What’s your story? Have you started writing it yet? Maybe you suspect you have a story inside you, but don’t know where to start. Or you’re having doubts about whether it’s even worth telling. Perhaps you’ve attempted a draft, but now find yourself wondering if what you’ve written is any good. Wherever you are on this journey, here are five quotes to encourage you (and me) to stop procrastinating and put pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard. Or voice to recording device. It doesn’t matter how you do it. It’s just important that you do.
Because your story matters.
Charles de Lint’s words speak of the unique perspective each of us brings to the world. It can be tempting, though, to listen to that voice that whispers, Not good enough, to think, Who am I kidding? I should just give up now. Especially when we compare ourselves to others – a more published novelist, a popular blogger or an expert in our area of interest. Self-doubt creeps in. We see deficiencies instead of strengths.
Consider, then, Anne Lamott’s words:
If Anne Lamott and Ernest Hemingway can acknowledge ‘terrible first efforts’ then surely we can treat ourselves more gently. It was only after I gave myself permission to write ‘terrible first efforts’ that I was able to develop a consistent writing routine. Until then, procrastination and self-doubt often won out. In a variation of Hemingway’s words, I say, ‘All my first drafts are crap, and that’s okay. Making the words sing – that’s what editing is for.’ Don’t get me wrong, procrastination, self-doubt – and distraction – still challenge me at times. The difference is that I now turn up to the page whether I feel like it or not.
Part of my daily practice is to write three pages longhand, as Julia Cameron encourages in her book The Artist’s Way. I regularly open my journal (Cameron calls them ‘morning pages‘) with no idea what to write. I often start with phrases like, ‘finding it difficult to settle down to it’ or ‘don’t know where to start today.’ But there is something about just beginning, writing regardless of how rough the words sound. The critical part is simply putting pen to paper. And somehow, most days, I write my way into writing.
But even after I have finished a piece of writing, it’s not long before the inner critic once again whispers (or shouts) in my ear. It’s just a question of time, so when it happens to you, remember this:
Once again, my Five Faves have turned into six. And here’s another (I couldn’t go past fellow Australian Bryce Courtney):
I’d love to hear about your experience of turning up to the page and discovering what it is you have to say, what stories only you can tell.