Your most important job as a writer—in fact, I would argue your ONLY job—is to keep yourself writing; and trust me, that is job enough.
When you sit down to write, it will seem like all heaven and earth has come down to stop you.
Every distraction, every hesitation, every uncertainty, every insecurity, every dramatic event, every heartsickness will descend on you in the hour you are to write.
You will think to yourself, “Oh, this doesn’t matter much. It can wait until tomorrow. I need to think about it more. It isn’t turning out well, anyway. I’ve written better. Other people have written better. No one will read it. I’m wasting my time. This will never work. I should come back to it later.”
You will be fully convinced all of those things are true (“No really,” you’ll tell me, shaking your head, “In my case it is true!”).
But here’s the thing: none of that is your job to arrange. None of it is your job to coordinate. None of it is your job to ensure. The readership, the organization, the goodness or badness of the writing, how much it will matter in the grand scope of the Universe, whether lives will be changed, even the punctuation and spelling (contrary to popular belief)—none of that is the job of the writer.
Writing is not an exercise of the mind. It is an exercise of the heart. (tweet this)
Come to think of it, the same is true for life.
There are activities in life that require our minds (the mind is important. I’m not diminishing the mind). But the art and the act of living, for the most part, is a task of the heart. And when it comes to how your life is going to turn out at the end, what people are going to say about you at your funeral, what they’ll write on your gravestone, if a decision you make will be the most brilliant decision ever made on the face of planet Earth or whether it will be a colossal failure, well… that’s not really your job to decide.
Your job is to just keep living, just keep facing forward, just keep moving in the direction you’re led.
Give yourself a break. Tell that inner-critic inside of you (you know the one I’m talking about, the one that says, “are you sure you want to do that? You’re going to screw this all up…) to shut up for once.
Sit down and write. Go out there and live your life. The rest will work itself out later.
Besides, this is your only job.