Write like a motherfucker would have to be my first bit of advice. What that means to me is that—as I say in the column—you really, really have to be a warrior and a motherfucker. And you have to be resilient and faithful. You can’t be a wimp. You can’t stand around bitching about how hard it is and how indignant you are that no one appreciates your work, about how no one will publish you, or how people at parties make you feel stupid, about how you’re really not only a waitress or whatever job you’ve taken, about how your parents don’t understand you, or any of the stuff I bitched about plenty myself. I don’t say this from a place of condemnation, but rather allegiance. You really have to buck the fuck up, do the work, and know that you’re probably going to have to do more work than you imagined you’d have to do to get to the place that you imagined as successful. And when you get there, you’ll see that “successful” feels less successful than you thought it would. Success in writing is about keeping the faith over a long, long stretch of time. This isn’t something you just do a little bit and then get a reward at the end of—it’s a life’s work.
I believe in that voice I trusted all along the way. I believe in writing as a calling. If you truly feel that calling in you, then listen to it and respect it, but don’t expect that anything is going to be given to you—you have to get it. That’s true of any art form; any artist will tell you that.
–Cheryl Strayed, on her advice for young writers
This is just brilliant life advice, even if you don’t care about writing. I’m a big fan of ‘writing like a motherfucker’ (and totally own this mug) but I love her further explanation of what this means.
And in case you don’t know who Cheryl Strayed is, she is the writer of the most amazing advice column, Dear Sugar. Dear Sugar is basically a combination of that warm mug of hot chocolate and freezing cold shower sometimes I find I need when I’m wrestling with life. Whether answering questions about fetishes or infidelity or student debt, Strayed consistently reminds me how the small questions that plague us are often the big ones in disguise–which is exactly what a good advice columnist does.