Reading Notes #12

Writing advice or more like life advice, amirite?

“When you get tired of yourself, then you change. See, even if you’re stuck in life, if you can describe just exactly the way you’re stuck, then you will immediately recognize that you can’t go on that way anymore. So, just saying precisely, writing precisely how you’re stuck, or how you’re alienated, opens up a door of freedom for you.”

—Mark Levy, Accidental Genius

Writing advice or maybe life advice

“…most of us try to write too carefully. We try to do it “right.” We try to sound smart. We try, period. Writing goes much better when we don’t work at it so much. When we give ourselves permission to just hang out on the page. For me, writing is like a good pair of pajamas—comfortable.”

—Julia Cameron, The Right to Write

This is true for all the things we do that we feel a little unsure about. All creative work, which (really) is all work. All the scary things, whatever we’re still learning, the stuff we do for fun but secretly take seriously, the expanding/opening things. They could be jumping-off-a-cliff things and sitting-quietly-in-bed things.

“The first trick, the one I am practicing now, is to just start where you are. It’s a luxury to be in the mood to write. It’s a blessing but it’s not a necessity. Writing is like breathing, it’s possible to learn to do it well, but the point is to do it no matter what.”

—Julia Cameron, The Right to Write

The more we relax, the less we try to do it right, the more we just do it: the better it is. The more fun we have. Let’s give ourselves permission to “just hang out” with whatever is going on, in the moment. Whatever we’re doing or not doing, maybe we can just hang out with it, comfortable, okay with the newness or awkwardness or imperfection or mistakes.

The point is to do it no matter what. Whatever “it” is: life, relationships, honesty, adventure, writing, learning, growing, trying, waking up, being kind to yourself, having that conversation, setting boundaries, going with the flow, saying what you want, practicing, resting, accepting.

It’s possible to learn to do it well, but the point is to do it no matter what.

“Your best thought comes embedded in chunks of your worst thought. What’s the only way to reliably mine your best thought? Write a lot. Think “quantity.” Think “word production.” Think of yourself as a word and thought factory.”

—Mark Levy, Accidental Genius

And when you do it no matter what (whatever “it” is), of course you’re going to be a total screwball at it sometimes. Maybe, for a while, most of the time you’ll be a total screwball at it.

So your best bits will come embedded in your worst bits.

Your best moments will be surrounded by your worst moments.

Your best self is embedded in your worst self.

Your heroism is inside of your cowardice. Your nobility is enrobed by your lazy-ass mediocrity. Your calm is inside of your chaos.

You just gotta keep going at it—do it no matter what—to get to that delicious caramel center.

“If you truly want a result, don’t worship the conventional route that most people follow. That route was probably invented through trial and error, and if different trials and errors had been attempted, you’d have a different route to take today.”

—Mark Levy, Accidental Genius

If things aren’t working, you’re not doing anything wrong. You’re doing it (whatever it is) no matter what. And that’s just right.

Deez books:

  1. The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. Cameron is known for her book The Artist’s Way (which I highly recommend). This book—The Right to Write—is kind of a follow-up of The Artist’s Way. Great for anyone who wants to unblock creativity, get in touch with self, write more, flow more.

  2. Accidental Genius by Mark Levy is an easy ready about the benefits and how-to of what Levy calls freewriting. The how-to is simple. The benefits can be amazing.