"the only journey is the journey within"

- RILKE

Unless it's a journey through these pages. That's a journey, too.

Advice #3: Your only worry for yourself should be “did I work today”? 

3. You’re only worry for yourself should be “did I work today”

I’m starting this series with piece of advice #3. This one comes from Richard Bausch’s essay ‘ Dear Writer’. 

I picked this one to start because it’s served me well already in just my first month of full-on fiction writing. Not necessarily for the words that go onto the page, but for how I manage my writing project with the rest of my life.

See, I imagine that Bausch’s idea here (mixed in an essay ripe with good advice, and harking on making sure to get time in to write) could be transposed for someone who is working on a writing project in addition to other work (nine to five) or other life tasks like raising children, managing a home, etc…

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For me, I have none of that. I quit my job, packed up some bags, and headed to southeast asia, where my list of worries for a day usually runs about as a deep as “where should I get my smoothie from” or “is there even an ATM in this town?”

And yet, with Bausch’s advice, I’ve artificially inserted a worry. A singular one each day: did I work today? Meaning, did I write. Did I do what I came out here set to do?

And I want to go to sleep every night saying yes. Even, I suppose, if that work is just spending time alone—in the intimacy of my mind—with my characters, the plot they’re in, etc….

Some people asked me when I left why I was going to Asia. It was a fair question. My book has nothing to do with this part of the world. I gave some the answer that living out is cheap, which is true. It is wonderfully cheap. I told others that I wanted to go because traveling gave me creative energy. Also true. 

What I came back to in my mind—whether it fits or not—is the Springsteen lyric from ‘For You’ where he sings, “so you left to find a better reason than the one we were living for”. 

I dont know. That’s not really it. But that’s with came to mind, so in the truth of sharing that there it is. 

But if I did that, left to find a better reason, than I need to do so. And writing has been that thing. That’s why I left, why I left the path of life that I was on. To try and fulfill a dream of many years to write. 

And here I find myself in these abundant paradises: beautiful beach towns, captivating cliff views, new cities, speeding tuk-tuks, and delicious food. 

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In these various paradises, I need to remember I didn’t “escape” (so to speak) to live here, to leave things behind. My book explores that life; working in America. Being young in America; trying to make money and get by and all that. So I need to stay attached to it.

No, my worry, my goal, my mission is not to escape. But to work. To write. To tick that box that says, “yes, I worked today. I wrote 2,000 words, or 3,000, or I mapped out the next two chapters in my mind and now I want to race home and write them”. 

I’ll take this advice for now and as  long as I’m here. In the lands of no worries, I’m giving myself one. 

Advice #18: Write For Your Generation

Advices Project Intro