Pushing Past Writer’s Block
I’ve fought with myself for the last two days about sitting down to write Wednesday’s blog post. I had an idea I thought I was going to go with, but somehow, I managed to find every excuse in the book to avoid sitting down at my computer and starting to write.
Most of the time, I tell people how easy it is for me to write, whether it’s my morning pages, a writing prompt, or a blog post. I can usually dash off a thousand words or more without much thought. Of course, the key to any writing is sitting down with pen or computer keyboard at hand and actually putting pen to paper or fingers to keys. My problem with this post has been, to use an old movie title, a failure to launch.
When Habits We Set Become Non-Negotiable
I find it difficult, if not impossible to skip my morning pages after about 2 years of dedication to the task. In fact, on the days I do have to skip (which can be counted on one hand with fingers left over) I feel like the day never really gets started properly. Like I’m running on 4 1/2 cylinders instead of 8. And I know if I go to bed tonight without having scheduled the post for Wednesday, I’ll feel off all day knowing, not that I let anyone else down, but that I let myself down.
I used to let myself down all the time. I’d honor commitments to friends, strangers, and co-workers while ignoring commitments to myself. I’ve learned how damaging that can be to my self-esteem, and work hard to ensure I no longer forget about the most important person in my life. It has led to having a number of things that are non-negotiable: thrice weekly gym visits, dance nights, morning pages, and thrice weekly blog posts. (re-reading this I’m seeing how heavily I’m influenced, without even realizing it, but the “Rule of Three“).
We Are the Most Important Commitment
It doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes struggle with one or another of my self-imposed commitments (usually writing or editing). It means sometimes, like now, I really have to force myself to start. The funny thing is, once I do begin one of my tasks, no matter how unmotivated I might have been, everything comes together. On the days I have to drag myself to the gym (which thankfully are relatively rare these days) I’ll tell myself “I’ll just do a couple of machines, a stretch and get out of here”. Those are the days I’m usually there for an hour and a half or two hours, working extra hard.
Blog writing is no different. I may wait until 10 or 11 o’clock to start, but once I get going, I’m a beast, and it’s usually one of my longer posts. I can’t say right now if my pattern will stand tonight. For all I know, I’ll end this particular ramble at 700 words or so. For those who’ve been reading for a while, that’s flash fiction compared to what I typically write. But some days, I just need to write a shorter post. It’s no reflection on how committed I am to myself. It’s simply a day when ideas flow more slowly, and I don’t have the usual waterfall of words flowing from my fingers.
Yet the commitment is honored whether I write 2000 words or 700. I think that’s what I’m trying to say here, and it matches a saying I have on my vision board. “Creator, you take care of quality and I’ll take care of quantity.” It was one of the many things besides my morning pages I took away from Judith Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”.
Goal Setting and Baby Steps
When we set small goals, we might dive in and accomplish them in a single session, a single push. But our large goals, be they writing a book, healing from a trauma, learning something new; they all require a series of smaller steps, maybe even baby steps. Trying to get from point A to point B instead of skipping to point R on some of those larger tasks is often necessary, not only so the foundation is firm, but so we learn some essential lessons along the way.
My writing is one of those things. Committing to three blog posts a week is one of my baby steps. Making myself sit down at the computer and pound out a post, even when I don’t feel like it is training for what I need to know and do if I ever want to be that best-selling author who currently lives in my head.
Inspiration From Persistence
I admit I’ve put J.K. Rowling on a rather tall pedestal, but she epitomizes what it means to set goals, then work towards them. She is a huge inspiration to me regarding what we can do when we set down our stepping stones, securing them in place, then setting down a few more.
Success rarely comes easily. It’s reached by traveling a road filled with triumphs and disappointments, but mostly, of small steps which, when we’re consistent, when we’re persistent, bring us, ultimately to our goal. Of course, by then, we’ve likely set new ones, but the road to each goal is paved with lessons which will help us, not only with the goal we’re currently working towards, but for the even loftier ones we set once we’ve achieved the first ones.
Color My World With Words
Many times, I feel like I’m not painting the vivid pictures we writers are supposed to paint with our words. I’m not giving readers enough detail to allow them to see what I’m seeing, or at least see it colored by their own experiences. Then someone will say to me “I can tell you’re a writer by the way you answered my questions”. It tells me the word picture I painted, believing it was insufficient was actually enough for them to see something that was at least close to what I was seeing.
Too often we sell ourselves short, or fail to start on the road to a goal, even talking ourselves out of it, thinking it’s too ambitious. I’m learning no goal is too ambitious if you can see it clearly in your mind. No vision is too lofty if you can feel it in the depths of your soul. It’s simply tragic if we envision ourselves with the goal achieved, yet can’t find a way to launch ourselves, to take those first small, seemingly inconsequential steps. No step is inconsequential or unimportant if it moves you even the slightest bit away from what you know and are comfortable with, into something that is different and maybe even scares you a little.
Using Our Fears as Stepping Stones
In all honesty, I’m a little terrified of getting my memoir published and out there to the general public. I’m scared to get up in front of a bunch of people and talk openly and honestly about losing someone to suicide, about understanding how a person can feel depressed and suicidal, and about forgiving myself. I know I’ll get a fair amount of heat for postulating that suicide is a choice, and for some people, the only one they believe they have left. But I’m more afraid of being in the same spot I am now, 5 years from now, or even 1 year from now, having accomplished nothing.
We all have to face our fears. Frankly, I don’t believe we have a choice. Some may choose to face theirs by wrapping themselves in cotton wool and retreating from the world. They may feel safe there, but they sure aren’t happy. I spent enough time in that particular town to know. It’s lonely and dark, and the feeling of being disconnected from the world is far more painful than anything I’ve encountered by taking a few risks and letting people into my life and the world I kept hidden for so long.
Honoring Personal Commitments is Our Biggest Success Story
Once again, I’ve honored my commitment to myself to write a post every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday by dashing off a “few” words for this one. As before, I set out to dash off a few hundred words, and ended up with over 1,000 again. It seems I’m incapable of saying anything in a few hundred words. But I’m also incapable of following a single thread to it’s reasonable and predictable conclusion. I think that’s why my writing has been such a great therapist for me, and in the process, has shown others they’re not alone in feeling some of the alone-ness, the frustration, the round peg in a square hole-ness they’ve felt while trying to navigate the ever-changing landscape we call life.
The best advice I was ever given was to set my goals in broad strokes and don’t try to control the steps or even the outcome. I do the same with my writing. I get my fingers on the keyboard and type the first few words. But what you ultimately see here and on my website is very much a free flow of ideas that comes, maybe from somewhere inside me, and maybe from the Universe itself while I’m but a vehicle to communicate what needs to be said. I’ve let go of the need to know where the words are coming from. I’m perfectly OK with being the conduit rather than the source.
Like moving towards our goals, there are many roads we could take. The easy ones might get us there faster, but the tougher ones give us tools we’ll need later to tackle the tougher goals which may not come with an easy road. I’m happy with the way my words flow out, just as I’m happy with the roads I choose. I don’t need to analyze why I followed one train of thought rather than another any more than I need to know why I chose one road over another. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all part of my personal grand plan which puts me exactly where I’m supposed to be at any given time.
My gratitudes tonight are:
- I’m grateful I have learned to honor the commitments I make to myself first and foremost.
- I’m grateful for the ease with which words flow from my fingers when I get out of my own way.
- I’m grateful for being able to type fast enough to keep up with the thoughts my brain is thinking, and the ones I’m sure are seedlings being planted.
- I’m grateful I’m a night owl so commitments I put off can still be accomplished when the sun has long ago started shedding it’s light on the other side of the world.
- I’m grateful for abundance, ideas, commitment, persistence, innovation, inspiration, overcoming fear, baby steps, new goals, friendship, joy, love, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author