Cultivating Wonder

Today I’m listening to I Need Never Get Old by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, on repeat, and loudly.

It makes me wriggle around in my seat like a happy little kid. I can highly recommend it for the days you’re feeling like a bit of a grouch and for the life of you just can’t find the energy to do the damn thing.

After a few too many days in the past year where this has been the case, I’ve decided, maybe belatedly, to spend a little time each day cultivating joy and wonder.

In my world, joy and wonder are success KPIs.

If a day goes by without a burst of joy and gratitude for how good I’ve got it, I haven’t used that day right. And a day without wonder — that’s one of the saddest phrases I’ve ever written, not to mention an egregious waste.

Joy and wonder have a magical, alchemical way of combining to create curiosity and energy and inspiration.

(And while I do believe that inspiration tends to show up as a result of discipline and practice, there are some days when the words will not come no matter how hard you white-knuckle it.)

Sometimes you just need to have some fun.

The best work you’ll ever do comes along when something has sparked your imagination, when you’ve been away from your desk and utterly immersed and present in something else, when you’ve laughed so hard that your abs start to cramp.

The human brain thrives on novelty. It’s non-negotiable. You need to make room in your schedule for fun and spontaneity as much as you need to pin down specific times to work.

For writers, this is mission-critical.

You don’t become a great writer by staring at the blank wall in front of your desk.

You become a great writer by throwing yourself into the fray of life, by getting out and getting dirty, exploring, experimenting, searching and striving.

So if you’re feeling stuck today, slow and sluggish in your writing, rebel a little! Get away from your computer. Give yourself permission to go find some fun.

Walk yourself over to a new neighbourhood, if restrictions allow. Watch some stand-up. Get a copy of The Body: A Guide For Occupants by Bill Bryson and relinquish a few hours to wonder.

Your work will be much better for it. You’ll have more energy tomorrow. You’ll have a brain wave about how to unravel than intractable chunk that you just haven’t been able to figure out.

And you can chalk today up as a 100% success on your joy and wonder KPIs.