Today I'm going to share with you guys my favorite writing quote. It's from Martha Graham, one of the most famous (and in my opinion, best) choreographers of all time. She said:
"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ... No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others."
Read it out loud to yourself. I'll wait.
I turn to this quote a lot. I read it and reread it. I write it by hand on post-its and cover things with it. I call my friends and read it to them. I read it to random strangers on the subway. I first encountered it on a post it, actually. Somebody had stuck it to the mirror in Life Alive, one of my favorite restaurants in Cambridge. Now I leave it on post-its in places. And put it on blogs like this one. It's my go to quote when I'm feeling like a lousy writer.
Let me tell you some of my favorite things about it:
1) The creative energy that courses through you is unique. There is NO ONE ELSE who can create what you create. Not ever. If you don't do it, the world will not have it. Only YOU can prevent forest fires. And only YOU can write what you write.
2) It isn't your job to figure out if what you make is good, or to compare it to someone else's art. That's something else. The refining is another process. The creation is just creation. It doesn't matter if what you're writing feels crappy today, or if you just saw in PM that a similar book is coming out next year.
3) You don't even have to believe in yourself! Some days it's impossible to believe. Luckily, you don't have to believe to do the work. You just have to let yourself channel that energy and put it out there, as only you can. No judging. No faith required. Just do it.
4) You'll never be satisfied. But that's what's so great about you! That's what's great about art. It can always be better, and stronger, and bigger, and different. The creative hunger is never totally sated. There's no point beating yourself up because you're not satisfied with your work. You will never, ever be satisfied.
We're all just blessedly restless.
March on, friends!