Our most important writing tool is trust in our own unique vision, our own voice. Stop comparing. Look within. I wrote that in my journal after a friend, a poet, confided that she was experiencing a storm of self-doubt. As I reassured her I smiled to myself, remembering times she’s done the same for me.
Here are some inspiring quotes with a similar message (italics mine):
If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient. –Hilary Mantel The Guardian 22 Feb 2010
[When asked, what’s the best book you’ve ever received as a gift]: The Professional, by W. C. Heinz. It profiles a boxer before a match in the 1950s. I reread it before taping a stand-up special. Preparing to perform comedy in front of hundreds (or thousands) of people and telling jokes that may or may not make them laugh is just as terrifying as getting hit in the face while boxing. I boxed for a while a couple years back, and the fear of getting punched was a big hurdle I had to get over. But you know what helped? Getting punched. Just one time was enough to learn that the fear of pain is worse than the pain itself. That’s like stand-up. I learned to just get up there and own my jokes. Relax and take the punches. The crowd will forgive you for less-than-perfect jokes, but nobody likes to watch a fearful performer. –Amy Schumer NYT 8/11/16 By the Book
Wright Morris said that “Writes have an island, a center of refuge, within themselves. It is the mind’s anchorage, the soul’s Great Good Place.”
Paula Fox (Paris Review, The Art of Fiction No. 181) “I never felt any sort of egocentricity about my writing. I think I felt that it was a dispassionate gift that some force had given me. And I still think that. It’s as if something speaks through me, and then I have to sit up there every day for it to have a place to come and speak through me.” Also: “Everything you write is autobiographical, even science fiction, and the planet Ork. In some way even that is a reflection of you—who you are. You write about yourself as if you were a specimen, as if you were a specimen of a human being, and so you write about being human. The only one you really know, reasonably well, in some cases unreasonably well, is yourself.”
“…not only must we wake the sleeper in our self, we must help her enter and reenter the state of wonder.” Jonis Agee (The Daily Beast, “The True Secret of Staying Young,” 13 Aug 16)
Richard Wilbur: “Step off into the blank of your mind, something will come to you.”
Mostly importantly, enjoy your own wonderfully crazy imagination. Untether it. Later, you’ll edit.