Great advice doesn’t have to be long, sometimes short and simple is the best. The folks over at Inc. find the perfect example of short and simple advice in the words of Kurt Vonnegut:
It comes from celebrated author Kurt Vonnegut, who penned this succinct nugget of professional wisdom in response to a high school student who was given the assignment of writing his favorite author. Vonnegut’s kind reply included these two powerful words: practice becoming.
There’s a lot to be said for doing something just for the sake of doing it, with no other motivation or end goal in sight. In the creative arts practicing becoming strikes me as particularly poignant advice. Writing in and of itself should be its own reward and I think having this attitude is key to building a fulfilling writing life.
Why is this?
There will always be someone you can compare yourself to and find yourself wanting. There will always be more to want and more to dream. Instead of working to reach some fixed goal (and planning on finally enjoying yourself then), enjoy the the process of working and living itself, the self-exploration and moment-by-moment accomplishment it gives you.
If all you ever focus on is what you can get out of writing or where your writing can take you, you’re doing a disservice to yourself, your work, and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. The disappointment and dissatisfaction you’ll feel from never really “achieving” your goal can only lead to disappointment and dissatisfaction with your writing. That’s a recipe for giving up.
Writing is a process, not destination. Learn to love that journey. It’s something that I need to keep reminding myself everyday. That’s why Vonnegut’s advice resonates so much with me. Now it’s time for me to go and practice becoming.