The only advice any of us need
(Congratulations to Jakz for winning the Starbucks gift card! Send me an email with your mailing address and I’ll send it via carrier pigeon as soon as mine gets back from the war.)
I’ve been on a bit of a book-buying binge lately. (Bonus points for alliteration) I bought half a dozen, read one then, bought two more. The result is that I’ve unintentionally built a small paperback ziggurat on my nightstand.
First I read Relativity by Einstein, which was super confusing and complicated. I thought I could do it because I’ve read a couple of “intro to physics” type books- maybe “pop-physics” is a good way to describe them. Anyway, Einstein kicked my butt. I read it, but didn’t understand all of it.
Next up was The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. (Sidenote: I tweeted about this book, and it resulted in me getting followed by Sun Tzu, so that’s pretty exciting.) I’ve been meaning to pick this one up for about a year. I can’t count how many people have recommended it to me. It’s on lots of “must read” lists, so I finally got around to ordering and reading it.
First impressions: it’s an easy read. Very conversational in tone, short chapters, got through it in a couple of nights.
Good content. Encouraging stuff. Lots of spiritual elements. (Not Christian, but spiritual. Don’t go to Lifeway looking for this one.) An interesting perspective on our role as creators of content.
I can see why so many people recommend it. I really enjoyed it.
I’ve noticed a trend in the books, articles, blogs, posts, and interviews that are aimed at writers, authors, and artists. They all kind of boil down to the same thing:
Just do the work.
That’s it. Don’t think about working, don’t talk about working, don’t plan on working. Just go sit down somewhere and do it. Painters don’t just plan on painting. They paint. Authors don’t just think about writing. They write. Dancers don’t just talk about dancing. They dance.
The Avett Brothers were on to something with their lyrics- “Decide what to be and go be it.”
Nike gets it, too- “Just do it.”
And the great thing is that this advice works with anything. If you’re out of shape and want to be in better shape, just start working out and eating better. It really is that simple. If you want to learn how to play the violin, you literally just have to pick up a violin and start learning it. If you want to be fluent in Mandarin Chinese, all you have to do is buy some books or CDs or software, and start learning it.
All of it is hard work, sure, but it’s not complicated. There’s not a secret that’s being kept from you. There’s not a conspiracy to keep you from doing whatever it is you want to do.
You just have to figure out what you want to be or do, then start being and doing it.
You have my permission to print this post out and keep it in your nightstand so you never have to buy another self-help book again.