During a breakfast chat with a friend, he asked me why I had taken time away from writing. The reason was I had first-hand experienced writer’s block. Here’s the story of the realization that helped me overcome it.
I. Why I Stopped Writing
#1. “I had become disillusioned with my writing.”
For about a year and a half I had been blogging continuously. I even drafted an eBook, and broke it down and published it into a series of over 20+ posts. I felt a jolt of excitement every time I published, and an even greater feeling every time my posts were viewed.
And that was the root of the problem.
I had fallen in love with the online engagement on the page. I was chasing vanity metrics. I began judging my posts based on the number of views they received; not on how I felt while writing them.
It’s easy to fall into this trap when you forget why you’re writing in the first place. Lacking an internal scorecard, I was feeding off the validation from the outer world.
Which bring me to reason #2…
#2. “I had lost my Why.”
After pushing out almost 20 posts in 2 months, I started to feel like I was just writing for the sake of it. ‘Doing’ for doing sake.
I had forgotten why I began a writing practice in the first place:
1) To Learn.
As part of my learning process, writing helped me reinforce new concepts and cement the newly gained knowledge. My process was something like: “Read” → “Analyze” → “Summarize” → “Publish“. It worked incredibly well.
An emphasis on publishing forced me to synthesize concepts and boil them down to simple ideas; while hopefully creating material that was useful for readers.
2) To Explore.
Free form essay writing gave me a space to explore my thoughts and feeling, grapple with whatever I was struggling with, and find that space between stimulus and response where you take a step back and think about what you are experiencing.
It’s almost as if every time I write I explore a different part of me, gaining a new perspective or allowing me to connect with myself in a different way.
And now, onto the final reason I stopped writing…
#3. “I felt like I had nothing to share.”
Many people experience this often in their lives. There’s this voice in them that wants to share what they think, what they read about. The voice is excited and believes that sharing freely is a way to connect with others and contribute to them in some form or way.
But then there’s this other voice that steps in. And it’s a mean voice. The voice judges, evaluates, and criticizes. It says that no one will care about what you have to say. It says that your writing isn’t good enough and that it’s best if you just kept it to yourself. I understand how you feel.
The villain in this story is fear. Fear is what keeps us from expressing ourselves and sharing our interests and authenticity with others. Fear of rejection. Fear of ridicule. Fear of letting yourself down by missing self-imposed expectations. And this fear is the exact thing we all need to overcome. This fear is the enemy.
Fear is the fire that fuels Writer’s Block.
II. Overcoming Writer’s Block
Kudos to you if you’ve made it this far. Let me tell you how I overcame the block and how you can as well.
#1. Find your WHY
The first thing we need to is connect with our why; the driving force behind our intentions. Perhaps you want to write a children’s book. Perhaps you want to share a hardship you’ve recently experienced, so that others may find comfort in it. Whatever your reason, keep it present and in focus.
Here are examples of the why’s I’ve tried to articulate:
- I write because it helps me calm down when I’m troubled.
- I write because to create a space where I am free to think, feel, or say what I please.
- I write because it teaches me how to express myself and communicate with others; to connect with their needs, to influence and to inspire.
- I write because writing helps build clarity in thought.
- I write because thinking clearly is required for me to achieve my goals of leading others, of creating value at scale, and someday achieving financial freedom.
- I write because the more I write, the more unstoppable I feel. The more unstoppable I feel, the more unstoppable I become.
There it is. An example of the deeply rooted driving WHY that exists in all of us.
#2. Turn off the Judging Voice
The second thing we need to is to to turn off the judging voice in our heads.
We have to engage mindfully with the present moment; free of evaluations and critique; enjoying and watching it pass.
We have to give ourselves permission to fail; creating the psychological safety required to step outside of our comfort zones, try new things, experiment, make mistakes, fail and learn. We have to do this because we can only grow and get better at our craft by stretching our capacity and learning from each of our experiences.
And when we do fail, believe me we will, we have to practice compassion with ourselves. We have to appreciate and be grateful for this learning opportunity we have ahead of us. And then we have to build up the creative confidence to get up and try again.
The truth is that we all occasionally lose our voice and our confidence to share and connect with others. It’s important to remember that:
We all have the power to conquer the block; to embrace our challenges, overcome our fears, and allow ourselves to live out our passions to the fullest of our abilities.
Thanks for listening. Cheers till next time!