Currently Inspired By: “If You Want to Write” by Brenda Ueland

What is it about us human beings and our capacity to always want what we can’t have?

This book, for instance.

It sat in my bookcase for six years, untouched, unloved, despite the fact I’d heard it mentioned by numerous sources over the years as a “must-read” for writers. Finally I gave it to my BFF, Frankie. Where it proceeded to lay in her bookcase, not for six years, but…you get the drift.

Anyhoo, it was only when I was up visiting her last weekend that I came across it again. And for the first time EVER – I actually started reading. And reading. And reading. And reading turned to underlining. And underlining turned to more underlining. And more underlining turned to…da da da da…putting my newly sparked passion into practice and WRITING.

I have written more in the past few days than I have written in MONTHS. Articles, sketches of book projects, snippets of comedy…I have turned a real corner, THANK THE GOOD LORD DAVID BOWIE.

I’d love to share a few snippets with you which have particularly rocked my world.

Writing, the creative effort, the use of the imagination, should come first – at least for some part of every day of your life. It is a wonderful blessing if you will use it. You will become happier, more enlightened, alive, impassioned, light-hearted and generous to everybody else. Even your health will improve. Colds will disappear and all the other ailments of discouragement and boredom.

Damn, I hope she’s right! 😉

Also, in talking about William Blake:

…this creative power in Blake did not come from ambition…he said…”I wish to do nothing for profit. I wish to live for art. I want nothing whatever. I am quite happy.”

And the following two, which I think apply as well (which I suppose, they absolutely should anyway) to comedy:

But it must come from your true self and not your theoretical self, from what you really think, love and believe, not from your hope to make an impression.

When you say perfunctorily about the sky just to talk: ‘What a beautiful evening!’ that is not poetry. But if you say it and mean it very much, it is.

By the way if you’re interested you can buy the book for yourself over here.

It’s really inspired me to try harder with my writing. To push myself to not be lazy – which I really, REALLY have been – but to, as my treasured friends and improv posse at Loose Moose Theatre would put it, “play at the top of your intelligence.” Which essentially, I think, just means to strive to do the best work you’re truly capable of. No phoning it in!

While we’re on the writing front, I have been flirting with the idea – not seriously, just in a Britney in “Oops I Did It Again” way – of writing a bit more on here ABOUT writing, doing some creative prompts etc. on there, kinda like an incredibly informal and most likely highly scatter-brained writing group/corner. Only you don’t need to report back on what you’ve done (unless of course, you want to!), rather it would just be a way of hopefully prompting any of you who enjoy writing/wanna write to  be inspired to do more of it, myself included! Would that be of interest to YOU? To anybody out there other than myself? If so, please let me know in the comments and so long as I’m not overwhelmed by crickets (note the “s” there. I can’t imagine how anybody on this earth could be overwhelmed by cricket), I will proceed with said idea. If not, no biggie, I will just continue my thing over here in the corner and occasionally interrupt my scrawlings with bursts of manic youtube-surfing.

Let me know what you reckon.


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  1. June 7, 2012

    Jenny Wynter! 3 things:

    Firstly, cricket can be overwhelming. Truly – I’ve been overwhelmed by it before. Just the once, but now you know it’s possible.

    Secondly, have you read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield? It’s one of those books (like the one above) that people say ‘every writer must read’, and it took me forever to get around to it. Probably pulled more insight, motivation and quotes out of that book than any others I’ve read, though. Definitely recommend it if you haven’t read it before.

    Thirdly, have you read Jeff Goins’ blog? I think it’s He’s on Twitter too, @JeffGoins. Anyway, he’s a writer and he talks a lot about the life of a writer and getting your butt into gear to get your writing done. So, I think you might like his stuff.

    • June 7, 2012

      My little anti-cricket mind simply cannot conceive of it. But I know and like you, so I shall take you at your word.

      *shakes head*

      Haven’t read The War of Art yet, trying to download it right now as an audio-book! I too have heard that one come up tons over the years, have to pull my finger out now!

      Just went onto Jeff Goins’ blog, thanks heaps, very cool indeed.


      • June 7, 2012

        Don’t get me wrong, it’s no AFL match – almost all of those are overwhelming! But it’s possible.

        Let me know if you read The War of Art, I’d be interested to know what you think. I think it’s a great book because it really makes you think about why you are or aren’t creating art, and it totally applies to everything we do as artists, not just writing.

  2. bobbo75
    June 7, 2012

    Yes, yes, yes Jen. I have been very much enjoying your posts of late – definitely (and this is meant as a compliment) the outpourings of a not-to-be-frustrated-for-long writer. Go hard! In whatever form it takes, I for one will be interacting the **** out of any and/or all of it.
    By the way – The Betties… pure mastery (mistressy?) in the making.
    By the other way – really really friggin glad that lump was, well, nothing more than that.

  3. Franipantz
    June 7, 2012

    Hey Jen! Is it laziness or fear? I don’t for a minute think you’re lacking inspiration. I’ve had this project of my own brewing for a long time and bit by bit I’ve been hacking away at it, but I had a bit of an epiphany one night while I was being ‘lazy’ and watching crappy TV. It was about cupcakes. The character was trying, on her friend/business partners advice, to learn how to make ‘pretty’ cupcakes. The people she tried learning from were a couple of meanies and put down her efforts. She was great at making cupcakes and she was great at insulting people. So she proved she could make a ‘pretty’ cupcake with enormous time and effort, then she slammed it icing down on the counter and produced a couple of cupcakes that insulted the crap out of the mean teachers. Of course, the mean teachers put it down and said they’d never sell but the rest of the class was mad keen for them!! (it was NY).
    I made cupcakes recently and I wanted them to be ‘pretty’ (it was for a holy communion!!) but in the end I knew I didn’t have the professional skills to make them like others I saw on the net. So I decorated them using confectionery to make funny faces with teeth and lips and lumpy choc drops and strawberry laces for hair. They were really hideous but they were so much fun to make I didn’t care and guess what? Everyone loved them! Rachel wants me to make them for her wedding with Custard playing at the event!

    It’s not an obvious lesson, but for some reason it made me realise how afraid I’ve been of not being good enough. What if my illustrations aren’t as good as the greats – Quentin Blake for instance. I realised that I was putting expectations on myself to be as good as someone who is already very successful and loved. I was so scared I couldn’t do something that other people would like that I couldn’t even put pen to paper and complete the final drafts!!

    So what I learned was – do it my own way. We don’t have to be as good as anyone else. Maybe we are and we just don’t know it yet? Maybe we’re as good as the best we can do, regardless of anyone’s opinion? I don’t know if it’s fear that’s been holding you back, but I didn’t realise I was holding back out of fear until the cupcake episode.

    I think we naturally gravitate towards inspiration that helps us be brave and just DO those things we really want to do. It’s not without sacrifice but if you’re surrounded and supported by people who love you and want you to be happy they forgive an awful lot.

    If writing is what you want to do, then the only thing really holding you back is you. There’s tons of other cool and fun stuff you can do as well. That’s the beauty and advantage of being an artist. It’s on your terms. No one is holding you to it but you. But that’s hard too!! I seem to be more productive when I’m doing it for someone else. Working for yourself is a bit more tricky. Self motivation is the hardest but perseverance means everything.

    Start and bit by bit go for it!! I’ll meet you at the end!! Race is ON!!

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