Writer's Block Is BS!
Writer’s block. Those dreaded two words have tortured many a creative soul. In fact, I would venture to say that there is nothing more threatening to anyone whose work or self-expression involves the creation of new content than the experience of being faced with a blank page and not being able to get something out.
Anyone who’s ever attempted to write a paper, a poem, a song, a proposal, a blog, a birthday card or a facebook status update has had the experience of sitting down to create and being confronted by that demon of not knowing what to say or not being able to come up with anything that they feel good about.
I’ve been writing songs for a little over a decade and building my career in music for the past six years. Two years ago, after being a loyal reader of this amazing blog called The Daily Love ;) , the opportunity arose for me to write my first ever blog and have it published by TDL. It was a dream come true and I was excited to share something inspiring with the TDL community.
To my surprise, my experience of writing my first ever blog was actually somewhat effortless. I set the intention to write a few days before I needed to submit it and set some time aside to make it happen. I was on my way home from a yoga class and the idea for what I wanted to write about came to me. By the time I got home, I could hardly type fast enough to keep up with the free flow of words.
I found it very unusual how easily the writing happened, especially when I compared the experience with the struggle that often goes into my songwriting. That’s when I realized and understood what was really going on. Despite my intention to write something great for TDL, the pressure I felt to create something special or groundbreaking was nothing in comparison to the pressure I put on myself when it came to making music. In my own mind, I thought: “This is my first blog, I’ll just do my best and whatever comes out will be great.” When I was writing songs, however, the inner voice was usually saying something like: “You better write something mind blowing or you’ll never have a successful career.” Talk about pressure and creative poison.
Since then, I’ve written a blog every week with very few exceptions. The truth is that as more and more people have come to read my writing, and as I’ve committed to coming up with something every week, the pressure has increased and the experience of effortlessness has sometimes evaded me. There are weeks where I resist, struggle and procrastinate until the very last minute, until I have no choice and no option but to disappoint, and then I get to it. No matter how many times I’ve successfully created, on those weeks, the looming fear of not being able to write something is always just around the corner threatening me with those two words. Not only that, but it’s worth noting that some of the blogs I’ve been least confident about have garnered the most attention and the ones I thought were the best have not always gotten the greatest response.
The reason I’m sharing all of this is three fold. First, so that you can see that even the consistently creative have to conquer the fear of writer’s block and slay those demons time and time again. Second, so I can impart the importance of creating for the fulfillment that comes from expressing versus being attached to the outcome or how our work will be received by others. Last and most importantly, I want to expose writer’s block for what it really is.
Writer’s block is BS. It’s a myth, a figment of our imagination. It’s nothing more than a ghost. Yup, writer’s block is just a monster in the closet.
When we look more closely, we can see that our experience of being stuck or not knowing what to write is really the direct result of our fear of not being good enough, of being judged, and ultimately, our fear of failure. All of which are heightened by the pressure we put on ourselves to be brilliant and dazzle with our work.
Seen in this light, the solution to writer’s block is very simple. Start by realizing that writer’s block doesn’t actually exist. It may have been a monster in your closet for a long time but it’s nothing more than your fear keeping you stuck in the dark room of creative paralysis. It’s time to turn the lights on, put your imagination to better use and allow it to actually create something that will empower you. It’s time to allow your full self-expression to make you feel good.
Another way of looking at writer’s block is to see all those fears and the inner voice that subjects us to them as a bully that tries to belittle our creativity. And a bully is often a highly insecure person projecting their fears onto others and attempting to keep them small so they don’t expose the bully’s own weakness.
The mere awareness that this internal battle has been happening will create the space for you to make a new choice and tune out that inner bully. If it helps, you can even give it a name, draw a caricature of it and laugh at that inner bully until it has no more power over you. Whenever you hear that bully taunting you, notice it, thank it for its input and make the choice to tune it out.
Then you’re in the clear to create and the clincher will be to take the pressure off yourself to create something monumental. Whatever you’re creating, give yourself permission to do it badly and you’ll be amazed at the results. Can you write a bad song? Or a bad poem? Can you share your voice and express your truth without worrying about what anyone will think of you?
The freedom this mindset will give you is the space to get the pen moving and the ideas flowing. You can refine and edit later.
And voila. Writer’s block exposed. Creativity restored. Life is good again.
Published by The Daily Love (July 14th, 2013)