Whenever I teach a writing class, I let the students know up front that we’re really talking about life. It may SEEM like we’re discussing specific details and the structure of scene, but that’s only a disguise. Writing is life, and vice versa.
So here’s a tip for all budding writers that applies to all seekers as well:
Read the book If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland (the lovely woman pictured here). Read it if for no other reason than she includes the most delightful chapter titles, such as “Why Women Who Do Too Much Housework Should Neglect It for Their Writing.”
I like this book for all sorts of reasons. One, it originally was published in 1938 and, like any classic, is relevant and contemporary 75+ years later. But it also reinforces a message that applies equally to writing and life.
Be reckless! Ueland says. Be a lion…or a pirate. Don’t worry about impressing others.
Too many people, she says, have been taught “that writing is something special and not just talking on paper.”
That’s it. Just talking on paper. Not second-guessing yourself. Not letting your critical ego run the show. Not editing yourself to be acceptable.
When you talk, you don’t cast out a sentence, then reel it back in. You don’t rewind and mull it over, dissect it like it’s a frog, move words around, discard it, judge it and finally put it under your potted plant to catch drips. You just say it. And depending on the energy and intention with which you say the words, they either soar with vitality or land on the floor with a thud. They either fling open the window and flood the room with light or slam the door shut in darkness.
If you second-guess your writing—if you try to make it perfect rather than real—you’ll strip all the energy from it. It will be like talking in a monotone.
And if you second-guess your life? If you go for perfection rather than authenticity? If you worry about what others think? You will get stuck. You’ll be a slave to your fears. Your life will become a monotone.
Writing recklessly doesn’t mean writing without regard for others. It means writing with the highest regard for who you came here to be. Living recklessly means the same thing.
Be a lion or a pirate, Ueland says. Write—and live—from the voice that is real, imperfect and undeniably you.