It is good to work. Work with love and think of liking it when you do it. It is easy and interesting. It is a privilege. There is nothing hard about it but your anxious vanity and fear of failure.
And when you work on your writing remember these things. Work with all your intelligence and love. Work freely and rollickingly as though talking to a friend who loves you. Mentally thumb your nose at the know-it-alls, jeerers, critics, doubters.
— Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write
I’m declaring this the year of writing smart and not scared. What do I mean?
For one, I want to approach my writing with intelligence and love. I want to work freely and rollickingly (is there a better, more joyful word to describe doing the things we love to do?). In other words, I want to be a whole lot more like Brenda Ueland.
Here’s my game plan:
1. I want to be aware of the work beneath the work. Am I involved in frantic wheel spinning because I feel I need to produce something? What’s my motivation behind my need to be busy? More often than not, I’m learning it’s fear.
2. I want to be proactive instead of reactive. Sometimes the writing life means there is nothing new to show, but important work has been done nonetheless. (I’m thinking of all the behind-the-scenes work that never, ever is efficient and sometimes feels like wasted time.) I want to learn to be more comfortable with what’s best for the work. And I want to think through what this means for each project (ideally ahead of time) so I’m not just putting out fires, but really benefiting the writing (and my learning, too).
3. I want my work, even when it’s hard, to bring about joy and satisfaction. Sorry, Brenda. I do believe it’s hard. But I still want the rollicking! I’m living my dream. There is so much to love: The freedom to experiment and play. The chance to write stuff that only I’ll ever see; to make things that might interest no one else, but will satisfy me. The room to try things that feel extra niche-y. The opportunity to pursue these things because the work feels like talking to a friend who loves me.
4. I will not be afraid of anxious vanity. I’m one to stress and worry about life in general. And this seeps into my writing life a lot. (I’m really awful when it comes to number 21 on this list.) I’m an all-out pro when it comes to worrying that I can’t write another book. I find it hard to give my work the space to grow from its fragile, junky beginnings, trusting it will one day be able to stand on its own. It’s way too easy to compare fledging drafts to finished books. That isn’t fair to the new work or to my creative process.