Writing motivation from Ira Glass

“Do it now,” says Ira. 

Don’t wait until you have the right support or even the right idea. “Just start making it now.”

Shoot the arrows now, Olav Hauge might say.*

But one of the reasons I find a lot of would-be authors don’t just do it now is that it’s really, really hard. What exactly is it that’s so hard?

Is it the writing itself? Finding the time? Maybe.

Here’s what’s hard for me: if I start, I have to make choices. Choice after choice after choice. As long as I don’t write my book, my potential is limitless. The thing I’m creating is nothing, so that means it could be anything!

From the moment I make my first choice, I whittle down that endless potential.

And it’s not just that the potential narrows from limitless to limited. (That should actually feel good, right? It’s taking shape.)

But the problem is that if the choices are the arrows in Hauge’s poem, you shoot one after the other, and they each miss the bull’s eye.

And ain’t that a bitch?

Yes, and it is also a feature of creativity, not a bug. Those arrows, as the poem points out, also are at the center of something. The center of what? I don’t know.

But might it not be nice to feel the sun on your back and the grass under your feet and hear the sounds of distant traffic and birds singing as you trot out to pick up all the arrows and walk back to try again?

The aiming, the trotting, the trying again. Those are the moments that make each of us—not a failure, not a fraud, nor an impostor—but a creative.

– Maggie

PS: If you need help settling in and making that first choice, there is always my book, Be About Something, to guide you.


This is a poem I shared a few weeks ago that I am sharing again because I’m still thinking about it. Here it is if you didn’t read my last post (or even if you did).

Years of Experience with Bows and Arrows

by Olav H. Hauge, translated by Robert Hedin and Robert Bly

What you are supposed to hit

is the bull’s eye, that black spot,

that precise spot, and the arrow

is supposed to stand there quivering!

But that’s not where the arrow goes.

You get closer to it, close and closer;

no, not close enough.

Then you have to go out and pick up all the arrows,

walk back, try it again.

That black spot is highly annoying

until you finally grasp

that where your arrow stands quivering

is also the center of something.

from The Dream We Carry, Copper Canyon Press, 2018. Shared with me by Holly Wren Spaulding.

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