We all do things differently. There’s no one way to get to the finish line. There is suggestions on how to make the journey more enjoyable. There’s choices that could make it feel like you’re starting over but you’ll never start from the same place twice.
You may even get to a point in life where you have to rebuild. You may have to buy new materials but this time, you know what doesn’t work. And just because you’re starting over doesn’t mean you failed. The fact that you showed up for yourself, is sign that you’re doing better than you think.
On the flip side, trying something brand new, is hard. It’s scary and complex and can feel overwhelming. You might fail. You’re apt to make rookie mistakes because you’re a rookie and this is new but that doesn’t define who you are and it doesn’t define your future.
So whether you’re starting over or starting from scratch, be kind to yourself but most of all, forgive yourself for not knowing. Forgive yourself for knowing and not doing. Do better next time. But don’t quit.
The red sea divides the waves crash and hold their place she walks between unscathed untouched and welcomed into new lands as she breaks free from the past that clung to her like wet clothes on a hot summer day now she’s got sand between her toes and she doesn’t even need her sandals
What you’re willing to die for, should be the same as what you’re willing to live for. Death is inevitable. Not in a depressing way but we all know it’s coming. What’s unknown, though? Your greatness? The impact your writing will have? How much you will change with your mere existence? Those are all unknowns and they always will be. One of my favorite songs from Eminem’s Music to Be Murdered By -Side B album is his song titled Higher. Here’s a line
All I know is every time I think I hit my ceiling I go higher than I’ve ever fuckin’ been
That’s something worth thinking about. For a long time, I knew my daughter was the only thing in this life worth dying for. I said that religiously. But I was killing myself. I had destructive thoughts. While I did enjoy fitness, I still wasn’t taking in enough calories so it was taking a toll on my mental health. My digestion went downhill. My emotions went downhill which had an impact on my relationship and ability to make proper decisions for the future of my daughter.
Then it hit one day. Okay, you’d die for your baby and your mom but what are you willing to stay alive for? Life is fuckin hard as shit. So hard in fact that living in a healthy way is the best most precious gift I could ever give to myself and my daughter.
That shift in mindset changed my entire perspective on why I’m alive and how I should be thinking about my purpose, my motivations, my disciplines, and my relationships.
So yes, how did you die, but it also means (and more importantly) How did you live?
How Did You Die?
Did you tackle that trouble that came your way With a resolute heart and cheerful? Or hide your face from the light of day With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce, Or a trouble is what you make it, And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts, But only how did you take it?
You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what’s that! Come up with a smiling face. It’s nothing against you to fall down flat, But to lie there-that’s disgrace.
The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce Be proud of your blackened eye! It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts; It’s how did you fight-and why?
And though you be done to the death, what then? If you battled the best you could, If you played your part in the world of men, Why, the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce, And whether he’s slow or spry, It isn’t the fact that you’re dead that counts, But only how did you die?
Now when you first hear the writers den, you might think of Roald Dahl’s writing hut (which can be found here). A place where a writer goes to find solace so they can write novels, think, daydream, and nap. This is not the writers den I’m referring to. I’m referring to the writer’s den where writers are thrown to the lions. This is where their only option is to have faith.
There is a biblical story about a man of God named Daniel. I respect this story because so many times we roll over on our true beliefs or dreams or endeavors to bow to someone who doesn’t understand our vision. In this story, Daniel was demanded to stop with his religious practices of praying to God. Instead of having religious freedom, he was ordered to pray only to the king. Daniel, knowing his faith is where it needed to be, refused to obey this law, and continued to pray to his God. So, they totally saw Daniel pray and snitched on him to the King who was friends with Daniel.
So now, the king has to be a man of his word because he’s the king and it’s a written decree. When they bring Daniel to the king, he doesn’t waiver in his own belief. He stands tall for his beliefs and allows himself to be thrown into a lion’s den per order of the decree.
The king is friends with Daniel so the next morning, he runs with angst and worry to the lion’s den and finds that God sent an angel to shut the mouths of the lions.
The point here isn’t to question whether this story is true or if the lions were well fed before he was thrown in there. The point is that Daniel stood his ground in a time of great trial.
So, as writers, who are consciously writing (which means we are writing for more than just a story, we’re writing to grow) there are going to come times of great trial when it comes to your writing. People are going to speak ill of your belief and faith in writing. People are going to have great and logical reasons for you to stop writing, but you are going to be resilient. Like Daniel worked on and invested in his relationship with God, you have work on and invested in your relationship with your writing. Not only will you survive but you will have an even stronger ability to trust your work as an artist and as a conscious writer.
When someone mentions the writers den, I’d like you to think of it as a strong commitment to your craft. Not a place of solace away from the world, but a place in the world where you are doing exactly what you are called to do.
The writer must learn to accept that and trust that they are where they are for some reason. – Scott Myers from “Trust the Process”
You’re going to the edge and leaping over it. No one is going to understand that and don’t expect anyone to. Not even the few that have known you and understood you you’re entire life. Conscious writing leads you to new horizons. Conscious writing is going to take you to places you want and then it’s going to show you the places where you need to go. These are often two different things. But first, know that people are going to place their own fears and insecurities on you. They are going to make you question things you didn’t even think of doubting the minute you made this commitment. Just know, deep down in that beautiful soul of yours that those are not your worries to carry.
When you focus too much on tomorrow it takes away from today. If you took your time and slowly carved away at your words, that is true craftsmanship. You can’t rush art. You know what you have in mind. Put it together. Try it out. If that doesn’t work, it’s ok try another way.
The first draft of anything is shit.”— Ernest Hemingway
Writing doesn’t come out perfect on the first draft, if it did everyone would be a writer. (Well, I think everyone is a writer but that’s for another day.) A huge part of being a writer is editing your work. That is the art of writing. So if you know what you want to change and edit, you are already on the right path.
I would advise any beginning writer to write the first drafts as if no one else will ever read them — without a thought about publication -and only in the last draft to consider how the work will look from the outside. — Anne Tyler
I love how you poured everything into these new ideas. It shows courage. It shows you’re in this for the long term. You’re no quitter when you let everything hang loose in your first draft. Now it’s time to let it all unfold in flames and into your story.
I think the trouble starts when you sit down to write and imagine that you will achieve something magical and magnificent — and when you don’t, panic sets in. The solution is never to sit down and imagine that you will achieve something magical and magnificent. — Malcolm Gladwell
Don’t give up now. If you’re feeling like quitting, accept the thought but don’t dance with it. Think of negative small talk as background noise rather than allowing it to become a suggestion. You created something that came straight from inside your head and placed it on paper. You’re exactly where you need to be right now. Just keep going. Keep taking it one day at a time. You can do this.
“Every first draft is perfect because all the first draft has to do is exist. It’s perfect in its existence. The only way it could be imperfect would be to NOT exist.” ― Jane Smiley
Well, that contradicts the first quote but I agree. The first draft it is not meant to live up to impossible expectations. It’s meant to come alive and that is just the beginning of it all.