Writer’s block has hit me hard for the last year. To break out of this period of inactivity, I want to do an exercise that I saw in Twyla Tharp’s book “The Creative Habit”. In it, she lists the excuses she sometimes makes to avoid creating. Afterwards she provides commentary about how she can move past them. In no particular order, here are my excuses:
- I’m not a professional / I don’t want to mislead others
Excuse: A few years ago, when I was hyped about blogging, I often tried to motivate friends to start writing. I heard every excuse in the book. One friend though, said she didn’t want to start blogging because she didn’t want to contribute to the noise. “There’s too many people on the internet shouting their opinions” she said.This was hard on me because I had to ask myself if I was actually contributing online or just shouting my opinions. I’m not a professional on any topic. I don’t have a degree. Most of my knowledge comes out books or experiences. This excuse could be summed up by the introspective question all artists face: “What qualifies you to do this?”
Rebuttal: Honestly? Most of the internet is filled with people who are not qualified to do what they do. But they do it anyways. For the most part, nothing could really qualify a person. Who says that someone is qualified to walk down the street and vlog their life on their camera? Or toss a bunch of mentos in coke? Or to do anything for that matter?
As for the ‘shouting opinions’ portion, everyone is going to come across in this way. If you want to share, it’s inherently noisy. You don’t make the noise any louder by producing or any quieter by not writing. If you’re heart is telling you to contribute, go out and create. It’s bound to be noisy.
- I’m unclear about my intentions about why I write and what to write about
Excuse: Often when I sit down when I sit down to write I don’t have a particular topic that I want to discuss in mind. I only have the feeling that I want to write. Without direction or drive, I spin between possible topics for too much time before giving up.The process of choosing a topic is… long winded? Usually this part is intermixed with the other excuses; “what qualifies you to write about this?”, “why don’t you write about a personal experience instead?”, “that’ll take too long”, et cetera. Without a topic, I don’t have clear intentions to create a good product.
Rebuttal: The obvious solution to this excuse is to take time to define why you write and what you want to write about. Find what topic you want to discuss and stick to it. The first step you should take when sitting down is defining why you’re here and what you’re going to do. Going with the flow is a great skill to have but if you do it too much here, you’ll exhaust yourself wandering through topics with no direction. Pick a topic and hold to it.
- My writing skills are rusty and it’s embarrassing to read old posts
Excuse: While this one is easy to counter, I often find myself faced with my old writing. Not that it was particularly good, but when I was writing daily, my skills were much higher. Now that I’ve stopped writing for almost two years, I automatically compare my current work to that which I was producing during a creative “height”.
Rebuttal: Comparison will eat you alive. If you spend your time sulking in how you’re not as great as you once were, you’ll never do great things again. If the feeling is nagging you that bad, just work through it and continue to produce. With time and persistence, you’ll hone your craft again. Maybe it won’t be in the same way, and that’s fine, but you will get better as you work.
- It’s time consuming and there are other things I could be doing
Excuse: Without skills, it takes feels like it takes forever to write. I spend 4 or 5 hours writing a short blog posts, then I over-edit it, question myself about whether it’s “good enough to post”, then ultimately log off for the night without sharing it.
More than anything this make me feel like I’m wasting my time. It takes me a long time to sit down and produce something. “Is it worth the time if the product isn’t great?”
Rebuttal: All art takes time to produce. You can’t go into it thinking that you’ll be able to jump in quick and come out with a fantastic product. You have to put in the time to create something awesome. Even with greater skill, you’ll still have to put in your hours. Suck it up buttercup, everyone goes through these stages of writing too much, overdoing it, and questioning if it’s good enough. It’s part of the process. Keep going and push passed it.
- When it comes down to it, I’m scared of judgement or being held accountable for what I write
Excuse: These “writer’s blocks” usually boil down to a fear of being judged for expressing something. Whether it be a personal topic or a judgement based off what I choose to reblog or share. “If I write ________, will I come across as too (gay, masculine, feminine, showoff-ish, dumb, know-it-all, irrelevant)?”
On the same note, I’m afraid that if I write casually, down the road someone is going to hold me to what I wrote. My opinions change as I gain understanding. What I wrote two years ago may not be true about me anymore.
Rebuttal: No matter what you do, people will always judge you for it. And that’s okay because it really doesn’t matter what others think about you. You’ll always be too gay, too thin, too dumb, for somebody. So what? Create anyways. Have confidence in what you do. You feel driven to create and share. Not everybody can say that.
The same is true about being held accountable for what you produce. People will always hold things against you. You’ll always be too much of something. Even if it was a past you. Create anyways. Be radical, then contradict yourself. Who cares? You’re allowed to change. You’re allowed to be obscene and different and too much. Do what you love.
Hey y’all, thanks for reading this. I apologize for how long this post has gotten. Brevity isn’t my strong suit. Plus, it’s easy to complain and write excuses! 😛 I hope that if you experience any of these same excuses, maybe you’ll let them go. I’d love to see what you produce. If anyone gets this far, let me know in the comments what excuses you face and how you get passed them. Have a good day/night and I’ll catch ya later!