Write! That’s what a writer does. If that’s what you want to do, then do it! Write. This is all you need to do. It doesn’t need to be good or make sense or be published. It doesn’t have to be for anyone but your Muse and you. The point is to write. This is about quantity more than quality. Just keep working. The quality will come. All you need to do is put in your time. Then, without realizing it, suddenly, after 30 minutes or an hour or a day or a week, or months or years, something worth sharing with the world will come to you. Until then, engage in the physical act of your work. Put in your time. That is all you have to do. That’s what a writer does. That’s what I do.
Am I any good? It doesn’t matter. Am I pretentious or boring or arrogant? Who cares? Who are these critics who are judging me? Are they doing their own work? In fact, are they even real or are they just phantoms I’ve conjured to keep me from doing my work? Steven Pressfield says rationalization is resistance’s spin-doctor. Resistance uses rationalizations to hide my fear. The rationalizations have some truth to them. That’s why they’re so powerful. Maybe I am pretentious or boring or arrogant. Who am I to offer any answers to anyone? I have enough trouble keeping my own body and soul together some days. But I know this: having a Purpose and committing to it has changed my life. Committing to my Muse has changed my life.
So I keep writing. I keep in my Purpose. I almost don’t even care what happens with my writing. I almost don’t even care if I don’t get to do this for a living. Almost. Of course I care. Of course those are my goals. But my greater goal is to sit here every day and write. My greatest goal every day is to spend my life with my Muse in our house on the beach. So here I sit now. I could be doing just about anything else, but there is nothing else I’d rather be doing. This needs to be my priority. Otherwise I’ll never get there.
But until I am there, I’m going to keep doing this. I’m going to keep writing. I should never have allowed self-doubt to push me around so much, but maybe even that was part of the process. How truly important is to me? Can I work past the doubts? Is this just a hobby? No. This is my life. No hobby ever made me feel this good.
All of this, by the way, is what we writers call a free-write. This is mostly stream-of-consciousness writing. I’m just trying to get words on a screen. This is how Purpose should be approached. You just show up and do your work and see what happens. This is about time, the amount of time one puts in. Eventually all that time pays off, but when it does, that isn’t the end. That’s only a new beginning. When I become a good teacher, I have to work to be better. I learned a very bitter lesson about resting on your laurels. Eventually you wind up on your butt. If I wrote the book tomorrow, and it sold a million copies, I’d need to start a new one the next day. And it wouldn’t matter if the next book sold no copies at all, as long as I knew I did my best.
So this free-write is my very best work at the moment. It’s my best because I’m sitting here and doing it. And that’s the secret. We sit here and we do it. What is “it?” “It” is that thing we have to do, that thing we love. “It” is getting to the one we love. “It” is using every moment we can to get to that life God has created for each of us. “It” is not allowing anything to get in our way. “It” is closing our ears to criticism, but staying open to truth.
That leads me to another question. How will I know how to improve or change? Just keep doing your work. The answers will come. If you make a mistake, you’ll know soon enough. If someone gives you advice, and it doesn’t work out, you’ll know that soon enough too. As long as you keep working, you’ll learn. You may falter or stumble or try things that don’t work out or may be for another time. What I have learned is that reading tends to help me. But the thing that helps me the most is to just keep pounding away at the keyboard. As long as my Muse and I are happy with my work, that’s all that really matters anyway.
I think what my Muse values the most is that I show up.
And that’s what this whole free-write has been about – showing up. Every morning I get up between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. and I write for three pages. I’ve written over 700 pages this way. Nobody else has read them and even I haven’t read most of them. I just write them and when I fill a notebook, I put it in a box with all the other notebooks and I start a new one. How long will I do this? For the rest of my life, God willing.
That’s what I mean by showing up. I’ve written over 700 pages that no one will ever see. But I showed up and that’s all that matters. If I keep showing up, one day, my goals will show up for me. Until then, and after then, especially after then, I will Get Started and Keep Going…because that’s what a writer does.