The Arrogance of Presumption

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“There is no excuse. If you want to write, write. This is your life, you are responsible for it. You will not live forever. Don’t wait. Make the time now.” ― Natalie Goldberg

On occasion, people stuck in a writing rut seek advice, which has become harder to dispense without sounding like a scribe’s bumper-sticker, especially since you can’t swing Schrödinger’s cat on the interwebz without hitting hundreds of inspirational tips and tidbits.

The simple, honest and truest bit of advice is to write. Write when you’re too tired to write. Write when writing hates your very existence. Write when words have moved out of your head in the wee hours of the night and left no forwarding address. Write when every word you put to paper is like pulling teeth. Write when your inner critic is telling you you’re a talentless shit. Write when the words refuse to make sense. Just write.

But no one wants to hear that because it isn’t a magical solution offered up by a Bagger Vance muse that makes all the tumblers in their befuddled minds line up and open the creative sluice gates.

Which leaves the long way around:

So, things aren’t going your way with your writing and you might be inclined to mope around the house and bask in self-pity for What Might Have Been, but there’s no reason to get down on yourself. Wipe your tears on your sleeves, buck up and realize today marks the start of a whole new ball game. All the old bets are off. You’re back at square one and it’s time to get a new bottom line. Take all your expectation and aspiration and lay them out like cards on a table. This is the first step towards putting the pedal to the metal. You’ve got to make no bones about what you truly wish to accomplish with your writing—–aside from the ludicrous notion of instant riches and fame—–and pull no punches with yourself on the hard work needed to make your dream a reality. And if I can toss in one more tired cliché, your ship doesn’t always come in… sometimes you have to swim out and meet it halfway.

As a writer it’s important to strike a balance between the creative and rational minds. The problem with the creative mind is that it’s equipped with the arrogance of presumption that it knows all there is to know and sometimes it becomes difficult to suspend tyranny long enough to receive messages from life, the universe, the inner muse, and—if you can stretch your fantasy muscles around the strange-but-true notion—your future self. Scoff all you like, but the part of you that exists on a higher plane of consciousness occasionally tries to contact you in order to provide panoramic views of the far horizon. The messages may be brief and strange, or they may appear in a matter-of-fact guise in the midst of your daily routine. Either way, if you turn a blind eye to the minute workings of the world all around you, you may be missing pithy pointers on how to shape your life’s mission to become a happy writer—–note that I didn’t say a successful writer, writing should first and foremost lead to happiness and fulfillment—–in the near and distant future.

A more metaphorical view on encountering obstacles in moving your writing forward is akin to walking in the deep dark forest and encountering a savvy old crone camouflaged as a wolf. Your fear, already swarming because of the unfamiliarity of your surroundings, kicks instantly into high gear, causing you to flee before you can see through the disguise. But now that you know the truth, go back and find the crone again. She has much to teach you about harvesting the treasure that comes from the deep recesses of the creative mind and taking aggressive measures to build up your confidence and mental wellness. Stop talking about and start manifesting the dream, and get as bawdy and funky as you dare.

Those last three paragraphs are a bit cringe-inducing, aren’t they? And they sound like a load of gibberishy nonsense. So, why not take the simple advice and…

Just write.

Sally forth and be writeful.

— Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

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2 responses to “The Arrogance of Presumption

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