Sometimes it’s surprising where we find wisdom. One of my most profound life lessons didn’t come from scaling to the top of a mountain to hear from an ancient guru. It didn’t come from a doctor, a pastor, a philosopher or professor. It didn’t even come in some quiet moment of deep reflection. It came while I was folding laundry as my young child watched television.
It came from Sesame Street.
I see your virtual eyerolls. I realize it sounds absurd, and you may be seconds away from clicking out of this blog post, but please hear me out. I promise this applies to writing.
Allow me to set the scene. Mr. Hoots the Owl is warming up with his jazz band on a set of risers. He tells us that his very cool friend, Ernie (yes, one half of Bert and Ernie) has a problem that he wants to “lay on us.”
Ernie wants to play the saxophone, but everytime he does, he hears a squeaking noise. Ernie proceeds to show us by playing. Sure enough, a loud squeaking occurs.
Mr. Hoots spots the problem right away. Ernie is trying to play while holding a rubber duckie in his hand.
“You’ve got to put down the duckie, if you want to play the saxophone,” our wise owl-friend says. Or sings. After all, this is Sesame Street.
Ernie doesn’t seem to hear the advice and continues his attempt to play while holding the duckie. A montage of celebrities begin to tell-sing him to “put down the duckie.” The audience endures an entire song’s worth of a melody that will never leave your brain. Ever.
Finally, he gets it, and tosses the duckie aside, so he can do what he desires…play the saxophone.
Yes, this lesson (meant for children) got me thinking. It got me thinking about my writing.
I honestly think Mr. Hoots would make a good writing coach. He gets to the heart of the matter and lays it out with a very simple concept.
Put down the BLANK if you want to BLANK.
It could actually apply to any area of life: Put down the cheeseburger if you want to lose weight.
Put down the phone if you want to enjoy quality time with others. Put down the remote if you want to study the Bible.
These are the tangible, saxophone-type things. In truth, there are intangible things that need to be put down, too.
Put down the negative attitude if you want to work well with others.
Put down the unforgiveness if you want to be forgiven.
Put down the worry if you want to have peace.
There are many intangibles we need to put down if we want to be a writer, too. (Okay, and maybe a remote from time to time.)
Put down the excuses if you want to be a writer:
“I have writer’s block.”
“I don’t have time to write with work, family, or responsibilities.”
Put down the fears if you want to become a writer:
“I don’t have the education, the experience, the know-how.”
“I’m not as talented as others.”
Put down the avoidance if you want to become a writer. Stop filling your day with so many activities that you never even glance at a keyboard or notebook and pen.
Write. Just write.
Apparently it’s the only way to keep an owl-led jazz band and a wide array of celebrities happy.
And it’s the only way to be a writer.