I recently was reminded of Eric Maisel’s book, LIVING THE WRITER’S LIFE. I pulled it off my shelf, opened it to see the many highlighted passages. I was surprised. I had read the book so thoroughly as to make that many highlights, and yet each one seemed like reading the thought for the first time.
Thoughts that came as I read Maisel’s wisdom sparked more thoughts and had me pulling book after book from my shelves and nooks and crannies, until now my desk and the floor are scattered. As I’ve opened the books and read marked passages, it occurred to me that the wisdom found here is all about supporting my life as a writer. I think I shall re-read a number of these in the coming year, to remind myself. I extract a few of the encouraging ideas below:
Eric Maisel wrote in LIVING THE WRITER’S LIFE, “…as a rule what motivates a person to write is her desire, bordering on compulsion, to make sense of reality in a personal, idiosyncratic way.”
I find out so much about myself when I write, in both my private journal and my fiction. My fiction as a whole gives evidence of the firm and high place of family in my life, and of my Southern and humorous view of humanity. I am amazed at what I know by my writing. For this reason I have come to believe that my writing is a noble act. It is my way of shining in the world.
With this I am brought to Dorothea Brande’s idea of a debt of honor. She wrote in BECOMING A WRITER: “…you have decided to write at four o’clock, and at four o’clock write you must! No excuses given. Your agreement (with yourself) is a debt of honor, and must be scrupulously discharged. If you must climb out over the heads of your friends at that hour, then be ruthless…”
When I was a contracted novelist, I had little trouble sticking to a writing schedule. (I should also point out that at that time, I did not have grandchildren calling, “Nana!”) I was earning, so it was easier to say, “I can’t come; I’m working.” When I am no longer under contract with a looming deadline, it is so easy to say, “Oh, I’ll write tomorrow.” Only tomorrow and tomorrow keeps zooming by. In the past weeks I have been working to finish (total re-write) a new novel, and I became willing, even desperate, to help myself do what I wanted to do. I rearranged appointments, went to bed earlier and got up earlier, setting myself a schedule to keep the rear in the chair.
I was spurred on to develop a habit of morning hours for myself by the book, PRAY, WRITE, GROW, by Ed Cyzewski. He mentions the necessity and power of creating a habit for both prayer and writing, in order to grow your life and your writing. A powerful question from the book is: “Is this helping me write?”
Writers and teachers Jack Bickham and William Zinsser and Ray Bradbury all put forth the principle: trust in the process.
I have proven this truth again and again with experience. As I make all manner of plans and hopes and dreams for the coming year, let me remember to trust in God’s leading to amazing places.