The line between would-be writer and writer is clear. Have you written anything?
Okay, maybe the line isn’t quite that clear. Writing a plan is partial credit for the process of writing.
I have, for the majority of my writing career, been a pantser. Sit at the computer, start working on words and make it happen. Often, I had a character in my head, a vague plot notion, a scene of sci-fi, or something along that line. No specifics, but I would write.
From this I produced my Source Chronicles fantasy series, my Vapor Rogues Steampunk series, and the Void Incursion sci-fi series. At least 98% of the nonfiction blogs I write are also from the approach of the pantser.
I have friends who are planners. They will sit down and create a background, plot it all out, and create massive details — but until that’s done, they don’t write.
I have learned, however, that this IS writing. For the new Forgotten Fodder series, I planned everything out. I wrote up details for the background, then plotted each book chapter-by-chapter. It was just as much writing to do that as to actually write the books themselves.
This is why — to be a writer, you must write. That can take multiple forms — but if words never reach a page or screen, writing is not happening.
Do or do not
This is the essence of the meaning of my very favorite Yoda quote in the whole wide world.
“Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”
Writing involves the act of putting the words from inside your head to the world outside of it. It’s not just conceiving of the idea without acting on it. To be a writer — you must write.
That doesn’t mean you need to share it with anyone. For everything that I share with the world — novels, blogs, etc — there’s much I don’t.
Recently, I began to keep a journal again. I say again because I have journals going back to 1992. I strive, daily, to write some personal notes to and for myself.
What this all comes down to is action. You either act — or don’t. Thinking about it is not the same as doing it. This is what Yoda was conveying to Luke when he told him to “do or do not.” Try lacks action in many respects. Try can be half-assed, considered, pondered, but not necessarily acted upon.
Do leaves no hesitation. You do or do not. Act. And action, as an aspect of mindfulness, is necessary to consciously create reality and to choose to do pretty much anything at all.
For a long time, I was half-writing. Sure, I’ve now published several novels, but there was a wide gap between my works.
I decided that it was time to do more. Hence, in 2020, I published 3 novels. In 2021. I am publishing 6 novels.
Five of six are written. The sixth will be done in a week or so. I am, thusly, doing.
And since you are reading these words — they are further evidence of a writer writing.
A writer writes, an artist arts, businesspeople do business, and so on
This concept applies to everything anyone can do in life.
To be a painter, you need to paint something. Desire to be a businessperson? You need to have a business. To be a singer you need to sing.
Yeah, maybe that’s obvious. But it’s not. Lots of people dream of the idea, the thing they wish to try. But then they never do it.
I have been working on reciting, several times a day, certain affirmations. The one I have memorized and use the most is this:
The fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. I gain more than I lose when I act upon my dreams. Fear is the mind-killer, and I am not afraid. Do or do not. Remember that there is no spoon.
Yes, I am stealing and butchering several well-known (mostly sci-fi) quotes. But affirmations are meant to keep you mindful of yourself, who, what, where, why, where, and when you are. The idea is that they resonate with you and help keep you on whatever path you’re traversing.
Why am I sharing this? Because as part of my process in being a writer who writes, I like to give myself assurance that I am following my heart. Not blindly, not without consideration — but I am striving to be in charge of my life how I desire for it to be.
Identifying as a thing — writer, chef, painter, actor, and so on — is very different from acting on the thing that you claim to do.
For every person who claims to be any given thing — there are probably at least half a dozen who claim the thing but don’t do the thing. Walk the walk, talk the talk.
If you claim to be an artist but don’t DO the art — what does that serve you? That’s the question, and I think I know the answer.
It’s not about you
Many, many people do things for the sake of others. Sometimes this is logical and reasonable — parents raising their children, teachers teaching, leaders leading, and the like. People who selflessly act for the good of others — and that act is part of their reward and life path.
But lots of people feel the need to show off. They need to be somebody, to be recognized. Recognition can be both great and terrible. Great, because who doesn’t appreciate being recognized and thanked for something you do? Terrible, because you get the likes of Donald Trump DEMANDING to be told they’re great for nothing but the sake of their ego.
We have, as a society, a need to have an identity. And that’s separate from the individual need for identity.
This is best explained by two simple phrases. I AM versus YOU ARE.
I AM is about me. Hence, I know (for the most part) who, what, how, why, and where I am. This I know for the sake of my self-identity.
YOU ARE — in this context — is about how you see me. You are amazing can be as powerful as you are an asshole. Both can be equally true — from a certain point of view — of everyone.
I have ZERO control over the impression I make on you. What and who you think I am matters a little to me. But it’s not everything.
For some people, however, that IS their everything. How people see them, the impression they make is of more importance than how they see themselves. This is why I write about practicing mindfulness and being consciously aware.
When I say that I am a writer — I write. That’s all there is to it. You can disbelieve me if you so choose. The increasing number of blog posts and books I put out is all the proof necessary.
Be who and what you are — writer, artist, scholar, etc
Whatever it is you claim to do — know why you make that claim. If you claim to be a writer/artist/singer/actor/whatever — DO that thing you claim.
The single most important reason to do, rather than just claiming to do — is because you must be true to yourself. Be genuine. To be most satisfied by your life, that’s important. Claiming to be something you are — not for the sake of the impression you make on others — is disingenuous to everyone, yourself included.
Being true and genuine to yourself is the best way to grow, evolve, and have control over your life experience. That applies to your art, too.
I have no doubt I could research the most popular style of fiction of this time. Then, I could use my new-found enjoyment of plotting to plot something and write it for commercial success. But that’s not who I am, and not what I desire to write. So, I keep working on sci-fi and fantasy — alongside mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, and other life lesson/inspiration/self-improvement notions.
As friends of mine tend to say — you do you, boo. Be genuine. Be what you claim by doing what you claim to do. And don’t worry so much about what anyone but you think of you.
You can’t just be the thing without doing the thing. If that’s what and who you are, go for it with passion, drive, and gusto.
Originally published at https://www.mjblehart.com on April 3, 2021.