Remove These Phrases From Your Writing Life

I’m on an inspirational kick this week.

I recently connected on LinkedIn with my very first boss at F+W.

I always remember the advice he repeated to me that went something like: “Imagine you’re 80, looking back on the fulfilling, beautiful life you’ve led. Now go do that.”

I come across too many people who append a condition to their writing or creative life. Do you say these things?

  • I’ll write when … (waiting for perfect conditions)
  • I’ll write if … (waiting for some thing or someone else to act/decide/validate)

Or maybe something like:

  • I’ll never be as good as … (denying the fact each person is unique and has something to offer — and ignoring the hard work of self-knowledge and writing practice to help identify what makes you unique as a writer)
  • I don’t have the patience … (for those who know the time it takes and the difficulties involved—but this forgets the preciousness of the journey and only considers the goal)

And most evil of all:

  • When I have enough time (we’re all given the same amount of time in a day, but also we don’t know how much time we’re given overall)

Lately, I’ve come across two quotes from famous folks, echoing my former boss’s sentiment. Nothing earth-shattering, but still …

Here’s what Steve Jobs said when he addressed Stanford’s graduating class a few years ago:

… for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

And Seth Godin wrote (around the same timeframe):

The thing is, we still live in a world that’s filled with opportunity. In fact, we have more than an opportunity — we have an obligation. An obligation to spend our time doing great things. To find ideas that matter and to share them. To push ourselves and the people around us to demonstrate gratitude, insight, and inspiration. To take risks and to make the world better by being amazing. … You get to make a choice. You can remake that choice every day, in fact. It’s never too late to choose optimism, to choose action, to choose excellence. The best thing is that it only takes a moment — just one second — to decide.

Photo credit: Let Ideas Compete

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0 thoughts on “Remove These Phrases From Your Writing Life

  1. Jodi Cleghorn

    I’ve been hurtling into a dark abyss the last few days and the words from Seth Godin were just what I needed to hear:

    "It’s never too late to choose optimism, to choose action, to choose excellence. The best thing is that it only takes a moment — just one second — to decide."

    Well I’m choosing optimism – starting with putting my sneakers on and taking myself for a long reviving walk out in the late afternoon sunshine with my son’s hand firmly grasped in mine. Then I’m going to make us a delicious meal and once my son’s asleep going to attack the editing I’ve been too spaced out to attempt.

    Thank you Jane!

  2. Tina Haapala

    This is so true, I wasted so much time making the same kind of excuses that I feel like I’m an excuse expert (hence the Excuse Editor blog). Like Joel said, we all need reminders now and then of what we really know, deep down.

    I liked the Jobs quote; if we think of every day as "our last" we shouldn’t feel guilty at all for spending an extra half hour on our passion rather than spending it with the vaccuum now and then!

  3. Alexis Grant

    Thanks for this post — Love it!

    If ever I stray from this philosophy, or I see a friend straying, I remind myself: This is my life. I can do whatever I want with it!

    And it feels SO good when I’m living a dream.


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