The majority of my job is writing and editing. I like to write and I like to read. So, you’d think I’d be all about managing a blog, getting guest submissions, and writing posts. But lately I’ve let this blog go to the side. I’ve justified it as I’ve been focusing on other writing projects for the new name reveal and for some exciting things coming up in our startup coaching programs. The truth is I’m feeling a really big case of writer’s block lately. I have a whole lot of thoughts in my head, but when I go to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) I feel stuck.
Yesterday I was having an impromptu lunch with one of our members and we were catching up on life. Joanna Waterfall is the founder of Yellow Co., a company she started to bring together and equip creative entrepreneurial women to use their gifts and talents to be agents of good in the world. (If this is you…check out the The Yellow Conference, The Yellow Collective, and the blog.) Joanna is also a graphic designer and does a fair amount of writing herself, so she seemed like a really good person to talk to about creative blocks and such.
She asked how I was doing I told her I was having a hard time writing all of the things that I wanted to. She gave me a solid piece of very simple advice (she’s really good at that) and then my wheels got turning a little bit. So I’m passing along three very simple things that you can do today to help navigate the blocks that can often come when trying to produce good work.
1. Do something, even if it is horrible.
There is a pretty well known idea in the writing world called a Bad First Draft (others have more colorful language for said first draft, but I’m keeping it G rated today). We often put so much pressure on ourselves to write something amazing right out of the gate. Joanna reminded me that writing something, even if it is terrible, is an essential element to forward movement. You’ll obviously need to go back and edit it, or perhaps change it almost entirely. But getting it out there is important.
This concept can obviously apply to more than writing. I recommend it for any form of work frustration. Getting something out there keeps things moving. And forward movement does more than just get something out there. It helps you keep at it, even when you want to throw in the towel. Be okay with something, even if its really, really bad. Then go back later and revise it.
2. Step Away
Once you’ve gotten it out there, step away. Go do something else. Grab coffee, go for a walk, hit the gym, head to the beach. Whatever it is, do something that clears your mind and takes you away from what you wrote so you can go back and look at it with fresh eyes and a clearer mind.
3. Talk to someone
In taking to Joanna and my husband about my frustrations, they not only had some good and simple advice, but they were very encouraging. Never underestimate the value of others speaking into your experience, both practically and emotionally. Talking it out helped me articulate exactly what I was experiencing and also allowed others to give me a perspective outside my own.
So there you have it. A few tips on what to do when you just don’t think you can do it. Obviously writer’s block isn’t even close to among the most pressing problems in the world. But I think these principles can apply to so many more situations. When we work to bring goodness to the world, we’ll naturally face resistance in many forms. So keep doing something, take time to step away, talk to others, and then come back to it.