I found myself sitting at the kitchen table with my laptop opened and the file for the book I’m working on open. I was ready to write. The time was mine, free to do whatever I wanted, and getting a chapter done in the book was first on my list. As I began to write the first few words, I came to a blank. Stuck, writer’s block, uninspired, and trapped by resistance. I was lost for words. The clock was ticking and the time I had set aside to write was almost over. This happens a lot when you sit down to write. You have these ideas you want to put into words on the screen or page and then magically, you blank. Frozen with stage fright.
Some awesome writing coaches and authors have said this is fear and some have said it’s a lack of preparation, and some say it’s self doubt. In my adventures of writing, I’ve come to see it as a failure to prepare. I can’t just sit down and write something useful. It never works well. I’ll sit, open facebook or twitter or Hackettstown Life and lose myself in boring and useless bullshit. Looking back over the moments in time when I was infected with writer’s block, I see now that I was not ready, or willing, to do the work.
Writing is hard. Making videos is hard. Preparing a speech is hard and we often feel like we lack creativity or that we’re too boring for dramatic art. What are we missing? Why is this so hard for so many people to do?
Practice. As I write this I am replaying the famous Allen Iverson interview where he was talking about practice and how he was too good to practice. Maybe he was good enough to not practice, but me, and probably you, we need practice. The easiest way to find creativity and fight fear is to practice. When I am stuck with finding something to write about, I read instead. Pretending to be in the authors shoes. Reading what I was imagining I once wrote. Putting myself in their shoes as they sat at their desk or table at the local Starbuck’s. This makes me feel like a real writer. As if I wrote something famous and had it published by a major company and made the bestsellers list. This practice releases glimpses of creativity and being aware of those thoughts and ideas is important. When a flash of inspiration from the almighty muse appears in the conscious, I grab it and let it flow. Whatever happens, happens. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a good blog post, article, chapter in my book, or a new project itself, or just practice.
I set a timer online for 10 or 15 minutes and I write. It doesn’t matter what the practice is about, I just write. I keep a file on my computer of these practice sessions and sometimes I pick up where I left off the last time. One moment of practice I can find myself writing about Fred, the pot smoking lazy fat ass cat and the next moment of practice I can find myself writing about the deepest and truest feelings of my higher self. Sometimes, the practice is good enough to continue until it’s a decent blog post or article.
The key to unlocking your creativity is to practice. It also helps to get the mind flowing before you even sit to practice. You can do some burpees, cut the lawn, clean the sink, walk backwards for a few minutes, meditate, or draw. You can read a new book, an old book, a magazine or newspaper. Sometimes I circle the table five to ten times and then sit and begin writing about the wall in front of me. The white paint, aging, in need of new paint with a hanging vintage farm sign looks back at me pretending to be the truth. In front of the wall, on the tile floor, is an old porcelain top cabinet with scraped paint, also in need of a paint job. On top of the cabinet that was a hand me down my wife’s parents sits our bills or random tools or hand creams and hair ties. Next to the cabinet is a baker’s rake with our keurig machine and toaster, with some bowls and beaver looking stuffed animal.
Just like that the mind is flowing with thoughts and the words begin molding into complete sentences. For someone who blogs or wants to write articles about their business, this is where we stop. Fear sets in. We think about the article we’re writing and whether or not we truly know what we’re talking about. We fear criticism or coming to halt halfway through the project not knowing how to continue. We think about the facts of the stories or ideas we’re writing about and then, we feel the opinions of others crush us. Problem is, most of those opinions are self created, made up by the ego. Fight fear by comforting the ego. When you’re saying “I want to write this and tell the world how I feel.” the ego is saying “Nah bro. That is crazy and people will fact check you or slam their opinions in your face. Better delete this and try again.”
Practice is practice and you write without taking sides. Write the most outlandish opinions or deepest secrets and then throw it away. Who cares? Just write. As you begin to practice more and more, you find creativity coming easier and you find yourself not caring too much about the hecklers. This goes for anything we do. CrossFit athletes fail everyday but keep practicing. Gymnasts fail and fall during competition and they fear doing so. It’s upsetting. It makes you want to cry. You don’t want to be laughed at. But we do it anyway because it comes from the heart or the gut or the higher self as expression of who we are. Never mind what others think. Make your art.