to send your work out, you’ve grown. You’ve tried to be honest and real instead of mimicking others or chasing commercial gain. You’ve tried to open your heart to your readers—wondering sometimes if you have more than one reader—and you’ll realize you’re ready to write for those readers again.
You know what? Don’t wait until tomorrow.
Today, let’s flip open our journals or notebooks or laptops and scratch or tap out a few more paragraphs of our works-in-progress. Let’s write another blog post, another article, another poem, another chapter in that book.
No one said it would be easy. We have to wake up and do it anyway. Let’s keep showing up with our life experience and writing ability and heart and passion and understanding, and let’s do the work.
Anne Lamott wrote in Bird by Bird:
[I]f you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse. (235)
Today, write the clearest and truest words you can find. If you do, you are living the writing life, doing the work of a writer. As Anne says, if any of us writes to the best of our ability, doing our best to understand and communicate, our work will shine “like its own little lighthouse.”
Today, please write. Your words, like a lighthouse, may help someone find his way home.
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[I]f you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse. –Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
Source: Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. New York: Anchor Books, 1995. Print. (235)
Is your writing life all it can be?
Let this book act as your personal coach, to explore the writing life you already have and the writing life you wish for, and close the gap between the two.
“A genial marriage of practice and theory. For writers new and seasoned. This book is a winner.”
—Phil Gulley, author of Front Porch Tales