Embrace the power of play!

Tip of the Day

May 16, 2022

Creativity itself doesn't care at all about results - the only thing it craves is the process. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless.
-Elizabeth Gilbert

Dear Writers,

This week, as I began to revise, I also had to summon a whole lot of confidence.

In other words, ugh yes, my internal editor is giving me grief. She is telling me all the things that block my spirit to play. Things like: who are you to think you can write that? You're not that smart. You're not literary. And That picture book is stale. And: why did you ever think you could be a writer? 

I know I'm not alone.
I am pretty sure, at one point of another, we all feel like frauds.

But feeling like a fraud is NOT going to help any of us feel more creative or allow me to write the best story I can. These useless fears do not offer inspiration or for that matter, safety! Instead, they cloud our minds and hearts and shoot us down. 

It is impossible to reach for more when you are doubting yourself.

So, for all of you who have felt this way, too, here is this week's toolbox for conquering my internal editor. (Sometimes, also known as Jane!)

First, I open a container with a tight lid and tell her to get inside and be quiet. 

Sometimes, that works, other times, she just laughs at me. She is stronger than a tight lid.

Then, I look for some inspiration.

This week, I reread Melissa Sweet's amazing Zena Sutherland lecture. I took her words to heart:

In that lecture, she said, According to William Strunk Jr., the key to finding one’s style is by writing with sincerity, simplicity, and clarity, as well as by keeping in mind rule number thirteen from The Elements of Style (original edition), titled “Omit needless words”:

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

Feeling a little better, I (of course) went to the journal. 

This week, I used my first pomodoro to write to myself about how far I've come and how much I've succeeded. (This was much easier after planning what I wanted to achieve in this draft.) Note: I'm not talking about publications! That's not something I can control! 

Instead, I wrote about how much fun it has been to experiment with different genres--especially the adult mystery. And that I can still make myself laugh. And that I am more determined than ever. I thought about my love of play. I drew my characters. I collaged some fun words. I asked and answered some big questions.

What do you need to say to yourself? When was the last time you patted yourself on the back for being brave? And determined? And ambitious?

To write, I must believe in my imagination.
I must believe that creativity is not out of reach.
I must feel free to experiment. And play. And not worry so much (even though worrying is my super power!)

After two days, I zeroed in on the last time I felt confident. And bold. I reminded myself how much fun it is to create without expectations, even my own! I also looked at my schedule: Not for the first time, I reminded myself that I am happiest when I write first thing in the morning! Followed by exercise. Followed by reading! And doing things! The writing life is not just about writing. It's about listening and watching and living!

Next, I made myself a few "reminder" cards, things like:

The process is the point!
When in doubt, remember to PLAY!
Need a break? DANCE! No one can see you on the 36th floor!

Are you ready to stretch? Reach? Groan? Embrace the power of play?

This week, let's give ourselves two things:
  • a pep talk
  • permission to shoot for the moon! With gusto!

Let's remind ourselves why we are writing--why we have chosen this wildly ambitious life.

Write down as many accomplishments as you can. You are NOT in the same place you were last year. Or the year before. What have you written? What other work have you done? Are you raising kids? Planning an event? Traveling? 

Also: write down ALL the things that make you happy.
And make time for some of that.

Last, if you are in the throws of feeling nervous about your process, phone a friend! Or get to a retreat! Share your feelings with others. Nothing is more empowering than our writing community. Dispelling myths like imposter syndrome can help us revive our energy! And find new glimmers. This week, when I shared my fears with a friend, I was reminded that I am NOT alone. We all face challenges. There is NO ticking clock! And once I got all that out of my system, it became clear that my revision is totally doable. I have a plan! I can do it! I can reach and grow and get it done.

There are many things we cannot control in this career, but when we sit down to write, one thing is: we can enjoy being creative. This is the ultimate Monday Motivation! We can celebrate our efforts. And believe in ourselves. We can sit down at the writing desk and NOT listen to our fears. 

No apologies, right?

Let's put those voices aside and get back to it, okay? We all have so much we want to say. 

Have a great writing week!

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