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Hustle. Grind. A wrong message for writers

Hustle. Grind. A wrong message for writers

Don’t try.

This is a strange message in times when motivation hustlers make money with words like hustle and grind.

Motivation hustlers. Heard of them? You must have seen them in your YouTube feed.

Typically, the video starts off with a story. The hustler is standing on stage, telling a story. The story is about an event from his life (or her, although I have not come across female hustlers yet).

You obviously believe the story is real. Why would they let a guy on stage who lies to people about a story?

Anyways, the story will eventually lead to his (or her) incredible journey to finding success.

The secret.

Hustle. Grind. Sweat.

I won’t lie, the video is well-made and convincing. I would be lying if I said this videos didn’t give me an adrenaline boost after a few initial viewings.

And why not? In a directionless life, these videos sell a purpose. And writers arguably should understand the value of having purpose and meaning better than others.

So the video is good. It gives people a sense of direction.

What is the problem? Why am I degrading them by calling them hustlers?

An imperfect understanding of success

Hustle. Grind. These are basically words representing one key action: trying.

Motivation hustlers are basically telling you to keep trying. They want you to believe trying itself will make you successful.

This is an imperfect understanding of success. Rather than wading into areas I am not familiar with, I’ll speak about a school of though which mirrors the ‘hustle & grind’ philosophy.

If you are a writer, you’ve probably heard this: write something. Bad writing is better than a blank page.

This basically means you should exert yourself to sit down and write something.

To this, I will put up quotes from Saul Bellow and Charles Bukowski.

You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.

Saul Bellow

I would like you to think about this quote for a moment.

If you get up in the night to write something, you mean it. It is something that is coming out of you naturally. You are not trying or exerting yourself to write.

The words are a stream of consciousness coming straight from your creative soul.

And now, Bukowski.

unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

Charles Bukowski, So you want to be a writer

I encourage you to read the poem in full. Bukowski backs up Bellow’s quote.

The best stuff you write always comes naturally. If you force yourself to sit in front of your laptop, your work will always be subpar.

David Lynch talks about ideation and writing in a similar way. He refers to finding good ideas as a fishing expedition. You have to wait patiently, with your hook and sink ready. The fish will come, but not if you keep huffing and puffing.

The hustle and grind culture has spilled into writing after creating idiots out of many young people. I personally know friends (plural) who left stable jobs because a motivation hustler made them believe they could be the next Steve Jobs.

And they could. I am not stamping on anyone’s desire to become successful.

But if your entire plan is to hustle and grind your way to the top, you will fail. You need a plan, a purpose. This is the part motivation hustlers leave out.

They sell you to the top of the mountain, but never give you an insight into the treacherous path you’ll have to walk.

Too many writers are being sold the same wares. Writing a novel or a short story is a very creative process. You are more likely to butcher your characters and story by grinding your story out.

Don’t try. Let it come.

I’ll let Bukowski finish it off:

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

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