Ask Yourself If You Must Create

This month I’m participating in the A to Z Challenge, blogging every day of the month of April, except Sundays, on a topic from A to Z. I’m posting short-form topics meant to get you talking and sharing! Join the discussion in the comments.


The word I was originally going to use for the letter A was “advice,” which made me think of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, and I knew I wanted to write something about that book. However, when I looked back and started reading it again, I found this in the first letter:

(If you are a painter or a musician or a dancer or other creator, please substitute your own discipline in place of writing here)

“You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. … I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you — no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple, ‘I must,’ then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.”

So, then, must you?

It is a good question to ask and re-ask, and ask again. For me, I couldn’t quit. After two days I begin to hurt. After three I’m miserable. The only time I can last that long is if I’m traveling, and that because I know I’m putting experiences into my brain that will later come out as writing.

Most importantly, I wouldn’t want to quit. I don’t want to quit. I’ve worked on planning a novel for an hour every morning this week, and the difference it makes to how I feel about everything is breath-taking. This is mine. I love it, and it makes me happy.

What’s yours? Would you quit? What’s it like to think about it?


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5 thoughts on “Ask Yourself If You Must Create

    • Yes, I also find that if I am super productive one day, I tend to crash the next. I do the best I can to keep it at an even keel but also let my natural rhythms be my guide.

    • Yesterday I freaked out and almost bailed on the challenge. 😉 But then I got to work and all was well. Thanks, Michelle.

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