Today you will write 1000 words. Because now you are hopefully writing from a loose, unrestrained, joyous place. All the words already exist—do you see that? And you’re finding a way to access them. You just have to sit down and write them. They’re already there—they were always there—and they’re just waiting for you to show up and get to work and release them. This is all about what happens when your mind wants to be free. This is a gesture toward freedom.
When I think about a lot of times I’ve felt trapped in my life, it usually has something to do with being unable to communicate or tap into my words. Sometimes it was about being emotionally trapped, when all my feelings were tamped down or shoved awkwardly into a box, made so inaccessible as to be slowing me down or hindering me in my life. And sometimes it had to do with being stuck financially, when I needed desperately to finish something, sell something, in order to pay my bills, alter my career path in some way, or just achieve basic survival. The solution, most times, was to sit down with a pen and paper and write my way to freedom.
What are you writing your way toward today?
Today’s guest contributor is the great, thoughtful, wise, and witty Elizabeth McCracken, author of seven books, including The Giant’s House. Her most recent publication is The Souvenir Museum. Elizabeth has chosen Caritas of Austin as the recipient of today’s donation, and today she’s sharing some of her own rules for productivity and time-traveling.
“The older I get the less I know—which is common enough, but also the less I know about myself as a writer. I used to believe I had to be tricked into being productive, because naturally I’m a lazy person. Probably that’s still true and I’m now easier to trick and also increasingly naïve about my own naïveté. One foolproof rule is to hitch your wagon to the hardest working writers you know, people you love who are highly productive. I’ve always worked harder so as not to resent my beloved workhorses.
Another rule: I believe in assignments (like the 1000 words of summer) and above all I believe in harnessing the power of my own self-loathing. That is to say: I give myself a deadline and a goal that might seem impossible. Then I mentally travel forward in time to the deadline, and I take on board—I really try to feel it—how incapacitated I will be if I haven’t written by then. I bring the feeling into my toes. (As I write this, I realize it’s probably the opposite of a mindfulness technique, though I should be clear I know nothing about mindfulness.) Then I travel back into time to the present moment and realize, with joy and anxiety, that it’s not too late. I can do it. And I always do.”
It’s not too late! It’s never too late.
Good luck today. Day 11, I know. I know. But I believe in you, and I’m so proud of all of you. Let’s go.