Gems of guidance are everywhere! On a Saturday morning ramble around town, I came across a billboard by a retail store called, “The Village” emblazoned with these colorfully chalked words of wisdom:
Be kind to yourself
Try new tactics
Ask for help
It struck me instantly that this innocent little formula can be fruitfully applied to our writing, as well as to anything else:
Be kind to yourself: Writing isn’t easy and making progress in our craft calls for patience and compassion. We’re wise when we offer kindness not only to ourselves but also to our characters if we’re writing fiction and to the wayward words we are laboring to put in the right marching order. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau said so well: “What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?” Let’s show ourselves and our work some love!
Embrace imperfection: Courting perfection stifles and contracts us. Releasing, relaxing, and letting it go frees us. Progress flows from trial and error, from making mistakes, learning from them, and pushing forward calmly and purposefully. When we are at peace with imperfection, we signal to ourselves and to the universe that we are open to change and new ideas. Instead of going on a mad chase to find perfection, let’s be content with a little stardust from angels’ wings – with a generous dose of something fresh and wonderful. As Raymond Chandler did, let’s sprinkle a little magic in each paragraph (see Blue-clock Socks)
Try new tactics: Shaking things up loosens the cobwebs in our brain and make us more alert and receptive to offbeat approaches and inventive ideas. So try switching your writing from day to night or persuade a friend to read a tricky dialogue sectin aloud with you so you can really hear it, or start a chapter in the middle instead of the beginning and see if it works better.
Ask for help: There are so many resources we can turn to for writing support: helpful handbooks, mentors, critique groups, beta readers. We may create alone, but we don’t have to continue on alone – there are many pilgrims on the writing path.
Be kind, embrace perfection, try new tactics, ask for help – a great writing formula for a great writing day! Let’s try it as we all write on!