December 6th, 2012
We’ve discussed why blogging is important here, but we haven’t really touched on one small problem: writing sucks sometimes (and always, for some). Even the most enthusiastic of writers knows that the process can be painful, stressful, and tedious. When a writer refuses to push through, it’s usually because they are suffering from a mysterious disease.
It’s called writer’s block.
And it’s a lot like cooties because it ain’t real. It’s a writer’s way of saying, “please excuse me, for I’m too lazy.” Leave it to a wordsmith to give it a less incriminating name.
Yes, challenges and frustration are naturally part of the whole thing. Inspiration deficits happen. But when you call these things “writer’s block” you tell yourself that this is something that will pass if you just give it time. It’s out of your control; you caught it like a virus.
People offer suggestions to cure this disease.
These are really wonderful things to do on a Sunday afternoon, but these “cures” are just other words to describe that thing writers do a lot: procrastinate. Leave it to a wordsmith.
What can be done? Just. Do. It.
I can only speak from my experiences, and for me, hitting that wall is about starting all wrong. If you’re trying to write something but you just aren’t feeling it, maybe you’re going at it wrong too. See if these help:
Writing is a way to express yourself. Without experiences, there’s nothing to express. You know how sometimes your favorite musician or artist will go a while without producing anything? And you just really want them to because you love them so much. Yeah, they were probably busy experiencing life so that they could create something real. I am a firm believer that writing is the product of a need to take those internalized experiences and lessons and communicate them. Without them, it’s just kind of empty. A tree with no roots.
The backbone, the seed, the nugget of awesomeness: the concept. Things without a concept can be good, but they don’t punch you right in the gut (that is what you want). A concept is like a blueprint. It’s that one important and intangible point you need to make, and everything around it is what helps materialize it. Any powerful piece of writing, music, visual art, advertisement, etc. begins with a concept.
Doesn’t being a faker feel terrible? I know that from experience. Don’t pretend to know a lot about something you know little about. When writing isn’t completely genuine, it’s highly detectable. In high school and college, teachers told us “write what you know,” (and you know what you experience—going back to my first point). I never really understood that or agreed with it until recently because I thought they were telling me not to take risks, not to grow. I was very wrong about that. Be honest with yourself, be honest with your readers. And that’s easy, because all you have to do is be who you are.
About what’s going on around and inside of you, not about your worth. A lot of people who do creative things quickly meet an irritating voice in their head that tells them what they are doing is not good enough and to start over. In my experiences, this voice is influenced by comparing myself to people that I admire, fear, failure to commit, and foolishness. Not good things. If you start an idea and you don’t like it, of course you shouldn’t waste your time. But there’s a big difference between not liking something and not feeling confident. Think critically about whether what you’re creating is honest and genuine, not whether it’s good enough.
If it’s honest, it’s more than good enough.
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