March 17, 2020
Note From Rochelle
Life is changing quickly. It’s scary. And despite the advice to use this time at home to read, write, and rest–it’s hard to focus. Instead, we may find ourselves worrying about ourselves, our families, our community, and the world. That’s normal.
As I have been reflecting on how to cope in this difficult time, I revisited a practice that helps me deal with daily life: gratitude journaling. I posted an article at Medium on the practice.
Last week, before the whole world changed, I wrote about what it takes to be a successful writer. For the post, I gathered words from some of my favorite authors.
The Habits of Highly Successful Writers
By Rochelle Melander
It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and many of us are celebrating by wearing green. (Although St. Patrick’s color was actually blue. The feast day became associated with green in the 18th century, when it was linked to Irish independence.)
When Patrick was a teenager in Britain, he was captured by Irish Pirates and brought to Ireland to work. As a slave, he tended sheep. He survived by praying, even though he hadn’t been raised in a religious family. After he escaped, he studied to become a priest. He returned to Ireland as a missionary and later became a bishop. He’s known for incorporating pagan symbols and ideas into his ministry. He wrote two documents: the autobiographical Confessio and Letter to Coroticus.
So how did St. Patrick’s Day become synonymous with luck? Some believe St. Patrick used the three-leaf clover to teach about the Trinity. And when a clover grows a fourth leaf, it’s considered lucky. Another legend boasts that St. Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland. But he does not tell this story in his autobiography. Instead, he tells why he must write his life’s story:
Although I am imperfect in many ways, I want my brothers and relations to know what I’m really like, so that they can see what it is that inspires my life. … This is why I have long thought to write.
To celebrate St. Patrick’s day, I’ve gathered a collection of quotes about luck and the habits of successful writers.
Luck? I don’t know anything about luck. I’ve never banked on it and I’m afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else: hard work – and realizing what opportunity is and what it isn’t.
I had formed the habit of working in my studio almost every single day. Rain or shine, eager or dragging my feet, I just plain forced myself to work.
Take small steps
When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all I can permit myself to contemplate.
Depend on habits instead of inspiration
First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.
You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.
To write requires an ego, a belief that what you say matters. Writing also requires an aching curiosity leading you to discover, uncover, what is gnawing at your bones.
―Terry Tempest Williams
Without this playing with fantasy, no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable.
―Carl Gustav Jung
Write to cope
Writers are lucky. Whatever the mood, no matter the longing, the writer can use his words to connect himself to any world he wishes to visit.
The truth about successful writers
I’ve been writing and editing professionally for a long time. I work as a writing coach and teacher, helping other writers do their best work. Even so, I still have days when I struggle to master my mindset, overcome writer’s block and create. In those moments, these words help me. I hope they will help you, too.
The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.
Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is a certified professional coach, experienced publishing strategist, and the author of eleven books, including Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity. She provides solutions for people who feel stuck, overwhelmed or confused by the writing and publishing process. She is the founder of Dream Keepers, a writing workshop that supports children and teens in finding their voice and sharing their stories. Sign up for her Write Now! Tips Ezine at https://www.writenowcoach.com.