I’m a sucker for lists: Shopping lists. To-do lists. Idea lists.

So you might think I’d be gaga over lists about writing.

Everyone’s got one, it seems. They’re smart and clever, filled with points of view on what writers should do or not do, feel or not feel.

They often contain a nugget, or two, of insight or wit or encouragement, but lately they’ve been leaving me cold.

Like this weekend, when I read the list by Charles Bukowski, which contained this gem, titled so you want to be a writer:

if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.

And a few lines later:

if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.

I sit for hours. Often hunched, though I straighten my spine whenever I catch myself curved, comma-like, in space.

I search for words. Hunt them down. Beat the bushes and hope they’ll run out squawking.

I rewrite – again and again. That’s my process. Wasn’t his, but why should that matter to me?

Whatever we do – whether writing a book or starting a business or parenting a child – we are surrounded by advice. Much of it is generous and wise and amazing, but even the good stuff can distract us from the path that only we can take.

There is no magic list that will turn my drafts into literary genius. I don’t need to discover the most important thing, or the necessary thing, or the true and right way.

I just need to write, and rewrite, hunch and un-hunch.

And so I shall.