I’m sure you’ve heard the often quoted proverb by Lao-Tzu: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” But what you may not have heard so often is the translation that results from the original Chinese quote:
“The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.”
Before the first step is the desire to move. All of that ‘would, could, should, if, want to, maybe,” ( insert a favorite stopper phrase) doesn’t do squat but leave our feet planted into the ground. Sure we make a little dust while we shuffle our feet to the litany of ‘if’s’ but when we look at our position, we’re are still in the same place. Sometimes we must find the desire to move and shake off the constant buzz of our family/work life.
The quote is analogous to writing. Oh, yes, how we want to write a novel, get an agent, get published, see our story enjoyed by
thousands millions. But none of it will happen if we do the ‘woulda, coulda’ mambo instead of making ourselves sit in front of the blank page/screen and write. And do the same thing the next day, and the next, until we are finished with a first draft. And then guess what? We do it all again during rewriting/revision.
“It is perfectly okay to write garbage-as long as you edit brilliantly.”~Molnair.
Writing is not for the faint of heart or for those who don’t want to fail. Writing until we get into print is for those who show up, fail, keep learning, rewrite, and move forward. I feel a ‘Hoo-Rah,” coming on.
But some days our cheering section of zero or one isn’t enough. There are times when we need some external encouragement, someone who has been there, to commiserate with us for one minute and then shove our behinds into the chair again.
The problem is that we often don’t know when we’ll have one of those “I can’t do it anymore,” writing days. Something that works for me is preparation. I’ve assembled a personal medicine cabinet of writers and blogs filled with encouragement to face the stagnation and move forward.
Some of my favorites are:
When facing anxiety go to Writer’s First Aid for several posts on whatever ails you.
Some invigorating advice about persistently writing comes from JA Konrath’s post “Writing Matters,” and Holly Lisle’s blog on “Live to Write Another Day.”
Someone who often says that writing is a lonely business and has built a community of writers is Kristen Lamb: We Are Not Alone. She introduced me to Twitter and the WANA concept.
For optimism and insight there are few more encouraging blogs than Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner’s encouragement section.
And to remind oneself of why we write is the ever inspirational Jeff Goins.
Last but not least, just different, is visiting my Pinterest boards. I don’t have to read, just gaze at the photos until I feel my fingers jumpstart.
There are more blogs I could mention, but you get the idea.
What do you have in your own writer’s medicine cabinet? I’m looking for a humor pill (blog) to fill another spot. Suggestions are welcomed.
2 thoughts on “Open Your Medicine Cabinet to Write”
Excellent post today. I appreciate you sharing the alternative Lao Tzu translation.
You've included some great resources here. Poets&Writers Magazine is always brimming with motivation for me. Robert Lee Brewer's personal and Poetic Asides blogs are also comfortable reading and learning places.
I do love to read poems and find they stir up inspiration, but I hadn't thought of P & W before. Thanks!