Your life must be witness to this impulse.

Illustration by Austin Kleon

In the early 1900s, Franz Kappus was an aspiring poet enrolled in military school when he wrote to Rainer Maria Rilke for writing advice. Rilke’s response turned into a six year correspondence, and spawned Letters to a Young Poet:

“ . . . ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must”, then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.”

Austin Kleon, the inspired artist-poet, cleverly illustrates Rilke's writing advice. See more here.