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.
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?
As writers, it’s important to value the process, but it’s trusting in your writing that helps deliver it to world. When I find myself doubting my work, it brings me down. I get writers block. I can get overly frustrated while I’m creating, so then I can’t get it finished. That’s when creating isn’t fun for me anymore. So, we need to trust our writing because it helps us to be confident in what we’re creating. We need to write because it saves people. So here’s seven ways to trust your writing so the world can keep on survive.
“If you have a strong purpose in life, you don’t have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
Know your purpose
Once you know why you’re writing, it makes it easier to stay committed to your work. It gives your work a rich touch that’s unique to you. Use your purpose, goals, and values as beacons to get you through the rough patches. There’s a million reasons to quit, but you only need one to keep going. Discipline is great. Motivation is great. Determination is great. But none of those things are going to push you through your doubts, your blocks, and whatever else the universe throws at you. Find your purpose and let it distract you from all the reasons you have to quit.
Always take time to acknowledge your efforts
If you’re a writer, your work begins before you put fingers to keyboard. Whatever writing you’re working on, remind yourself how far you’ve come to get to this point. Recognize your efforts so that you can feel confident about your current skill level. Then keep moving forward.
“Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea.” -Edward de Bono
Understand that you’re contribution is valuable
What you have to share is irreplaceable. We are still discovering artists from centuries ago. You never know who you are inspiring by putting your writing out there. There’s a lot of shy people who fear speaking up to support your writing, but they still are moved by it. If for the briefest moment you rescue someone from a dark place, your work has fulfilled its purpose. This world has only a handful of moments that are pure beauty buried in the midst of a whole lot of bullshit. It doesn’t matter how you look at it. Dead is dead, gone is gone, and sometimes we are so lonely we can’t get out of bed. We need your work to get out of bed. We need your work to take one more breath. We need your work to remind us that there are times when everything is not ok and even then, we can still bask in a moment of bliss.
Start new everyday
Wake up with brand new expectations for the writing that needs to be done. Let go of whatever you didn’t finish the previous day and just focus on finishing your goals for that day. You may ask, well what if I get behind? Yes, that is a great question. I used to overwhelm myself when I didn’t complete my task list and it would snowball throughout the week until Friday came and I was ready quit because I could never catch back up. I’d find my self wrapped up with what I didn’t complete the day before. When I began to start everyday as a new day, the snowball effect disappeared, and I was still getting my work done in a mindful manor. Also, knowing that tomorrow is a fresh start and my work won’t snowball, means if I don’t push myself a bit harder to finish it, it’s not getting done. Which will put me past my deadline. It’s effective. Start everyday as a new day and don’t allow the unfinished work snowball into an anxious mess.
Don’t overthink it
A good chunk of the time, it’s important for me to just throw my work out there. If I edit a piece too much it can lose its initial meaning. It’s ok to allow your writing to evolve, but don’t ruminate on it to the point of not sharing. Which leads to my next point …
“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
― Ann Landers
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.
Faith is a knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof. — Khalil Gibran
We are left here alone to create, to edit, to choose the choices our characters decide to take. Someone has to trust in us. Someone has to believe we are going to get somewhere with this. So we, us writers, must do the believing. We must have faith in ourselves and our work even when no one else can see the value. Even when we have nothing to prove, we are at our best when we believe and have faith in ourselves.
“Inspiration is the windfall from hard work and focus. Muses are too unreliable to keep on the payroll.” ― Helen Hanson
Ideas are such an interesting thing. They can hit us like a load of bricks. They can grow on us. They can evolve into something completely different. Where do they come from? How do we lose them so easily. How do some stick around more than others?
These are all interesting questions. Over time we’ve attributed our gift of ideas to the muse, but I don’t think that’s right. I think we use our own minds from our own experiences to inspire ourselves. A muse which could be anything, a gust of wind, a spark, a man with few words, is the result of being conscious. So when we give the muse all the credit, it takes away from our own ability to be aware.
Ideas come from within ourselves. We think, and turnover, and observe minute details within our daily lives. We question our characters and when we can’t find the answer we make it up. We recall places and fill in the blanks with our own creativity, intentional or not. As humans….
What is it that I do not say
Mouth slammed shut like my tongue is a trapped mouse
the most important thoughts lead to the ocean
Here’s my hand please see inside me
Help me filter through the bullshit
So I can finally say what I want to say