“Every sentence is a wispy net, capturing a few flecks of meaning. The sun shines without vocabulary. The salmon has no name for the urge that drives it upstream. The newborn groping for the nipple knows hunger long before it knows a single word. Even with an entire dictionary in one’s head, one eventually comes to the end of words. Then what? Then drink deep like the baby, swim like the salmon, burn like any brief star.”
The key to achieving anything is not necessarily maintaining that excitement but pushing through all the CRAP (criticism, rejection, assholes, and pressure) and maintaining a beginner’s mindset.
Of course, you’re likely to lose interest, energy, and emotional support from family and friends along the way. That’s why it’s equally important to have a vision of where you want to go and what you’d like to accomplish. Developing habits, a daily practice, also help fight the resistance.
Good things are supposed to take time. Progress ebbs and flows. It’s beneficial, almost necessary, to step away from the work and plan unscheduled time. Even when you’re not thinking, you’re thinking; the brain never turns off.
Garp threw away his second novel and began a second novel. Unlike Alice, Garp was a real writer—not because he wrote more beautifully than she wrote but because he knew what every artist should know: as Garp put it, “You only grow by coming to the end of something and by beginning something else.” Even if these so-called endings and beginnings are illusions. Garp did not write faster than anyone else, or more; he simply always worked with the idea of completion in mind.
Finish what you start, or throw it away and start something you’ll finish. Ship it.
On the other hand, you can put it aside and let it marinate.
Writer’s block is a myth created by people who are afraid to do the work.
There are various reasons writers let the blank page get the best of their emotions.
Trying to be too perfect
Procrastinating en route to excuses that usually include the word “But….”
Unwilling to fail or write poor sentences first
Living up to someone else’s expectations
Being afraid to share their work
Writer’s block appears to be the work of evil. It wants us to quit and hide in shame instead of “dancing with the amygdala” as Seth Godin pleads on the very subject in his new podcast: ‘No such thing (as writer’s block).’ Stream it below.
In reality, no one gets talker’s block just as a plumber never gets plumber’s block or a teacher gets teaching block. Such stuckness is a work of fiction.
Pro tip: The habit of blogging every day helps me defeat writer’s block. The more you write, the more you have to play with. Start your blogging journey and set up your website for FREE on WordPress right here.
ForgET INSPIRATION AND DO THE WORK
If we choose to be professional, we choose to show up consistently and dance with the fear. We develop habits that allow us to unlock what Steven Pressfield’s calls the resistance in his book The War of Art, compelling the muse to work with us rather than against us.
This is what Seth Godin says on facing the resistance:
“The resistance never goes away. The more important the work is, the louder it gets. The harder you try to make it go away, the hard and more clever it gets in response. The work is doing it when you don’t feel like it. Doing it when it’s not easy.”
Fear leads to inertia which leads to regret. The lizard brain wants us to run away and never come back.
What if instead of giving up, we started writing by doing it poorly, persisting through the maze of bad ideas. Only when we have something to work with can go back we tweak it.
Perfection is futile — writers rarely nail in a good sentence in the first draft. Rough drafts are expectedly shitty. All writing is in the edit, anyway.
“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”
If we write regularly, we’ll get better at avoiding the pain of getting stuck. Habits are everything. But if we do get blocked? Again, keep writing with no regard for perfection.
Said novelist John McPhee: “The funny thing is that you get to a certain point and you can’t quit. Because I always worried: If you quit, you’ll quit again. The only way out was to go forward, to learn your way and write your way out of it.”
In short, heed this writing advice: Don’t whine, don’t complain, get busy and make things. Speed-write, set an imaginary deadline, write by hand — do whatever it takes to get something down. And if we’re still stuck — go for walk while listening to Seth’s podcast below: