Every Friday when I send this letter out I am SO incredibly grateful for your feedback and the fact that many of you take the time to share pieces of your life with me. Your emails remind me that I'm on the right track and that I'm not the only one thinking the way that I do. You remind me that I'm not alone. But my reasoning for sending writing these letters is actually quite selfish. The truth is, I do this for me.
I'm doing this because for years I thought that being a writer meant that my name needed to appear on the NYT bestseller list. Or that I needed to have a byline in a major publication. Or that people should know my literary name--and my work--without my having to explain any details.
But these things do not a writer make.
You know what makes a writer?
Sitting down every day and committing to give breath to ideas by writing them down.
Even if it's just in my journal, or in a friend's birthday card, I know that I am a writer. I care deeply about the process of articulating my thoughts & find great JOY in the act putting them down on paper. These things alone make me a writer.
And I'm a writer because I said so--not anyone else.
But sometimes the best that I can manage to bang out is just a paragraph. Or all I have is the beginning of an idea that even I don't yet fully understand. Sometimes it's 6pm on Thursday and I have NO idea what I'm going to write for Friday at 6am.
And you know what??
I'm learning that's okay.
Every week may not be a home run. Every letter may not hold some deep & profound truth or conversely, it may hold an idea that goes completely over everyone's head. But I'm realizing that NONE of that matters.
What matters is the act of just showing up for the work.
Judging how good it is--or how it should be changed/edited/condensed--is actually Step 4 or 5. But Step 1 is all about actually getting the work done. Giving life to the ideas. Creating sentences from the thoughts.
I thought about this last night at 10pm after I spent the majority of the day in bed with a rough upset stomach. A big part of me wanted to just push this letter off until next week but then I heard a voice that reminded me:
You need to write something.
Because these emails are first & foremost about the discipline of doing the work I say I want to do. Everything else--how good, how long, how eloquent--is secondary.
And just like that--at 10pm last night--I got the inspiration for this letter. What normally takes hours & hours took less than 90 minutes, because it just came pouring out.
The only thing that I have to do, every day, is find a way to honor my calling. Sometimes that's as small as a private journal entry, a thank you card for a kind gesture or public social media post but IT ALL COUNTS.
Every single bit of it.
I am a writer, so my job is to write and consistently show up to create this letter. No judging of the work is allowed in the early stages. Because when you do work that you love there is no "there"...you just keep working as long as there's something inside of you that wants to be born.
And the only way you can birth it is to show up.
Grab the pen. Pick up the paintbrush. Make the beat. Write the song. Create the code.
Today I've shown up to be a writer.
Who/What are you showing up to be???