I learned a valuable lesson from Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. Unfortunately, it seems like his essays Novelist as a Vocation are not available in English, so I hope my translation from the German edition will do his words justice.
Haruki Murakami wrote:
But how do we know what we absolutely need, what we don't absolutely need, and what we don't need at all?
In my experience, this is a straightforward matter. In principle, there is only one criterion, and that is whether something gives you pleasure. In some activities that you think are important for you, you will possibly encounter some discord, things that are not right, in which you cannot find spontaneous joy and pleasure, and about which you are annoyed while doing them. Then you have to go back to the beginning and separate yourself from those elements that spoil your joy and seem artificial.
Murakami's words rang a chord in me, and I encountered several situations where I could put his advice to use.
For instance, I enjoyed the tarot writing workshops with Peg Cheng, but I also felt a lot of anxiety before those live events. So after Peg and I had decided to pause the workshops until spring next year, I went for a walk thinking about Murakami's quote and my love for tarot.
I pull a tarot card at the beginning of each of my writing streams, and even when I am not streaming, I pull cards for myself in the morning. Live workshops make me quite nervous, but drawing the cards and thinking up writing prompts naturally come to me. So why not take the live aspect out of the equation?
An idea hit me right at that moment. Why not share a tarot card with writing prompts in blog form? I started a mini-blog on Tumblr that day. It is straightforward, and this simplicity keeps me going with this project. It is at the heart of what I enjoy - pulling cards and coming up with writing prompts. Please have a look at my Tumblr blog here.
Another instance where Murakami's wisdom came to mind was my newsletter. I enjoy sharing tips and tricks about writing. I always bring up books I found helpful or writing exercises and motivational quotes in my writing streams. I love that. And I had made these writing tips the core of my newsletter. Yet, I struggle with sending out my newsletter regularly.
So, I thought of Murakami's words. What is the annoying part of writing those newsletters? It is too big of a project: I need to find ten things to share, and writing such a long email each week puts too much pressure on me. It seemed like such an overwhelming task at times.
Again, I took a step back to the beginning - I love sharing tips with people, and I love to write those tips, but it has to be a straightforward process. So, I started another Tumblr mini-blog: here.
I don't know where my two Tumblr mini-projects will lead me, but I am back at the core of what I enjoy doing. I got rid of the annoying and overwhelming parts and continue creating what I love daily.
The funny thing is, I also created the Tumblr mini-blog about writing because I feel making a blog post here on my website is always such an overpowering project too. I need to find a nice picture to share. I have to think about SEO words. It takes a lot of time to write a blog post worth sharing with you - just too much of a hassle at times and another reason I seldomly post here. 😅
And yet, today, while thinking about this Haruki Murakami quote and how I could use it for my daily post about writing, I realized that this topic has way more potential than just a quick note.
The magic happened: I wrote a longer blog post because I went back to what I enjoy and got inspired.
So, I want to encourage you to give Murakami's method a try. Whenever you feel blocked somewhere on your path: Take one or several steps back and ask yourself:
- What is it that I enjoy?
- What made me start this whole journey?
- What stays if I get rid of all the annoying stuff?
Go back to the beginnings and ignite the magical fire of what you love and enjoy.