Smart Talk -

I saw this on Deborah Ager's blog who found it on Elizabeth Gilbert's website:

Gilbert writes:

"The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it. You will think: “I suck, I’m such a failure. I’m washed-up.” Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness (which comes from a place of kind and encouraging and motherly love). The other thing to realize is that all writers think they suck. When I was writing “Eat, Pray, Love”, I had just as a strong a mantra of THIS SUCKS ringing through my head as anyone does when they write anything. But I had a clarion moment of truth during the process of that book. One day, when I was agonizing over how utterly bad my writing felt, I realized: “That’s actually not my problem.” The point I realized was this – I never promised the universe that I would write brilliantly; I only promised the universe that I would write. So I put my head down and sweated through it, as per my vows.”

She also writes this on her thoughts about writing:

"We need more creation, not more destruction. We need our artists more than ever, and we need them to be stable, steadfast, honorable and brave – they are our soldiers, our hope. If you decide to write, then you must do it, as Balzac said, “like a miner buried under a fallen roof.” Become a knight, a force of diligence and faith. I don’t know how else to do it except that way. As the great poet Jack Gilbert said once to young writer, when she asked him for advice about her own poems: “Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say YES.”
* * *

Isn't the the truth, it's not about writing brilliantly, but just writing.

And I love the line about needing more creation than destruction. Yes to that. I remember Li-Young Lee saying imagine if more people wrote poetry and what kind of world we'd have. And I remember thinking, "Yes, what a *kind* world we'd have."

So everyone, go forth and create.



  1. Brilliant.

    Thank you for this.

  2. Oh thank you. I am feeling particularly sucky today and I so needed this!

  3. I am ready to print this in small font of course and glue it to a sign, and march the streets of Princeton!


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