To do or not to do—Hamlet, Yoda, and writing

Yoda—the anthropomorphic turtle/Buddha from the Star Wars movies–offered a great kick-in-the-pants for writers. And, okay, Luke Skywalker too. Yoda said:

“Do. Or do not. There is no ‘try.'”

If you find yourself saying things like, “I have this idea for what I want to write—I’ve had it for a long time—but—” it doesn’t really matter how that sentence ends.

I don’t believe you’ll ever do it. And, honestly, I don’t believe you do, either.

“But” what?

You know how to write. You’ve probably been doing it since at least the first grade, forming squiggles into words. So write.

Don’t create a project so complex that you need a Ph.D. before thinking about starting. Don’t make excuses about software or hardware. Nothing to write on? Grab a pencil and the nearest roll of paper towels. Just start making those word-squiggles. Do it. No excuses.

Yoda would have hated Hamlet

I’ve been at least half in love with Hamlet, that melancholy prince, ever since I read Shakespeare’s play in high school. But if I met the guy IRL—”in real life,” as the kids have probably already stopped texting—I would shake him by the shoulders and scream, “Decide, already!”

I think Yoda would have yelled at him, too: “Be. Or not be. There is no question.”

Life’s too short for indecision. Decide what you want to do and do it. Decide what you don’t want to do and—here’s a shock—don’t do it. What’s so hard about that?

Okay, I’ll give Hamlet a break: Deciding whether you’re going to kill your uncle may not be quite as easy as “Steak or Italian tonight?” But deciding to write? It’s a no-brainer. Especially if you’ve made a commitment to do it.

  • mindset
  • writing