A creative entrepreneur’s editorial calendar can be her salvation. Making a commitment to generate ideas, get the writing done, and put something in front of an audience signals to your community (and your brain and your spirit) that you’re fully invested in this work.
But, then again, a writing plan can just be a spreadsheet full of punishment and guilt. If you can’t seem to work the plan and meet your deadlines, does it mean you don’t truly care about your business or the people you serve?
Of course not. But when you’re blinded by the glare of the blank page or find every idea fizzles after two paragraphs, you start to panic. Especially when you’ve been on a consistent publishing streak.
You're thinking nothing short of a natural disaster should stop you from posting on schedule, but here you are, about to fail because you can’t find and stick to one halfway decent topic on an average Tuesday.
Step 1 for Reclaiming Your Writing Practice: Set Your Information Filters
The problem isn’t a lack of ideas. Most likely, it's an overabundance of information and possibility that has you stuck.
So, the first thing to do to vanquish writer’s block is to practice discernment about what sort of information you consume.
In Relax, Their Blogging and Marketing Advice Doesn’t Apply to You I offer a case for why you can tune out what the majority of experts have to say about content marketing - even if you’re dedicated to writing a blog in support of your business.
But then, once you’ve shut off the information fire hose, you’re left with the paradox: now that I finally have some quiet around here, I’m just going to add to the noise.
Step 2 for Reclaiming Your Writing Practice: Believe In the Writing Process
Is the ultimate cure for writer’s block simply killing the urge to write?
What if you convince yourself that producing more articles just adds to the chaos of the oversaturated digital stream? Then you can just walk away from the whole writing enterprise and congratulate yourself for reducing the information glut, right?
No. That’s not right.
- Maya Angelou
Writing is medicine. Words want to make alchemists of us all.
To shape your flashes of insight and prayers of gratitude and revelations of joy into a message that someone else can understand… that is the great prize of the human intellect, the greatest expression of aliveness in this Age of Information.
Writing has saved your sanity more times than you can count, but you forget this. I forget this. And so we research a little more in order to avoid taking the cure that is just as bitter as the disease.
Why is it that when it's time to write we open Google Search instead of opening a Google Doc?
Step 3 for Reclaiming Your Writing Practice: Avoid Writing By Reading About Writing
Writer's block isn't hard to cure. Just write poorly. Continue to write poorly, in public, until you can write better.
He’s right, of course, but the path to success he describes is outlined in traffic cones. Like me, I am betting you were hoping for velvet ropes or a seashell strewn path.
So turn to Kelly Galea who offers the same idea but prepares you a soft writer’s nest with the perfect writing implement and a beloved journal.
Just express yourself. Just BE. So simple, really. Again, are you wondering where these thoughts and words are coming from? This pen. How is that for an answer? The pen is an instrument … YOU are an instrument. Be used to express this collective consciousness in YOUR voice – your unique voice, the voice someone (MANY someones) are waiting to hear, to call them forth, to bring them home. Lead them, guide them, help them, inspire them, teach them. Give them hope. Give them love. Give them that spark. Give them compassion for themselves.
Kelly got me cozy, but I might just burrow into that nest she crafted with her words and never write a thing, so I look to Jeffrey Davis to get me moving.
In Jeffrey’s Post Ecstasy Laundry List he addresses the inevitable come down after a peak creative experience, but much of this advice applies to you if you can’t imagine feeling creative ever again.
He’s telling you to keep writing too:
Make mistakes. The only catastrophic choice a writer makes is not to choose. Whether it’s genre or working story arc or angle. Show up. Get messy. Hit dead ends. Flounder. That’s part of the quest.
Step 4 for Reclaiming Your Writing Practice: Assimilate Rather than Create
I allowed myself one more click before I told myself I would just walk away from the desk and pray for inspiration over the next diaper change (after all, it’s in moments of rest and boredom that the real answers flow).
Then I discovered Karen Brody’s work. Great goodness! She’s an expert in the struggle exhausted, depleted women who inspires you to change your way of being: “Because your life needs you fully charged.”
Karen offers 9 insights into the art of being well-rested, and it's barely a stretch to apply each of these to the “I have no idea what to write” lament. My favorite:
Welcome Everything. Think of all the hours you live in an either/or mentality. Real transformation comes when you can drop the false idea that you’re separate.
Apply this approach to your daily life, welcoming every experience as a potential inspiration for your next blog post or article.
Step 5 for Reclaiming Your Writing Practice: Practice Compassion
Bless you and your commitment. All hail your editorial calendar that can. You keep rocking that publishing streak.
But remember that your writing practice is meant to give back to you.
The hours you put in aren’t just in service to another post, another snack for the voracious internet marketing beast.
Your next post is a distillation of your presence in your life and in your business. It is a message from the heart of your work to the heart of someone who needs your wisdom, encouragement, or strategic advice.
The people who matter - the people who want to be beguiled and convinced and changed by your words - they don’t want you to look at a blank page gone blurry with tears of frustration. If they must, they can wait til next week.
And so can your spreadsheet.
But before you give up and beat yourself up:
- tune out the extraneous noise
- remember why writing matters to you
- seek wise counsel
- be present in the moment, and
- be kind to yourself
I can’t wait to read what you'll write next!
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