Remember to Reward Yourself

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When it’s July 4, and you woke up late, but you have a really, really good writing day. A mid-afternoon reward.

A Writerly Life: Robin McKinley

“One of the biggest, and possibly the biggest, obstacle to becoming a writer… is learning to live with the fact that the wonderful story in your head is infinitely better, truer, more moving, more fascinating, more perceptive, than anything you’re going to manage to get down on paper. (And if you ever think otherwise, then you’ve turned into an arrogant self-satisfied prat, and should look for another job or another avocation or another weekend activity.) So you have to learn to live with the fact that you’re never going to write well enough. Of course that’s what keeps you trying — trying as hard as you can — which is a good thing.”

—Robin McKinley (author of fantasy and children’s books; winner of the Newbery Medal)

Writing Tip #4

20 things that a woman writer needs to stop wearing:
1-20: The weight of other people’s expectations and judgments.

Have you ever been held back, by yourself, from writing because of the expectations and judgments of others?

That’s a trick question, because, if you’re a woman, the answer is, “Of course.” It’s so easy to get so wrapped up in trying to be enough for everyone else that you begin to forget about what you need. (Notice I said need, not want.)

Wearing the weight of other people’s expectations and judgments can vary from not seeming like a big deal to feeling immense amounts of pressure to have ________, to do ________.

Start walking down your writing path today – tiptoe if you need to. Chances are it won’t fit perfectly right now and might be a longer journey to get to where you want to go than you would like, but ultimately, if you are doing what you love, you’ll be happier than you are right now.

Have a Passion. Decide to Act. Make Art.

Today, I’m reminded to take solace in the act of creating. A while ago, in one of my PhD classes, the artist Gendron Jensen*, who has spent a lifetime transforming relics from nature – usually bones – into art objects of uncommon beauty, talked with us about art and creating.

Three things he told us resonated profoundly, and I want to share them with you:

1. The very act of creating changes the projection of world history, whether your art is every made public or not. (His point was that making art changes us, which changes our personal behavior and actions, which changes history.)

2. Art needs to be released.

3. Create. Then let in the other.

*Jensen’s drawings are in the collections of such museums as Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He works almost exclusively in graphite on sheets of paper as tall as seven feet, making meticulous renderings of the intricate infrastructures of wildlife.

A Writerly Life: Elif Shafak

“Male writers are thought of as ‘writers’ first and then ‘men’. As for female writers, they are first ‘female’ and only then ‘writers’.” ― Elif Shafak