PhotobucketWe’re all taking ourselves too damn seriously.

What do I mean by this?

I mean that we’re so focused on …

• Being as productive as possible
• Crafting the best manuscript possible
• Building the best platform possible
• Appearing as professional as possible

… that we lose sight of who we really are and instead try to follow every commandment that comes along, and behave in a way that will be acceptable to whomever we think is watching and judging.

What’s truly paradoxical is that many commandments insist that you execute them in the most natural, authentic, and committed way possible. What a Catch-22! We must voluntarily and naturally do something we’ve been commanded to do!

It’s why (in my more humorous moods) I tell people that the best way to get published is to stop caring about getting published.

When you strive so hard and for so long, the whole reason you started writing in the first place—the real joy and motivation for it—gets completely lost. You’re so focused on the goal that you’ve forgotten the journey. You’ve forgotten to sing and dance, which is the secret of the wonderful and successful writer.

Yes, this is all very Zen. But I can’t think of a better philosophy for the writers seeking the best advice. You must, Joseph Campbell style, uncover the bliss in your writing life.

Unfortunately, most advice the experts offer (that includes me!) doesn’t help you take more joy. (Quite the contrary.) But joy is the one thing you have probably lost along the way, and didn’t realize was lost in the first place.

Go find it, and celebrate it daily.

Photo courtesy Flickr’s Waponi

About Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman is the co-founder and publisher of Scratch, a quarterly magazine focused on the intersection of writing and money. She teaches digital publishing and media at the University of Virginia and is a full-time publishing consultant. Find out more at her website.