Let Your Record Stand: 5 Ways To Show Up For Your Art.


The art of writing is not for the fainthearted.

To write well — to write something worth a damn — you have to be able to see yourself as Creator. This may sound easy to the novice, but there is a prerequisite to this capacity, and it is not a thought, a mixed metaphor or a degree. It is an utter dismantling of everything you think you are.

We are all Frankenstein’s monsters: every one of us.

Do you know who and what has put you together? Do you know whose eyes you see through? Whose hands caress your lover in the dark? In whose footsteps are you marching? To whose gut are you listening? From where do the words you speak come?

You have been assembling yourself since the dawn of creation, and you have forgotten the origins of your parts. It is, in fact, probable that you have forgotten you have parts at all.

Are you ready for this? Are you ready to meet your demons, your ancestors, the mysterious ghosts that roam the hallways of you? Are you prepared to do the math of ages, to root out the lies you live by and redeem them in print? Can you menstruate on paper? Would you tell your deepest secrets only to discover they are but a label on the lid of a box that has no bottom? As you write, you will resurrect everything from which you have been running. Can you look yourself in the eye?

Good. This is the beginning of greatness. This is the first step to becoming a writer. You are about to get the best education of your life, and you, dear friend, are the teacher. You are not just constructing a story; you are changing the world: your world, and really, what other world is there?

Your story is the story of all of us. As you reveal the stitching of your sewn-on fingertip, the welding of your elbow, the pins in your knee that makes it bend, you free us all.

Are you crying? Put some fucking pigment in your tears so we can cry too. Everything about you — holy and unholy — is glorious, mysterious, unmapped and unconquered. What is more sacred in a time in which even the elements have been bridled than the wild terrain of your inner life? May your courage remind us all that we have not been defeated.

Your story is your gift to a world gone insane. What is true — no matter how relative — is a soothing balm to the spirits of all living things. Reveal your purpose to yourself, and let your record stand.

What the eff is stopping you? Your story is important and you owe it to yourself and the world to tell it. Hell, you owe it to whatever, or whoever, put you here on this tiny crowded planet. You owe it to the trees, to the rivers, to the children. You owe it to the ticking clock that counts you down to sleep.

Easier said than done, you say? Here are a few pointers to get your fires burning:


1. Ditch the shame.

“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

Write your way through it. Where did it come from anyway? Under whose authority do you cower and hide from yourself and the world? Do you really believe that hiding what you are — which is what we all are — keeps the world in balance?

The old powers want you to hide. They are invested in your hiding, your cringing, your shame. They do not need to put iron shackles around your wrists and ankles. The shackles are inside you, and the slave-masters of the world are betting on your refusal to believe in something you cannot see with your eyes or touch with your fingertips.

No, you cannot touch it, but you can feel it. And you do. You feel it every day. Every time you smear a breast-cancer causing deodorant on so you do not smell human, you feel it. Every time you give it up when you do not want to, you feel it. Every time you put on sensible slacks and a turtleneck sweater and sit in traffic when you really want to wear stilettos shaped like guns and fishnets while you lounge at a bar in Maui, you feel it.

Stop feeling it, and write it.


2. Kick your inner critic’s ass.

“How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

Whose voice is that, in you, which says “you must not”, “you cannot” and “you should not”? Do you think that voice is yours? Do you think that voice protects you from chasing the red ball into oncoming traffic? Are you six? Are you really satisfied living in a playpen with the same toys you had since 1985, ’65, ’72?

They are hand-me-downs from your parents, and their parents. They are government cheese and GMO corn puffs in a plain white box with no decoder ring inside. Are you going to eat that shit? If you are, then you cannot make art. Write that dick a letter on pink paper and send his dumb ass to the unemployment line. You have work to do.


3. Stop making it all about you.

“Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely essential.”

~ Jessamyn West

What makes you so freaking special? Do you think you are the only one who ever worked her way through college digging sharp spiked heels into a man’s back for money? Do you think you are the only atheist who ever prayed for death after your lover left you over a text message? Are you the only mother who ever thought — even for a second — of tossing her kid out the window when he would not stop screaming over a blue phallic-shaped Kool-Aid pop?

Well, guess what? There are millions of other people who think they are the only ones too because no one has the guts to let it all hang out. They did not have the courage to show up for work — the real work: the art of being human, together. But you do. I know it.

You are only the sculptor, the painter, the story-teller sitting by the fire. The material of your life — right down to your flesh — is collective; you gathered it from the ground and it never belonged to you. You were chosen — for whatever reason — to get dirty and wet, to ruin your clothes and singe your hair near the kiln. It is your art (life), but the materials you use to create it are borrowed, and it does not matter what your medium is. The profundity of your very existence is enough material to work with for an entire lifetime.

If you think your life is ordinary, then you do not know who you are. If you think there is no meaning in cutting the crusts off the bread, then you do not understand life. If you believe anything is random — anything at all — then you are squandering your opportunity. There is always meaning. There is always gold, but it is deep, deep in the belly of the world.


4. Call ‘em out.

“If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” ~ Anne Lamott

Are you going to let them get away with that shit? Are you going to hold it in your body until it becomes acid in your joints and deforms your pointing finger into a gnarled branch? Are you going to let the toxins of perpetrators past float in your blood until your liver and kidneys give up trying and you turn yellow, or need a cold dead machine to keep you alive?

What are you doing to us? The world depends upon the visionaries, the schizos, the grateful broken, the multiples, the alchemical brilliance of lead into gold. Do not let them poison you. Bleed it out.

Call out that motherfucker who put a roofie in your drink, even if it was the school nurse, the shrink, your brother’s best friend. Call out the parents who could not see you, who tried to fix you, who shaved off your beautiful jagged edges so you would fit into a box, ‘for your own good’. Call out the bitchy snarling woman coming out of the salon in the Hamptons who visibly disapproved of your tutu and combat boots.

They were afraid of you. Every one of them. And with good reason. Unleash yourself. Use your wounds to heal us all. We are counting on you.


5. Embrace danger.

“Find what you love and let it kill you.” ~ Charles Bukowski

Dance with him. Snatch that red rose from his lapel — recklessly — and bleed. How else will you know what is inside you? You cannot avoid pain without avoiding the sweet scent of velvety rose petals on your skin.

You can dump it in a river, or hide it under a rock until it splits the ground beneath your feet and you fall forever. You can put it in a box and jump on it until it is compressed into a hard lump that appears behind an organ you never think about; but you cannot run forever. Eventually, you will have to choose, you will have to fight, and you will have to surrender to fate. Why not do it now?

Why not wrap your legs around the neck of the beast and poke his eyes out with your tiny dagger? Why not gaze deeply into the flame and, at the risk of burning your retinas, find out what makes fire burn? Why not sling yourself wildly into the seventh circle of your own private hell — screaming your war cry, sword in hand — instead of waiting for the dark armies to come and take you, bound and helpless, in the night? You are the kind of hero great men have written about for ages of human time.

And it is time.




More Writing Love: 

>> Jack Kerouac’s 30 keys to life & writing.

>> Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 essentials for a good, short story.

>> 11 tips & tricks for troubled writers.


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Alison Nappi

Alison Nappi

Writer, Catalyst, Coach at Write with Spirit
Alison Nappi is an esoteric writing coach, writer, seminar leader and founder of Write with Spirit. She has earned her B.A. in English with an emphasis in creative writing and a minor in communication. With professional experience as a ghost writer, copy writer, editor and proofreader, Alison is well equipped for living the creative life. Like Alison on Facebook or send an email to be added to her mailing list. Learn more or get coaching on Alison's website: Write with Spirit.


  • Valerie Gangas
    Valerie C. Gangas commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
    This is one of the best pieces I have ever read. B-R-A-V-O.
  • Andrea Balt
    Andrea Balt commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
    I second Valerie. Just WOW. Morning overdose of brilliancy & inspiration. Clapped & almost spilled my tea over the keyboard. Thank you!
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Linn Nappi commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
      Andrea, I giggled with delight upon reading your comment. We should have a tea party: I’ll be Alice, and you can be the Mad Hatter. We could talk about all the impossible things we believe in. Cheerio!
  • Tracy Wisneski
    Tracy Wisneski commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
    I am filled with bloodlust from this earth-moving battle cry. Wow!
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Linn Nappi commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
      The good news, Tracy, is you can’t lose! Viva!!
      • Tracy Wisneski
        Tracy Wisneski commented on June 19, 2013 Reply
        Taking that to the bank! ;)
  • Alison Nappi
    Alison Linn Nappi commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
    Thank you, Valerie! I feel your words sparking in the soles of my feet.
  • Carolyn Riker
    Carolyn Riker commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
    Brilliant! Stellar. Radiant. Motivating. Breathe, sip coffee and set forth my writing intentions!!! Thank you. Just what I needed to keep the embers glowing.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Linn Nappi commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
      May your embers ignite into full flame and may the Divine Muse show you your own brilliance every day, Carolyn! Thank you for your support!
  • SR Atchley
    sratchley commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
    Holy hell, bat woman! This is amazing. I have no more excuses after reading this. THANK YOU!
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Linn Nappi commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
      That’s art, Scratchley: bringing the holy into the hell, transforming in the fire. We need you, girl! Write on!
  • Victoria Erickson commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
    YES!!!! I’m applauding your brilliant writing and kick in the ass. F-ck yes.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Linn Nappi commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
      I’m always surprised by how many people enjoy being kicked in the ass. I thought it was my own personal masochism, living with my inner Dominatrix, but as it turns out the world is full of masochistic artists. Now I just need the boots to match!
  • Liz Kelly Zook commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
    Fuck yes, Alison! And I love your hair!
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Linn Nappi commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
      Thank you. I think it’s important to live out all that you are, even if part of you is an old witch with purple hair, or a platinum-haired fairy granting wishes.
  • Rebekah commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
    I really needed to read this today. And should be reminded of it every day from here on out. Thank you dearest.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Linn Nappi commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
      Thank you for supporting my work and this awesome site, Rebekah!
  • Lucie commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
    That was A-mazing!!! I am still at a catch of my breath. Totally and utterly mind-blowing to the last full stop. THAT is how it is supposed to be done. Thank you for letting that fresh air in. Excuse is no longer in anyone’s dictionary, I dare to say!!! :-) Thank you, thank you, thanking you a gazillion times over!!
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Linn Nappi commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
      To make art, is to ride the wind. I’m so glad to hear that you felt it in your breath. If you follow it backwards, follow it into yourself you’ll meet your own spinning and divine, glorious breathy storm. I can’t wait to hear more about it! Thank you for lending your kind words to my day!
  • Renee commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
    YESSSS! I hear your voice in every syllable– Burning Beauty– Your Truth! You inspire me :))) What a wonderful birth…❤
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Linn Nappi commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
      Thank you, Renee, for your ever-present compassion and support!
  • Asifa commented on June 6, 2013 Reply
    Oh wow!!! Just wow!
  • Success Secrets of Confident Women commented on June 6, 2013 Reply
    Ditto! At long last a like-minded soul speaking Her truth! Great and essential writing, thankyou Alison! Sxx
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Linn Nappi commented on June 6, 2013 Reply
      It’s so wonderful to hear from other kindred spirits like you! Thank you for supporting my work!
  • sensualshaman commented on June 6, 2013 Reply
    One of the greatest pieces of writing I have ever read. Thank you thank you thank you.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Linn Nappi commented on June 6, 2013 Reply
      What an amazing compliment! Thank you so much for reading!
  • Naomi commented on June 8, 2013 Reply
    Ah…this is food for the deep where passion lies smoldering, waiting for oxygen-rich moments to solo-dance real-life rhythm.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on June 23, 2013 Reply
      Speaking of rhythm, Naomi, yours is beautiful! So glad to have readers like you!
  • Dianna commented on June 9, 2013 Reply
    So amazing Alison. How lovely to find this piece just as I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself and succumbing to that damn inner critic! I am not 6! Thank you for the kick in the a** xx
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on June 23, 2013 Reply
      A kick in the ass, with love! And, you’re very welcome!
  • Linda Smith commented on June 23, 2013 Reply
    I am breathless, speechless, called out from my tidy denial of passion. I have to read this post again, and again, and again.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on June 23, 2013 Reply
      Thank you so much for engaging with the work so fully, openly, vulnerably! I’m so grateful for your readership!
  • Millo commented on July 21, 2013 Reply
    fucking beautiful.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on August 15, 2013 Reply
      One of my favorite kinds of beautiful. Thanks!
  • John Wiggin commented on July 28, 2013 Reply
    Spring keeps her promises no cold can hold her back. This is how you are remembered. According Natalie M, least I think she was speaking of you.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on August 15, 2013 Reply
      Oh, how wonderful! Thank you for reading!
  • Christina Dunbar commented on September 13, 2013 Reply
    Allison, you are my people! Fucking. Love. Your. Post.
    • Christina Dunbar commented on September 13, 2013 Reply
      Got so excited I spelled your name with two “L’s”….
  • eidos6 commented on September 15, 2013 Reply
    One of the best rallying cries for writers I’ve seen on this site, but I liked reading your author bio even more, because it sheds light on the article in really thought-provoking ways. Thanks for sharing!
  • Victoria Dortzbach commented on September 22, 2013 Reply
    This just made me laugh. and cry. Thank you.
  • Clarissa Vaz de Magalhães commented on October 1, 2013 Reply
    Thank you! I needed this!
  • Lisa Foote commented on December 12, 2013 Reply
    Thank you. That’s all. :)
  • Rajat Mishra commented on December 13, 2013 Reply
    Words cannot express how much I liked it. Thank you Alison! Mantra to disapprove the commands of sick society
  • Faith commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    I’m not a writer, I’m an artist. I paint but this is truly a good thing to remember when I paint. I am held back by myself sometimes, only I can free me. Thank you for writing this. Faith
  • Yentl De Luna commented on April 25, 2014 Reply
    Reading this has made me feel liberated. I thank you!!
  • BrujaHa commented on May 1, 2014 Reply
    Ululate it, girl! I love the raw power you roar for here, wild sister.
  • Julia commented on September 15, 2014 Reply
    I love it when something that I’m reading makes my eyes treasure every letter. I could live in those little spaces.
  • Amy Simpkins commented on January 13, 2015 Reply
    This is the most gorgeous, compelling, convicting thing I have ever read.
  • Priya Desikan commented on January 21, 2015 Reply
    Wow! This has really fired me up! Thanks a ton!
  • jemima commented on January 27, 2015 Reply
    oh thank you glorious girl – i just was gasping for this today – I laughed aloud at the Anne Lamott quote, so fucking true. Love and gratitude to you and keep it up YES! xxx
  • Cristian commented on February 3, 2015 Reply
    thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! we are beyond thrleild!the LOVE print and the Rubie Green fabric on the chair were the inspiration for the photo…and we love how you can buy both the print and the fabric from fellow amazing bloggers! i’m so pleased and surprised that you posted this!!xoxo alisonfaire frou frou
  • Veroxian commented on February 3, 2015 Reply
    Oh I love it! I want one tooo so bad Jen. I even bought a frame. I was at Ikea with hubby looikng on your site from my phone and found out which frame to get. THANKS FOR THAT INFO, you just dont know how that helped…My only issue is color!
  • Ulli Stanway
    Ulli commented on April 23, 2015 Reply
    This is epic, I love it so much! Wow. I am totally speechless. Thank you so much for kicking my/our ass. My god. That was needed. Lady, you are brilliant! And now I have to go off in my tutu and combat boots …<3
  • Tora commented on June 3, 2015 Reply
    This was so beautiful and the kick in the ass I need thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Rhiannon commented on June 17, 2015 Reply

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