I recently read a very inspiring book called The Mindful Writer by Dinty W. Moore. Although the book is short, it’s an awesome book for anyone who writes or would like to start writing. It includes the most important things a writer should think about, from inspiration to a writer’s block. Don’t be fooled, it’s a book about writing but so many of its lessons can be seen as life advice as well. Here are my favourite takeaways from this book.
1. Inspiration is irrelevant, writers write. They sit and write, and if inspiration hits, great. If not, text still gets written.
I remember reading about inspiration being irrelevant years ago from another awesome book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. I remember being so amazed. What are you saying? I’ve based all my life on my ideas and inspiration. It’s what gives writing a huge push. Do you mean I need to write WITHOUT that awesome feeling? Where’s the fun in that?
Well it turns out, the fun part is also when you actually finish a project. It’s going to take a long time to get to the finish line if you only take action whenever you feel like it – even worse, you may never get there. It takes commitment and determination to show up when you’d rather do something else. Everything in life goes that way. It’s commitment that makes the biggest difference.
2. You don’t need to know the whole idea, just a little bit to take your next step. You need to write to know what you’re writing about. Let your text go where it wants to go.
Whenever I’ve thought about writing a book, I’ve always thought I need to know what I’m writing about, or at least need to have a clear vision, a map to guide me through it, or else I don’t know where I’m going and it’s going to be a mess. I mean, who on Earth tells other people, “yeah I’m writing a book but I’m not sure what it’s about yet!”. That sounds like a lunatic talking, yet what the heck, why not?
We never know how things will turn out in life either. We go to jobs and relationships hoping it’s going to work out, but don’t know how and where we’ll end up. It’s the trust that life will carry us. It only makes sense that this approach is the best one for writers too. We don’t need to know anything else but the first step. Then we only need to know the next step, or at least try something and take it from there. We need to go wherever life, or our text takes us, because surprising paths lead to the best destinations.
3. It never gets easy, you just do it because you love it. You need to get over self-doubt.
I especially loved when the author wrote about other authors’ experiences and how writing a book was tough for them, despite the fact that their books became popular. We are all guessing, hesitating, doubting and questioning ourselves sometimes. A writer’s life seems to include a lot of struggle with a delicate balance. On the other hand you need to edit your text and erase what is unnecessary and dull, but on the other hand you need to tell yourself that it’s worth doing. Perhaps the most important skill in life is indeed holding on to the belief that what you want to say does matter, is worth putting on paper and is worth sharing. The ones who keep working despite their self-criticism and doubts, even if it’s not the best they’ve done, are the ones who succeed and get stuff done.
4. You will have to write a lot of bad and mediocre stuff to produce quality. No one gets the whole thing right the first time. You write books by writing words.
It’s just a sad truth – we can’t nail everything we do and that is the case no matter how talented we are. However, learning is just as simple: we need to keep writing to get better at writing. Sometimes you need to start with a really bad sentence or even an awful page, to get to the point. Then you erase, and write some more, and erase, and write some more, and that’s how even the classics in this world were written. One word at a time, one step at a time, one thought at a time, and that’s the only thing you should focus on whatever you want to do: the moment you have and what you are working on right then and there. Eventually small efforts become something much bigger together.
5. It’s not as fancy as it sounds but it’s worth it
Writing is not easy, it’s not parties and publishers, it’s lonely mornings with your thoughts and lonely nights looking at a blank page on your screen. That is the road to all of our dreams, just us proving to ourselves that yes, it’s possible. Most of the work is not fancy, but it’s all about the feeling you get in small moments like those. It’s like a party in your head whenever you get something right, and then you know it’s all worth it.
I send my gratitude to the universe. Books like these change lives, mindsets and attitudes. It’s that authenticity that we all need. I liked this book so much that I even bought my own copy!
If you want to write, get over yourself and start writing – a book, a poem, or the story of your life. 🙂