3 Tips for Writing (& Life)

This is too ironic. I haven't written seriously for two months, yet here I am pretending to be Steve Jobs rolling out the next best thing.

Well, I can't grow a beard, and I don't own any turtlenecks, but these three dandies came bundled together in the shower this morning. And you're not going to deny the power of the early-morning shower revelation, are you? Either way, there's no smooth way for me to step back in to this writing thing other than to say I'm sorry, it'll probably happen next week too, and here are three tips for writing and life:

1) Showing up is the hardest work.

M0st of the time, I'm caught up in my head. I want to love as best as I can, string words that help you see beauty, pray the truest prayers, plan the best vacations. I mean well, but too often I miss the forest for the forest I'm planning on making.

In other words, the biggest thing is showing up: giving you the C+ love I've got, praying the self-absorbed prayers I know best, looking kids in the eyes on Wednesday night. Choosing to write 45 minutes a day instead of waiting for the time in life when I can carve out 3 hours a day.

It doesn't take much to dream oversized dreams. But showing up is the hardest work, doing what dreams require long after the feeling in which they were dreamt have faded.

2) Good seers make the best sayers.

Always the seer is a sayer, writes Ralph Waldo Emerson, and I'd add that we've got way too many sayers and not enough seers. It's much harder to be a seer: taking in all the details, choosing to keep close attention to people's words instead of succumbing to monkey mind, reading good books.

One more quote, this time from Mary Oliver: "Pay attention; be astonished; tell about it." The best sayers, writers, and livers (ha! too much fun) know that the best telling about it comes after you've paid attention and been struck with wonder.

3) Don't overstate it.

This is actually pretty similar to my first one. Lots of times when I'm sucking down coffee, staring out the window, and occasionally writing words, I get overwhelmed at how beautiful everything is, the people I know and the silly ways they laugh, the birds of the air and the lilies of the field and how they're all beloved. And then I try too hard telling you just how beautiful I think those things are.

Then I start whipping out my thesaurus and using six commas every sentence, which confuses both you and me and doesn't draw either of us any closer to the beautiful thing that life is.

Can't choose between words? Choose the smaller one.

Honestly, this one just applies to writing. I love when people over-exaggerate their stories. Except when it's my friend Tim telling about the one time he tackled me in the snow back in freshman year. Get over it, dude. You ain't no Von Miller.

Happy tuesday!


photo cred: you guys, I took that picture all by myself, but now it's outdated because i've sat on this post for two weeks