Jeff Goins is a writer I admire. He runs a successful business using his talents and skills and he wants to help others achieve the same. I have read his book, The Art of Work, and I’ve pre-ordered Real Artists Don’t Starve. Jeff subscribes to the idea that everyone has a calling and that it will manifest itself throughout your life until you acknowledge it and do something about it.
This is such a powerful message for me because I recently quit my job to write full-time. I was in a toxic work environment and I was feeling the effects physically, mentally, and emotionally. After reading Jeff’s book, The Art of Work, I realized how loudly my calling was screaming for my attention. The fact is, I don’t just want to write, I need to write.
As I’ve recovered over the past six months from various physical and mental manifestations of chronic stress, my writing has been sporadic, in fits and spurts, as I’ve found the energy to concentrate. I also found that the momentum of my recovery coincided with how much or how little I wrote.
I recently listened to a podcast by Jeff called The Portfolio Life, episode 120: The Hidden Benefits to Writing Daily and Blogging Consistently (available on iTunes and Castbox, among others). If there is one thing to take from this episode is that if you want to improve your skill in writing, you must write daily. Just like exercising daily improves your overall health, the health of your writing will benefit from daily practice.
Now I admit, I’ve heard this before. In her book, Thunder and Lightning, author Natalie Goldberg also prescribes daily writing practice. I think that the difference today is that we can be accountable in the public forum of a blog. If I write and publish every day, even if I only have one loyal reader, at least someone is reading. I have to show up and fulfill my end of the bargain.
The best type of writing practice is done in public.
However, a tendency of writers is to covet our favourite passages and ideas and hoard them in private until we are ready to reveal them to the world.
But, as William Faulkner said, “In writing, you must kill your darlings.” I don’t think he meant it literally. As a writer, my darlings often don’t see the light of day, remaining untarnished by public opinion. Exposing your darlings to scrutiny is akin to offering your lambs to the lion. We worry that they won’t survive.
But it is the only way to truly grow and evolve as a writer, and, in fact, creativity breeds more creativity. In her book, The Writing Life, Annie Dillard tells writers to “empty the well”, to leave the writing practice having given it your all. We often worry that if we share our best work, we will never come up with something better or even as good. Don’t fear, Annie says, the well will always fill up again with fresher, purer spring water from below.
Always share the best work you currently have. Never save it for later.
So, dear reader(s), I pledge to show up and publish every day. I hope you will not get tired of me, but if you do, feedback is welcome. Let me know if my words resonate with you, and if they don’t, please tell me why.