Writer’s block. It’s one of the most frustrating things to overcome as a writer. I’m either struggling to find the right words to “put on paper” to describe what it is I’m blogging/writing about, or I’m having trouble even coming up with a topic to share some opinion on.
There are plenty of great articles out there on how one can overcome the annoying impediment–including one by our very own Pat Fiorenza.
All of them have great tips and provide interesting insights on what works for the writer. Most of the time they can be helpful–other times, I find myself frustrated that these authors were able to find something to write about how to find something to write about.
Then I read Seth Godin’s take on it all, which he posted on his blog last week.
Despite the short length of the article, Godin (a well-known author and entrepreneur) may have changed my entire outlook on how–and why–I write.
The man may have found a cure for writer’s block, and possibly even the vaccine to prevent writers from ever suffering from it again.
Before 1940, writer’s block wasn’t even a thing, Godin writes. “The reason: writing wasn’t a high stakes venture. Writing was a hobby, it was something you did in your spare time, without expecting a big advance or a spot on the bestseller list.”
Nowadays, that’s certainly not the case. Every time I sit down to write a blog post, or even an article for work, I find myself obsessing over making everything perfect. It’s one thing to carefully craft an article and think about how the placement of the words have an effect on what the reader might get out of it. It’s another to second-guess the very words your putting onto a page or document because you’re concerned about how the reader will perceive you, the writer. Not to say that I don’t like the style of writing I’ve made for myself, but one can’t help but wonder sometimes, who’s going to be reading this article, and how those 500 words could impact my career.
We’re all writers these days, though, thanks to the proliferation of blogging. We organize our words into thoughts, put those thoughts into a post, and share that post (in theory) with hundreds of thousands of people on the internet. Because of this, as Godin notes, we perceive the stakes of writing to be higher than ever. Fear of failing increases as well.
So how can we reverse this awful trend? Take Godin’s advice:
Consider the alternative to writer’s block: the drip. A post, day after day, week after week, 400 times a year, 4000 times a decade. When you commit to writing regularly, the stakes for each thing you write go down. … You don’t launch a popular blog, you build one. The writing isn’t the hard part, it’s the commitment.
The line that Godin emphasizes in that quote is what struck me hardest. No one simply starts writing and becomes famous, or attracts a large following overnight. It’s a matter of sticking with it, getting into a routine, and finding your voice. Just like the overused sports cliche, writers need to practice their craft in order to produce perfect content. Find your groove, get into it, and stick with it. The more you write, the easier and more freely the words will come.