I started writing my first manifesto last week. It will be finished and available for download by the end of the month. It’s the most ambitious writing project I’ve ever undertaken. I’m determined to make it as good as it can be, so it can spread far and wide and help lots of people. Achieving many of my other goals over the next few months depend on this manifesto being well received.
And so, with those self-imposed expectations on my shoulders, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when I sit down to write every morning. I’m not always sure what section I should be working on, or what should go where. Sometimes the words flow out of me, but often it’s a struggle to write even a paragraph. I second-guess my ability to produce something worthy of your time. I do constant battle with my inner critic. I catch myself taking too long to find just the right word in the thesaurus.
But despite all that, I’m progressing. I fire up my laptop every morning and pump out at least 1,000 words, and then I’m done.
I’ve learned from the likes of Liz Gilbert and Steven Pressfield that we can’t always sit down and write something amazing, but we can always sit down and write. Creativity isn’t something we create; it’s something that flows through us. Sometimes it’s there, and sometimes it’s not. If you’re an artist — and you are, whether you know it or not — your job is simply to show up every day. You do your part, you put in the time and the effort, and if that strange, delicious genius decides to flow through you while you work, great. But that can only happen if you’re there every day.
Quoting from Pressfield’s The War of Art:
Someone once asked the great author Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when inspiration struck him. “I write only when inspiration strikes me,” Maugham replied. “Fortunately it strikes me every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
What are you working on?
What’s your big project? Are you showing up for work every day, putting forth the effort, giving genius the chance to shine through you?