I stare at the screen for a pretty darn long time. Stare some more until I start typing out a headline (which is usually the central idea I want to talk about) and expand further. But then, I just might erase something because my heart’s really not into writing about that particular topic.
That happened like half a dozen times before I started to write about this aspect of my covert life as a writer. It’s fascinating to know that our minds are exposed to a million things all through the day and we can’t even think of one single aspect that’s worth talking! Sad, but true. Isn’t that what happens to relationships? What do you do then? Small talk? Perhaps.
In my experience, small and meaningful conversations clear of any hidden agendas or opinions with a genuine intent to listen and communicate often does the trick. I guess that is precisely the way to break out of a writer’s block, which I don’t think exists. Yup. Even I won’t say it exists because if it did I wouldn’t be writing this right now.
Here’s what happens — stress (warranted or otherwise) causes our minds to wander aimlessly and literally ignore the world around us. The result is that we’re less closed to express ourselves and more open to criticising ourselves (in lines with, “heck, I don’t think I’ve got anything valuable to say!” or “I feel like crap, let me just postpone it for tomorrow.”). The result is that we procrastinate. You know what happens next. Don’t you?
Vince Lombardi said it the best, “once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.” So, how do you not quit? By showing up everyday. This blog is a testimony of someone who showed up everyday irrespective of how he felt or how the circumstances were. Sorry if that sounds self-serving but if I can’t acknowledge my own efforts no-one else will.
I once used to speak on a weekly basis, which is a hard things to do. There just isn’t enough time to research, develop, and practice new material. So, I started to gather content that interested me from Sunday through Thursday in Evernote. On Friday, I would take out a couple of hours just to go through them and come up with something interesting that connects to a universal theme such as a war, history, leadership, productivity, relationships etc. On Saturday, I would just stand and deliver something impromptu, which I thought people would gain value from. And I did that for over four years the result of which was I became good at thinking on the feet.
Another tactic that worked beautifully for me was to observer how I was feeling and journal my thoughts down. Come speech day, I would just express myself in a thoughtful organised manner making the speech more relatable and chock-full of value to everyone listening.
My philosophy was to not impress but express my thoughts, opinions and point-of-view with the audience. It was not polished but far from it. But the rawness of communication was genuine and came from the right place, my heart. I believe it’s okay to struggle a little and let everyone know. That’s what a lifelong journey is about — struggles, setbacks, learnings, progress, and repeat. If you’re not experiencing that, you’re probably not going anywhere.
Speaking of which, this post is so damn meta! I just shared what I had in mind when I get stuck. And now both you and I know it.
Do you have writer’s block? Go ahead and write it anyway!