I used to think writers block was real. Like a real solid thing. Something that was as real as you and I, like a person.
I used to blame this ‘Mr / Mrs Writer’s Block’ for being the reason for why I could not write.
Then one day I decided to look deeper into these unwelcome guests and determine why they kept me from writing. What was this block? Who was this block?
I wanted to break this big block down into smaller blocks. And then eventually break it down even further until it was no longer a block.
And that’s when I discovered the truth. The truth that writer’s block is a myth.
Yes, it’s a mental construct we build in our heads to prevent us from writing. Or in other words, its Fear. And what does fear come down to?
For those of you who have already read Steven Pressfield’s ‘The War of Art’, he talks about how Resistance (with a capital R) is what stands in the way of what you want.
Resistance sometimes dresses itself up in a number of guises such as perfectionism, fear, procrastination, guilt. It will morph into anything it wants, as long as it stops you from doing the thing you really want to be doing. In my case, that’s writing.
I spent years telling myself that I was not ready to write. That I needed my circumstances to change. That the weather had to be a particular temperate. You get my drift. I was basically full of bullsh*t excuses.
So I bit the bullet and just decided to write one day. I took a 20 minute break during my lunch hour (whilst I was in the corporate world), sat down sat and promised myself I would not get up until I had written something down. These were the rules I gave myself:
- Sit for 20 mins.
- Write anything for 20 mins.
- You DO NOT have the right to get up until those 20 minutes are up.
I sat in utter terror for the first 9 minutes (yes I actually timed it all as I was doing everything I could to NOT be writing). I just didn’t know what to write. What to do. All I knew was that I had a pen and notebook and needed to write something. In fact I felt utterly terrified. Terrified I would write rubbish.
But what I didn’t realise at the time was that its ok to write rubbish. First draft material is meant to be rubbish. That’s the rule! No one writes amazingly well written polished prose and perfectly edited sentences on the first attempt (especially if you are new to the game).
Come on! Give yourself a break!
Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to get it right the first time around?
I checked my watch, I had 11 minutes left.
‘Ok’ I said ‘lets do this’.
Then I doodled for 3 minutes. I drew some pretty interesting square patterns. Then I started to shade in the squares I had drawn.
6 minutes left.
Ok I really need to write something.
And that’s when it hit me. I could write ANYTHING I wanted to write. This was my time. My writing. My words.
So then I started to write down the reasons for why I don’t write and the words started to pour out. I wrote about 100 words in those last 5 minutes and felt like the words were flowing out of me (after that period of brain constipation).
But when my timer hit 20 minutes and set off the alarm, I dropped my pen like a hot potato and closed my notebook. I was now too terrified to read the crap I had just written
But I had written. I had faced the horrors of the blank page with my pen. I had beaten the fear for that day. I had won.
Writers block is a label we apply to something we don’t really want to tackle. There are no blocks in life. It’s only our perception that there is a block. So ask yourself if you are not writing, WHY are you not writing? List your excuses down (yes they ARE excuses).
I blamed my lack of writing on the fact I had a stressful day job, lack of time and other reasons I could think of. Heck I even blamed other people for why I was not writing.
Beating writers block is simple. You just have to proclaim to yourself that you will write every day come rain or shine. You will sit and write for a specified amount of time and just write.
Yes it will be hard because writing IS hard.
Yes it will be difficult because writing is meant to be difficult. When you learn something new its always going to be difficult to begin with. Thats the way the game works. But the beauty of this is that it will get easier with time IF you start today.
And yes you will suck at it at first.
Get over it. You will get better in time. So just start.
Will you start today? Go ahead and write a little something in the comments below. Perhaps write ‘i’m in!’ Publicly declare you will start writing and building your business today. Go for it!