“Creativity is a lamp, not a candle. Something wants to write through us as badly as we want to write. Discovering this is a matter of time and patience.”
“Accept your writing as permanent, a person you are in love with who has good days and bad days, cranky days and euphoric ones. Let your writing be itself and it will surprise you.”
“Doing it all the time, whether or not we are in the mood, gives us ownership of our writing ability. It takes it out of the realm of conjuring where we stand on the rock of isolation, begging the winds for inspiration, and makes it as do-able as picking up a hammer and pounding a nail.”
Julia is a gem! Her handbook, The Right to Write, is one I turn to again and again whenever I need a dose of inspiration. Picking it up tonight, I came across the comments noted above in her chapter, “Mood.” What I love about Julia is both her sinewy, lyrical writing about writing and her practical passion for the writing life.
Julia knows all about the blocks that can keep us from getting out of our own way. One of the biggest is that old standby: “I’m not in the mood.” Not in the mood? Well get to work anyway! That’s Julia’s advice. As she says so beautifully, “Moods shadow the writing landscape like passing clouds.” Exactly.
As my friend and mentor Rob Gilbert says, “Movement change moods, action changes attitude, motion changes emotion.” When we don’t feel like writing, we need to simply pick up our pens or fire up our computers and write anyway. We need to literally write our way into the mood to write. When we fight to write, our writing rewards us.
What’s the alternative? If we let our moods control our writing life, then that life will never really take root. We’ll always be at the mercy of those moods that pass over us like clouds. We’ll lose the chance to do the kind of sustained, butt-in-the-chair crafting that leads to true mastery. So let’s think of ourselves as mountains and let the clouds flit over us as we stand tall and strong, fiercely grounded in our commitment to ourselves and our belief in our work. Write on!