A rare and unexpected holiday has shoved the Things That Need Doing Right Now into a complex squidge of pages, people to contact and panic.
So this post - sorry! - is just about my computer's current post-it note.
Maybe a month ago,Nick Green - thank you, Nick! - mentioned a second book by Dorothea Brande. As I have always been curious about how artists and writers work, I investigated.
Brande, an American editor, was the author of "Becoming A Writer". Originally published in 1934, her first book gained extra popularity when the novelist John Braine claimed in his foreword to the 1983 edition that Brande's advice cured his writer's block. Maybe that was the moment when the whole modern genre of "writing about writing" toddled to its feet and started walking and talking?
What is the essence of this second book? Basically - in "Wake Up and Live" - Brande suggests that whenever we think and act in negative ways, we use up too much of the energy we could be putting into our art, our writing and living. Whenever we feel low or lack confidence, we slide into a constant cycle of giving time and attention to all those things that we can't do, all the failures and frets and fears.
We worry about all we haven't done or all that others seem to be succeeding at - and this was way before Facebook and Twitter! - and end up sapping the energy that we should be spending on the work itself. The book as a whole isn't one I'd recommend, but this particular point made sense to me.
Brande also went on to say that before going into an important interview, an awkward meeting or a scary party, people are advised to pause, present their best self and enter the room acting as if they have confidence. Yes, ACTING as they can do it.
So that's what you, the writer or artist, do. You go to your work acting as if you were the person you'd like to be, imagining you are your best version of yourself, giving your energy to the positive side of yourself.
Each morning, now the holiday laundry is done, I'm going to approach my work in progress, take a moment to push away all that sad energy-draining stuff and try imagining myself as the writer I might be.
This is how Brande puts it:
ACT AS IF IT WERE IMPOSSIBLE TO FAIL
Eight words that might help. Eight words that inspire me more than the usual daily litany of self-doubt. The words are perfect for my desk right now.