Some say there’s no such thing as “writer’s block.”
Those of us who are committed to and have a real, personal stake in our writing know better.
I attribute writer’s block to Resistance
The sooner you acknowledge and agree (with yourself) on a plan to manage Resistance, the sooner you will see breakthroughs in your writing. The kind of breakthroughs you can expect to experience via consistent Resistance management are:
- A sense of deep accomplishment and confidence that only comes from acting on something important to you.
- A living, breathing audience who hangs on your every word. Okay, not at first. The more willing you are to PUBLICLY write in your voice, develop your point of view, and help people solve their problems, the more your audience will take you seriously. And eventually hang on your every word.
- Deep joy and satisfaction through writing from your story. Even though your story is not about you.
Easier said than done. Writing takes Drive. Discipline. Dedication. Enviable attributes that, on too many occasions in my own life, I convinced myself I didn’t have.
I have drive, discipline and dedication IN SPADES. So do you. Chances are you’ve been in business for awhile and are already successful. You just wish the pesky writing Resistance would exit your life. Forever.
Here’s What To Do
1. Admit you have a problem.
Because you do. It’s the universal, human problem that surfaces when we’ve committed to something important. I recently heard Seth Godin give a talk. He talked about exactly this: Resistance:
. . . we cannot defeat the voice in our head. When the fear shows up, we cannot make it go away. If you try to drown it out . . . it’s not going to work. What works is dancing with it. What works is welcoming the fear into your life, and saying ‘thank you for letting me know I’m onto something, let’s dance about this.’ Because when the Resistance, the lizard brain starts to freak, and you persist knowing it’s still going to freak, it will lose its enthusiasm. It will realize it can’t shortcut you. People are constantly looking for reassurance. People want to constantly be told everything will be okay. They’re trying to make the fear go away. And the right thing to say to that person is ‘you’re right, it’s probably not going to work. It’s entirely possible that you will get onstage and your slides will fail, and people will laugh at you, and the speech won’t work. But the fact that that voice is in your head means you are about to do something important. Not about to jump off a building, that’s dangerous. You’re about to do something important. So dance with it. And look for it . . . . what I want to do with my work is find a place where it’s scary. And dance with that fear.
2. Get uncomfortable
When I first started training for triathlon in 2007, I had no idea what it felt like to be uncomfortable in a way that would eventually remodel my body, mind and spirit. Yup, it was that profound. It was also Painful. Humbling. Terrifying.
Writing in a way that advances your goals, that sets you apart because you stand for something, is uncomfortable. At times terrifying. Definitely humbling. Painful. That’s how you know you’re onto to something great. The right kind of “uncomfortable” builds you up. In fact, I would argue it’s the only way to build up.
3. Get Support
Any writing system needs to include these three elements*:
*Depending on your subject matter and who you’re writing for, you’ll at times include research as a first step.
A simple system. Not always easy.
As with anything that you really want, that you’ve committed to managing Resistance against, that you’re willing to get uncomfortable for, you need support. The great thing about this is that support can take any form imaginable.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Accountability: texting or emailing a friend that my writing for the day is DONE
- Feedback: Sending the most important (or scary) pieces to a colleague for feedback before hitting publish
- Commitment: Committing publicly to a writing goal and following through (which means you publish)
The importance of support cannot be underestimated! Get it. Now.