Nov 18, 2015

My Manifesto

I recently attended a webinar by Jeff Goins. I found out about him because Jamie Raintree set up a group and had it as a book of the month to read. I highly recommend reading The Art of Work because it is inspiring and motivating, meant for everyone.

One of the things that stood out to me in the webinar was the necessity to write a manifesto. At first, I thought I’d just jot down some ideas and let them ride. Then, I thought it would be the sort of thing I’d work through, write out my thoughts, for myself. But as it sat in my mind, as it lingered in the back of my brain, I realized that it would be more beneficial, to myself and maybe to others, if I put what I’m thinking out there for the world to see.

Yes, it’s a dangerous thing these days, to express thoughts and opinions and feelings.

But it’s more dangerous to live of life of dissatisfaction. And I’ve been doing that for several years now.

Jeff Goins recommends three steps to fleshing out a manifesto. These aren’t just his ideas - it’s the way Declaration of Independence is constructed as well. Below, you will find thoughts on the three manifesto components:  

1. The Problem
2. Ideal Solution
3. Call to Action


To figure out my problem, and again, guided by ideas from Jeff Goins, I asked myself these questions.

Is creating my primary concern?
Do I write for the love of writing?
Am I working toward a career, hoping that the act of creating will sustain me?

“As we care less about our audience’s affections, more people will be affected by our writing.” —Jeff Goins

Creation is not now, nor was it ever, motivated by the praise and accolades of others. Creation is a sense of self, a divine ability given to man to make more of this world, of themselves. There is a tendency online to become a receiver, to simply adopt the role of a benefactor who acquires motivation, who absorbs inspiration without any indication of reciprocation. This does not align with the role of a creator. 

Writing and rewriting something with the hopes that the numbers will go up, that it will reciprocate its value through monetary is selfish, and not the way of art. Writing is to make sense of a world that can, at times, be frustrating, overwhelming, soul-crushing. Writing is to allow what I keep inside to maintain political correctness, to sustain friendships, to avoid confrontations due to statements, logos, colors and creed because I don’t want to fight anymore. That is different from giving up. That is different from apathy. That is simply valuing relationships. But holding it in can become heavy — heavier than what one person can handle. 

If I let the writer within me have the chance to express herself, even the most frustrating feelings can eventually become lyrical expressions of peace, joy, love. 

And so, I’m declaring my intention as a writer. 

This is different than announcing I’m a writer. This is different than admitting I’m trying to find representation on a book I started two and a half years ago. This is even different than investing in myself through attending conferences, buying craft books, joining organizations and the like. 

This is me, saying to myself, to my loved ones, to the world, that I write because there is a part of me that longs for it. There is a peace that I get when I can put word on screen or paper that doesn’t quite come from anything else. There is a way that writing lets me sort through thoughts, feelings, complications of a daily life that can often remain ambiguous otherwise. 

This is me saying that to have the quality of life that I can enjoy, to be the mom that my kids need, to be the wife that my husband needs, to serve people around me, I need to have time to write. 


Of course, ideal would be that I could work a little less at the job that currently pays me, and make a little more as a writer.

However, I think the ideal solution can’t happen until we admit the actual reality.

I will often let excuses of tiredness get in the way of what I know I need to do to be happy.
I am prone to stare at something for fifteen - twenty - thirty minutes as a way for me to calm down, to take my mind off of all the things that are keeping me from writing when I know what I should be doing is writing.
I am guilty of having been a taker of the internet for a long time, which was beneficial when I was a student of the craft, and while I firmly believe that everyone needs to be lifelong learner, dedicating our lives to just that isn’t sufficient for a society to exist; life long learners need to be contributors as well.
I didn’t pitch a class for a conference this year because I discredited what I have to offer.
I don’t put advice out there because I wonder if I’m expert enough. 

And at the same time, I let my kids, my husband, my friends, my students see me fail because I know they need to see that failure isn’t forever, that mistakes make people better, and that ebbs and flows are part of the process. 

Too often, and I think this is mostly an American thing, we hide the struggle that someone went through in the process of getting it together. We wait and hide until what we have to put forth is “the best” and then offer vain mumblings of humility because it’s not socially appropriate to let someone know how much work something was. 

So I’m not waiting until my career is at the right place to justify an active blog. I’m not waiting until I have an agent, a deal, a book, or a crowd to share what I think about process and struggles and craft. The writers who I love are the ones who are honest about their dealings with their art. Who acknowledge there are incredible days and bad days. 


And finally, as the final part of my manifesto, I’m giving myself a call to action. I’m showing up - here and for my family and with my book - every single day. No more dismissing a day because it might not be as good as the last one was. No more not writing because of whatever reason I’ve used in the past. I tell my students all the time we can fix crap, but we can’t fix nothing. If I want this to happen, I have to have something. And it might not be the most eloquent something. It might not change the world. But I am committing to this goal/dream/aspiration or what have you because every element of my soul is acknowledging this is the right thing for me right now. 


Discovering my love for writing, over and over, has made it clear that there is more to life than repeating the same day over and over. I hope you, as a reader of this blog, know what it is that makes you feel complete. If not, start exploring. Start wondering and trying and testing. Accept the failures (there will be some) and then accept what that means. My failures in learning to crochet (still can’t) FELT different than my failures in writing. I wanted to continue pursuing after the one, I’m really good to never try the other again. 

Have you identified the thing that makes you feel the most you? Is it parenting? Knitting? A passion someone doesn’t know about? Reading? Have you taken the time to identify what is keeping you from enjoying it more thoroughly? 

If not, please set up a date with yourself, a chance to find/rediscover a passion. Identify the problem. Discover the ideal solution. Then formulate a call to action - however big or small - to get you on the path of enjoying that 
And then, experience the magic of chasing a dream. 


JeffO said...

"we can fix crap, but we can’t fix nothing"

I love it!

And I love the manifesto. Chase the dream, have no regrets.