I'm about to work on a story I have due this week, and to get me in the spirit I just re-read the first chapter of Brenda Ueland's If You Want to Write, published in 1938. The book is more of a writing manifesto then a book of technical help. It's lively and passionate and funny. Whether you write or paint or sing or bake cakes, whatever it is you do, Ueland can tell you a thing or two about doing it with gusto.
from If You Want to Write
I have been writing a long time and have learned some things, not only from my own long hard work, but from a writing class I had for three years. In this class were all kinds of people: prosperous and poor, stenographers, housewives, salesmen, cultivated people and little servant girls who had never been to high school, timid people and bold ones, slow and quick ones.
This is what I learned: that everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.
Everybody is talented because everybody who is human has something to express. Try not expressing anything for twenty-four hours and see what happens. You will nearly burst. You will want to write a long letter or draw a picture or sing, or make a dress or a garden. Religious men used to go into the wilderness and impose silence on themselves, but it was so that they would talk to God and nobody else. But they express something: that is to say they had thoughts welling up in them and the thoughts went out to someone, whether silently or aloud.
Writing or painting is putting these thoughts on paper. Music is singing them. That is all there is to it.
Everybody is original, if he tells the truth, if he speaks from himself. But it must be from his true self and not from the self he thinks he should be. Jennings at Johns Hopkins, who knows more about heredity and the genes and chromosomes than any man in the world, says that no individual is exactly like any other individual, that no two identical persons have ever existed. Consequently, if you speak or write from yourself you cannot help being original.
So remember these two things: you are talented and you are original. Be sure of that. I say this because self-trust is one of the very most important things in writing.
You must practice not perfunctorily, but with all your intelligence and love... A great musician once told me that one should never play a single note without hearing it, feeling that it is true, thinking it beautiful.
And so now you will begin to work at your writing. Remember these things. Work with all your intelligence and love. Work freely and rollickingly as though they were talking to a friend who loves you. Mentally (at least three or four times a day) thumb your nose at all know-it-alls, jeerers, critics, doubters.