Abandon the idea that you will like everything you write as soon as it’s written. Abandon the idea that you will like everything you write, period.
Get rid of it and try your hardest not to pick it back up again. I ache to know how many songs the greats have thrown away in between the ones the world knows.
Remember the tin man, riddled with rust, and how he had to move gently through oiled joints to walk again. How he had to keep moving or the rust would return to him.
If you feel rusty, as I do, walk it off slowly, deliberately, and keep moving. You don’t have to start running, but you do have to stay in motion.
I imagine that he had dreams of waking up rust free and being able—suddenly—to move freely. I imagine that because I have those dreams, too, and they leave me breathless.
Stop writing because of your goals. Have them, sure, but don’t write because of them.
You’re writing a book because you have this great idea, see? I don’t think you can write because you’re going to try and get it published. And maybe I’m wrong.
But writing started dying for me when I started doing it because of agents and publishers. I didn’t mean to, but it was then that I stopped writing for love.
It was then that I stopped writing because it was all I could think about and all I was rushing home after work to do.
I started writing in terms of, “Someone will see this when it’s done,” instead of in terms of the beautiful equations in lines I used to love to solve.
I took writing about my sadness to heal and turned it into wondering what others might think about my sadness.
If I can tell you anything (and really I can’t) it’s to stop writing for absolutely any other reason than your love and need of it. Keep your goals, sure. Keep your deadlines.
But don’t let them become your reasons. Share your writing if you want to, but remember that you never have to. You can write all the secrets you want.
And if you do share it, find your worth first. Because the world doesn’t always show up in the ways you hoped it might. With praise or accolades or people sharing your words.
(I’m telling myself this now, again.) Remember that it is valid if three people see it, or if thousands do, or if no one does.
It is your baby and no one else has to build it up in order for you to cherish it. A few final things. Read. For the love of god, please read.
Love of books doesn’t serve you very well if you just have them on your shelves. But stop reading books on writing, when you need to. Stop reading your peers, when you need to.
Sometimes we are still too fragile for those things. Comparison is not your friend. Flowers are. But yourself some goddamn flowers, and make your home a space you actually want to live. Stretch.
Give your mind time to rest. Put the phone down. A lot. Limit your time on social media. It retrains our brains to have shorter attention spans, and that’s no good for writing.
Ask yourself hard questions and write the answers but write about the mundane shit too, as if peeling tangelos was the most soul stirring part of your day.
Ignore this if it freaks you out, and write your own. I feel rusty. And do I like these paragraphs? Not really.
But I wrote them because I needed to counsel with myself on how to stop my spirit from dying a slow death. I will want to edit this. I will want to rewrite this.
But today I need to just write something raw.
Stop saying, “you need to let yourself write shit,” and say instead, “I need to let myself write something raw,” because there is a difference in your frame of mind when you make the distinction.
I’ll tell myself I don’t give a shit if people read it and like it, but I do. But I didn’t write it for them.
I wrote it because it’s oil and I am the tin man and I’m fucking sick of seeing the world only from my yard.