Flippin’ Writer’s Block the Bird

Daily I feel that I have permanent writer’s block. I see posts on social media from other writers, claiming they write 2,000-10,000 words in a day. I even just saw a post about a girl who often writes 20,000 words in a day- holy bananas, Batman, that’s bonkers! Too bonkers; I don’t trust her. It’s very daunting to me as someone who struggles to pump out even 1,000 words regularly. What the world is telling me is this: “You are not good enough. Get out of the ring. You don’t have a shot.” It is times like these (which happen daily, remember) when outside voices that really only belong to me are making an attempt to dictate what I should and should not do with my life.

I know I’m not the only one, so let’s talk about it. What does this mean? It means that every day, there is a road block of my own creation. The rest of the world does not know what I’m doing, and therefore they do not have opinions. I create their opinions in my mind and pretend that this is what the outside is saying. It has also come to be my belief that this is the struggle of every human at least some of the time, and if anyone claims otherwise then they can get the heck out of town. Really, they should, because they clearly haven’t been trying to challenge themselves at all; a trip to an unfamiliar place is a good start. Many people listen to this voice, which leads to inaction and zero chance of change or success. Sometimes the voice is real—someone really does tell you that you have a terrible idea, or that you’re no good, or that you should give up. But that voice still only prevents us from moving onwards and upwards if we allow ourselves to listen to it.

I strongly believe in sulking time. Before I get to writing, I allow myself a few minutes to stare at my computer and tell myself, “I have no ideas. Why am I even doing this? My writing days are numbered!” Today, for example, it took me all morning to stop finding other things to research, watch, and scan through before opening up my documents. However, the rule is that if I sulk, in return I have to start pressing the keys and get to work.

If I make the decision to write, I will write something without fail. That is what I know. The more time we give to creating, the more we will create. The more time we give to ideas, the more ideas we will conjure. In order to create anything good, you have to start by simply creating. I didn’t have the following book in mind when I began this post, but I am currently reading Originals by Adam Grant, where he discusses this in great detail. He gives examples like Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach, who all had hundreds of pieces but are only known for a handful. Or Shakespeare, who wrote 37 plays, creating 3 of his 5 most popular plays (Macbeth, King Lear, and Othello) within the same 5 years that he cranked out some of his worst (All’s Well That Ends Well and Timon of Athens). The book also illustrates that no one’s first idea is the best idea. The first idea is more likely than not to be the most unoriginal. The magic number is 25- if you can come up with 24 mediocre ideas, there is a good chance the 25th will be the ticket. 

That brings us back to that aforementioned voice. We tell ourselves that we can’t do something, and that prevents us from doing anything. The more reading I do, the more interviews I listen to by those I deem “successful”, the more I have been able to recognize that this imaginary voice has one name and one name only: fear. In an interview with Dan Brown (The DaVinci Code, Angels & Demons), he said he doesn’t believe in writer’s block. He thinks it is just a writer being too hard on him or herself. In other words, it is fear. We are afraid of completely sucking. That is an unrealistic way of thinking, however, considering no one— not a single person in history—has ever managed success without striking out more often than hitting a homer.

When we recognize that inaction is caused by fear, we can then ignore it by taking the action that this fear is trying to prohibit. All morning I procrastinated because I felt that I didn’t have anything to write about. Over 700 words later I guess I didn’t have writer’s block after all.


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