26 lessons in 26 years
Always let people know how you feel.
Breaks are important in the creative process. Walking away from your computer won’t disrupt some magic spell. Remember: You need to eat. You need to hydrate. You need to stretch your muscles, and laugh with your loved ones, and check in with the world around you.
Calls can be scary. Especially in moments that feel big enough to determine your career trajectory. But I promise, you will get through this. Don’t walk away from the chance to let them hear your voice. Take a deep breath. Open your notebook. You’ve got this.
Dogs are too good and too pure for this world. Sometimes it feels like we don’t deserve them. But the best doggos will always remind us: “Yes. You do deserve this love. Look at me wagging my tail! And dancing in circles around your feet when you come home!” And really, what more could we ask for?
Everyone starts somewhere. Allow yourself to be a beginner. Because you will begin again and again, with each new project. There is no way around it.
Fill your stories with your fascinations. Even if your interests feel too exact, too random, too strange, or too—you. Making guest appearances in your work will charm the right audiences. Just look at Stan Lee and his cameos.
Goals can adjust over time. Changing your mind about something isn’t the same thing as failing.
Have you ever made a pie crust? Have you ever overworked the dough? Were you hoping for a flaky, buttery masterpiece, but instead it’s kind of just—meh? Writing can be the same way. It’s possible to overwork your story. Sometimes less is more.
Creative work is real work.
Okay, sure. Creative professions aren’t comparable to most other jobs. But these differences don’t decrease the value of what you’re doing.
It’s liberating to turn off your social media notifications. To clear unwanted or unnecessary apps from your phone. It’s okay to put the digital world on hold.
Call people when you find yourself unexpectedly thinking of them. You just might make their day.
Follow your intuition. Gut feelings exist for a reason.
Shedding light on our histories can bring brightness to our future. Remember this, even when the act of remembering is uncomfortable.
If you want to be a writer, you must first be a reader. A serious reader, who understands the complex mechanics of stories, the tropes of specific genres, the rules you might want to follow, and the rules you might want to bend.
Kindness is the true key to success. Build positive relationships. Lift your people up.
You will attract the energy you carry.
You are a representative of your loved ones. Say and do things that will make your family proud. (Unless your family is bigoted or cruel or unjust. In this case: dare to be different. They might say you are acting out, but you’re not. You’re rerouting your life, and choosing lightness while they prefer the dark.)
Proceed with grace and good intentions.
There is no such thing as self-made success.
There is no such thing as overnight success.
Writing can be exhausting. Sometimes you will sit at your computer, and it will feel like drawing water from a well with a pint-sized cup. All this effort, and it’s barely even worth it.
Writing can feel like flying. Sometimes you will sit at your computer, and the keys won’t click fast enough.
Listen to your body. The sensations we feel along our skin, and the aches we carry within ourselves—these feelings are a compass. Look in the direction they are pointing to. Ask yourself if this is a place you wish to go. Proceed from there.
If you feel stuck in your writing, it often helps to go back to the beginning and read your words aloud.
Have patience. Have hope. And everything will turn out just fine.