“Advice from a HORSE” — this headline, emblazoned on a fire-engine red T-shirt, caught my eye at a friend’s store. Since horses loom large in my children’s novel, I bought it to inspire myself. When it cropped up recently, I began to ponder the gems of advice printed below a dashing, prancing stallion — and realized that they apply, not just to life, but to writing as well. Here’s what I mean:
“Take life’s hurdles in stride” — Always a good idea. We’re going to have good days and rough days, good times and hard times. We’re going to face thorny plot points, rejection, rebellious characters, and dry spells when nothing much seems to be happening. If we take whatever comes our way in stride, we’ll stay in the saddle.
“Loosen the reins” — When we hold the reins too tightly and try too hard, our creative juices often stop flowing. “Efforting” feels just like what it sounds like: effort. When we loosen our grip, we let go of our reliance on results and outcomes.
“Be free spirited” — Here’s my favorite Yogi teabag quote: “A relaxed mind is a creative mind.” When we’re free spirited, we’re alive to adventure, to fresh ideas, to new ways of thinking — and we can crack our stories wide open.
“Keep the burrs from under your saddle” — Little annoyances and distractions can irritate us and drain away our energy just when we really need it. So let’s take every opportunity to simplify our days and avoid frittering away priceless time.
“Carry your friends when they need it” — We may write alone, but we all need fellow travelers to help us find our way. So let’s “carry” each other. Let’s support and encourage and embolden and inspirit each other.
“Keep stable” — Let’s meet whatever comes our way with poise and equanimity. Let’s root ourselves into the earth like the trees that shade our world and nourish it.
When we’re well balanced, even the roughest wind won’t break us.
“Spur yourself onto greatness!” — Let’s spur ourselves and each other on! Let’s do more than expected. Let’s surpass ourselves. Let’s go for greatness — and write on!