I'm hoping the headline got your attention. It's advice from a not-so-famous author, Brenda Ueland, who (way back in 1938) wrote If You Want to Writ
I’m hoping the headline got your attention. It’s advice from a not-so-famous author, Brenda Ueland, who (way back in 1938) wrote If You Want to Write which shared her philosophies on writing, work (of any kind) and life.
And one of her messages was that if you want to write, paint, compose music, or do anything creative, you need to make that important work a priority.
But first let me share Ueland’s perspective, which is directed to women who “are always doing secondary and menial things (that do not require all their gifts and ability) for others and never anything for themselves.”
The problem, wrote Ueland, is that “if you are always doing something for others, like a servant or a nurse, and never anything for yourself, you cannot do others any good. For to teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yourself. And how to be something yourself? Only by working hard and with gumption at something you love and care for and think is important.”
Ueland suggests that “if you want your children to be musicians, then work at music yourself, seriously and with all your intelligence. If you want them to be scholars, study hard yourself.”
And she recommends that women “shut your door against the children for an hour a day and say, ‘Mother is working on her five-act tragedy in blank verse.'” If you do so, you might be surprised how your children will not only respect you, they will “probably all become playwrights.”
Even if you aren’t a woman or don’t have children (or don’t want them to become playwrights), Ueland’s advice is sound. Kleon gets even more specific about how you’ve got to make important work a priority and set yourself up for success. For example, he recommends these 5 steps:
- Establish a daily routine. “When you don’t have much time, a routine helps you make the little time you have count,” he writes. “When you have all the time in the world, a routine helps you make sure you don’t waste it. I’ve written while holding down a day job, written full-time from home, and written while caring for small children. The secret to writing under all those conditions was having a schedule and sticking to it.”
- Make lists. Writes Kleon, “whenever I need to figure out my life, I make a list. A list gets all ideas out of your head and clears the mental space so you’re actually able to do something about them.”
- Disconnect from the world to connect with yourself. “You must retreat from the world long enough to think, practice your art, and bring forth something worth sharing with others.”
- Create a bliss station . . . a place and a time where work happens. “The deluxe package would include both a special room and a special hour that you enter it,” Kleon writes. “But I think one can make up for a lack of the other. For example, say you have a tiny apartment you share with small children. There’s no room for your bliss station, there’s only time. When the kids are asleep or at school or day care, even a kitchen table can become a bliss station.”
- Say no. To protect your space and time so that you can do the work you need to do, “you have to learn to decline all sorts of invitations from the world. You must learn to say ‘no.'”
The best way to wrap this up? An inspirational quote from each:
“”Everyone is talented, original and has something important to say.”
― Brenda Ueland
“Every day is a potential seed that we can grow into something beautiful.” – Austin Kleon
So stop cleaning–and keep creating!
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