If we wish to be resourceful and creative in life, we must seek out encouragement and advice that nourishes and replenishes us. Especially in times of creative abandon.
With NaNoWriMo around the corner, advice is flying from every side, blowing like wind from a canyon. It is difficult to know which way to turn – to outline or no, to wait or begin, to sign up or to hesitate.
Few things discourage me like a walk through the writing section of the bookstore. It feels like I’m looking into a void of advice not made for me; encouragement doesn’t fit, advice to let things flow, wait for inspiration, ten steps to a winning pitch, to outline everything, chafes me like a pair of wet jeans.
I had to find the advice that worked for me.
My issue is that I have a different natural mindset, a different rhythm than a lot of other writers (or at least the ones who feel compelled to write books on writing). I am a martial artist, a Taoist, a Buddhist. I grew up in an environment of personal responsibility, and I live seeking to know the mind deeply, earnestly, through meditation and discipline. I don’t know how to wait for The Muse – I prefer to be my own muse. I don’t know how to let a goal slip away; I conquer that which I set out to do, or I leave the fight as one not worth the doing.
I prefer to live in a rhythm with my creativity – a constant give and take of inspiration and demand, meeting what comes with acceptance and curiosity.
When I need writing inspiration, I more often turn to the advice of martial arts masters than I do to writers; I understand the pen best when I imagine it a sword.
Had I not found Writing Down the Bones early on, I might never have made it here, to this life, these words. Natalie Goldberg’s take on writing as meditative discipline, speaking of the importance of practice and knowing te mind speaks to me more than any other guidance I have yet found.
I explain these things because we live in a world where talk is plentiful, and when we are lost, it is easy to feel buffeted by the winds of advice and opinion. We all work to the unique mechanics of our creative hearts, and it is in the blood of this uniqueness that our art most beautifully blossoms.
As you create, seek to find your natural mind, the set point from which you operate.
Follow only the advice that makes this natural mind hum with inspiration.
Seek those who have gone before you in the natural rhythm that matches best with your creative beast, and follow them. Listen to their advice, and if it nourishes you, feeds your art, excites you down through your soles and to the roots of your hair, you have found a treasure.
Start with writing advice, sure, or art or music or business. Start wherever you feel that red strand of passion pulling you along. Begin where you feel yourself ripple with inspiration, whatever it is, and let those ripples inform your art.
At first, it is a struggle, a rough path of obstacles and tree roots and many voices calling out with (often contradictory) directions.
Try on the advice of others, casting off that which does not fit, does not excite or challenge. Learn the mechanics of your artist heart by feeling it strain against rules not made for you. Then move on, aware that you know better what is natural for you. And the closer we come to our path, the more
We aren’t made for all advice – none of us are. We are made to write, or sing, or make paintings, and others have come before us, paving the way to where we want to go – these are the many paths, and we will forge our own, borrowing the cleared roads ahead on our way.
Take only what is meant for you – leave what is not behind for other travelers seeking their own way, and keep notes for when you, too, can give directions.
*If you want to show you appreciation for my work here and elsewhere, please consider donating a small token to the Office of Letters and Light under my fundraising page to help me get into The Night of Writing Dangerously. When you donate any amount – even just $1.00, I will send you a password for my Sponsor Content page for the year – get exclusives to excerpts from my novel, secret writing stashes, and other goodies. Keep writing! -Michelle