The World According to Garp

Below is an excerpt from John Irving's 1978 novel The World According to Garp:

Garp threw away his second novel and began a second novel. Unlike Alice, Garp was a real writer—not because he wrote more beautifully than she wrote but because he knew what every artist should know: as Garp put it, “You only grow by coming to the end of something and by beginning something else.” Even if these so-called endings and beginnings are illusions. Garp did not write faster than anyone else, or more; he simply always worked with the idea of completion in mind.

Finish what you start, or throw it away and start something you'll finish. Ship it.

On the other hand, you can put it aside and let it marinate.

Everything comes to use, eventually. You can only connect the dots looking backward after the experience.

art via giphy


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Seth Godin on writer’s block

Writer’s block is a myth created by people who are afraid to the do the work. / Seth Godin on writer's block #amwriting

Writer's block is a myth created by people who are afraid to the do the work.

There are various reasons writers let the blank page get the best of their emotions.

  • Trying to be too perfect
  • Procrastinating en route to excuses that usually include the word “But….”
  • Unwilling to fail or write poor sentences first
  • Living up to someone else's expectations
  • Being afraid to share their work

Writer's block appears to be the work of evil. It wants us to quit and hide in shame instead of “dancing with the amygdala” as Seth Godin pleads on the very subject in his new podcast: ‘No such thing (as writer’s block).' Stream it below.

In reality, no one gets talker's block just as a plumber never gets plumber's block or a teacher gets teaching block. Such stuckness is a work of fiction.

Pro tip: The habit of blogging every day helps me defeat writer's block. The more you write, the more you have to play with. Start your blogging journey and set up your website for FREE on WordPress right here.

Forget inspiration and do the work

If we choose to be professional, we choose to show up consistently and dance with the fear. We develop habits that allow us to unlock what Steven Pressfield's calls the resistance in his book The War of Art, compelling the muse to work with us rather than against us.

This is what Seth Godin says on facing the resistance:

“The resistance never goes away. The more important the work is, the louder it gets. The harder you try to make it go away, the hard and more clever it gets in response. The work is doing it when you don't feel like it. Doing it when it's not easy.”

Seth Godin

Fear leads to inertia which leads to regret. The lizard brain wants us to run away and never come back.

What if instead of giving up, we started writing by doing it poorly, persisting through the maze of bad ideas. Only when we have something to work with can go back we tweak it.

Perfection is futile — writers rarely nail in a good sentence in the first draft. Rough drafts are expectedly shitty. All writing is in the edit, anyway.

If we write regularly, we'll get better at avoiding the pain of getting stuck. Habits are everything. But if we do get blocked? Again, keep writing with no regard for perfection.

Said novelist John McPhee: “The funny thing is that you get to a certain point and you can’t quit. Because I always worried: If you quit, you’ll quit again. The only way out was to go forward, to learn your way and write your way out of it.”

In short, heed this writing advice: Don't whine, don't complain, get busy and make things. Speed-write, set an imaginary deadline, write by hand — do whatever it takes to get something down. And if we're still stuck — go for walk while listening to Seth's podcast below:

gif via rewire.org & big hero 6


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Everyone is a critic

writer #art #quotes" src="https://wellsbaum.blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/60045652_2011460432496437_3062314035690078208_n.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-44805" srcset="https://i0.wp.com/wellsbaum.blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/60045652_2011460432496437_3062314035690078208_n.jpg?w=500&ssl=1 500w, https://i0.wp.com/wellsbaum.blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/60045652_2011460432496437_3062314035690078208_n.jpg?resize=300%2C224&ssl=1 300w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" />

Not everyone is an artist but everyone is a fucking critic.

Marcel Duchamp, French-American painter, sculptor, and writer

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‘How you do anything is how you do everything’

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Below is an excerpt from The Daily Stoic, a book I always tend to when I get frazzled:

Pay attention to what’s in front of you—the principle, the task, or what’s being portrayed.

— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8.22

It’s fun to think about the future. It’s easy to ruminate on the past. It’s harder to put that energy into what’s in front of us right at this moment—especially if it’s something we don’t want to do. We think: This is just a job; it isn’t who I am. It doesn’t matter. But it does matter. Who knows—it might be the last thing you ever do. Here lies Dave, buried alive under a mountain of unfinished business.

There is an old saying: “How you do anything is how you do everything.” It’s true. How you handle today is how you’ll handle every day. How you handle this minute is how you’ll handle every minute.


via giphy


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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

“Reading is the creative center of a writer's life. I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in. The trick is to teach yourself to read in small sips as well as in long swallows. Waiting rooms were made for books—of course! But so are theater lobbies before the show, long and boring checkout lines, and everyone's favorite, the john. You can even read while you're driving, thanks to the audiobook revolution. Of the books I read each year, anywhere from six to a dozen are on tape. As for all the wonderful radio you will be missing, come on—how many times can you listen to Deep Purple sing “Highway Star”?

Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

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Ansel Adams: Photography With Intention

Today, the mobile phone makes everyone a photographer. But how many people can create what they actually visualize in their head?

For Ansel Adams, what he saw in front of him was different than what he pictured in his mind’s eye. So he created the ‘zone system,’ allowing him to play with the aperture to achieve different hues of black and white.

Of course, he had to do all this before he even took the picture. Ansel Adams was applying filters before the Polaroid. Today, we can take any image and photoshop afterward to make it look like we want. We also have the luxury of sharing it immediately. But the abundance of photos drowns out great talent. Scarcity worked out in Adam’s favor.

Ansel Adams: Photography With Intention

Yet, Ansel Adams was excited about the future of what would become electronic photography. New mediums require new ways of thinking. But the photographic intention remains the same:

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”

Ansel Adams

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