I made two commitments to myself this new year. One is to admit that I am a writer (I think a pretty good one). I love the process of writing and gain a tremendous amount of satisfaction in the creative work.
The second is to finally pull my ideas together and write The Book that has fluttered around my mind for nearly two decades. For a long time, I could guiltlessly shoo it away and say things like, “I’m not ready” or “I’m too busy” or even “I’m not good enough.” Well, friends, those ego-preserving excuses no longer hold any weight with me.
What I have experienced – the highlights, lowlights, and insights – since I entered the professional world 20 years ago have all been for a specific purpose. This book is one part of the fulfillment of this purpose. And, frankly, I just don’t know how to stay quiet any longer.
What’s this book about, you ask? Well, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when I tell you it’s focused on working. The book is a return to my roots; how our fulfilling work integrates with principles of play. A fully lived life can no longer be one where we settle of a less-than job and hope it all works out happily ever after. We all know it doesn’t happen like that no matter how hard we wish otherwise. So you might consider this book a guide (or even manifesto) for actually living WorkPlay. Look, if we’re going to do something, we might as well do it like we give a damn, have fun, with as much intention as we can bring.
I’ve been thinking and writing about work here for a rather long time (2004 to be exact). Yet, writing something like a book is unexplored territory for me so I’ve enlisted a few experienced scouts to help me assess the terrain and move forward in the art and craft of writing. If I want to be a published author, it only makes sense to study other published authors. A few who have shared their own experiences have become my personal field guides carefully pointing out important landmarks while identifying often hidden hazards.
So far, here are a few of the authors and their own books in which I turn when trying to make sense of the exciting, bewildering, and (sometimes) terrifying path of book writing.
Bill Kenower, in Fearless Writing, appeals to my Eastern spiritual philosophy by offering a zen-like appreciation for the work of writing: opening to the creative flow, embracing discomfort when it arises, and moving forward with spontaneous intention.
It’s also a hell of a good book on just living an authentic life. He writes that if we are to be the author of a good book, we first have to choose be the author of our life. This world doesn’t need passive writing or passive living.
One of the biggest takeaways for me is that – when confronted by the inevitable barrier of doubt – there are only two primary questions to ask: “What do I want to say?” and “Have I said it?” Simple. And the more I ask them of myself, the easier I regain the path toward my creative truth.
I grew up reading Stephen King. Carrie, Salem’s Lot, The Shining, and The Dead Zone were just a few that left a lasting love for horror fiction. I vividly remember sitting in the back of my parent’s minivan on a long road trip to God-knows-where. It was dark and I was reading Night Shift, Stephen’s collection of early short stories by flashlight. To this day, it was the scariest shit I ever read. I loved it and continue to love it to this day.
I read On Writing as his own special dispatch back to me from beyond the frontier. He’s experienced first-hand what it takes to be a writer, what it takes what it takes to enter and inhabit the creative space, what it takes to keep his cigar-chomping muse happy, and what it takes to write without fear of criticism.
Interestingly enough, Stephen often references William Strunk and E.B. White’s The Elements of Style. I picked up an illustrated copy several years ago when I began writing marketing copy. Over the years, I lightly breezed through it on rare occasions but didn’t think of it as a valuable resource. Wrong. As a non-English major, I’m not what you might call classically trained. Much of my writing style is self-taught – for better or worse. So it’s nice to have at easy reference some solid fundamental guidelines that are still applicable in the 21st century.
I know there are several other great books out there. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird is next on my list. But I also know that to read each book before I actually start my own would be the kind of procrastination that none of my author guides would accept. As with just about anything, I learn by doing.
So if you’re curious where all this is going, intrigued by the idea that your Work can also be Play, excited by the prospect of living more intentionally…stick around because there is so much more to come. Bookmark my site because this is going to be a refreshed playground of ideas. Or subscribe to my newsletter if you like getting fun things delivered to your inbox every month.
This is my invitation for you to join a journey into new landscapes where living, working, and playing happily coexist. Let’s go.