You stare at the blank page and frustration builds.
Eventually, you force the words out, but they are not the right ones. Now you’re angry in addition to being frustrated.
It’s taking too long.
It all looks like complete garbage.
It’s too hard.
You might even think about quitting for a moment.
But then you come back to the page. Something keeps pulling you back for more. And it won’t go away. It’s always there — a quiet whisper in the back of your mind.
Tell the story. Go tell the story.
But instead it’s easy to find something else to do. Hello Netflix! Hello Hulu! Amazon Prime Video? Why not?!
I get it. This is a universal struggle for anyone doing anything productive today.
A Change Is Needed.
Let’s admit it: you’re really spending a lot of time in our head thinking. Right?
And, if you and I can be brutally honest, it’s not just time spent thinking, it’s really overthinking. Isn’t it?
You’re spinning your wheels, waiting for the muse to come and shoot you in the butt with a bolt of creative lightning — also known as inspiration.
But here’s the thing: that rarely happens. (If ever.) Inspiration is often a myth. It’s not something you can rely upon to keep you going.
And the time you spend “messing around” writing without a clear focus isn’t getting you ANYWHERE near the goal you have in mind.
You write for a couple of minutes and then check your email or Facebook.
Here’s How To Change Everything Up.
Let’s be honest, you know you won’t be productive and be able to work as much as you want to in your head.
So you’re kind of fighting a losing battle from the get go.
Here’s the solution: schedule a time to procrastinate and “mess around” AFTER you do the work.
But here’s the hook: you gotta have a timer.
If you don’t, you’re going to set yourself up for failure. You’ll find yourself drowning in some random part of the internet. (Cat videos, Twitter, Instagram, and the old F-Book)
It’s like when you’re on a diet. At a certain point when you’re trying really hard, everything starts to tempt you.
All work and no play make a Jack a dull boy.
Willpower is finite.
You can’t do it on your own.
Don’t believe me? Tell me how it went the last time that you went on a diet during the holidays. Endless sweets, goodies, countless parties, and carbs as far as the eye can see, right?
You failed didn’t you. (Don’t feel ashamed 99.99% fail there too during that time.)
Instead of going through all of that mess again with your writing, schedule a time to procrastinate or goof around.
You can even call it something like unfocused time or play time.
I know this sounds crazy, but it’s something you probably should put into your schedule.
Even though it doesn’t seem like it, this time for “goofing around” often leads to new ideas, new sources of inspiration.
The Most Important Thing You Need To Know
I have to give you a warning this step takes time. It’s not something that comes over night. This is something that will likely take years to really learn. But here goes:
You don’t need a single word of validation from anyone else. No likes, no retweets, nothing. All of that does not matter. Social media tells us these things matter, but they really don’t.
You must learn to trust yourself.
If you don’t trust yourself — love yourself even — you’ll continue to struggle on a daily basis.
Why? You have to trust yourself to be confident.
Otherwise, you’ll start to self-sabotage and implode. (And I’m not wishing this on you. I’m just giving you a little tough love that I wish I heard about 8–9 years ago.)
Trust yourself first. You have to know that you can do it, even before you finish.
Foolish? Maybe. But it’s the foolish who often do creative things. It’s the foolish who change things and tell incredible stories.
You cannot keep waiting for someone to knight you or crown you or give you some kind of lottery ticket that does not freaking exist.
I don’t like having to get that tough with you, but every now and then you know you need it, don’t you.
If you fail, so what? You fail. That’s part of the job description. You take whatever you can from it, you go back to the drawing board and you fix it the best you can.
Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure. It means what you are creating did not work yet.
Maybe now is the right time to get some support. I’m a writing coach, and I’ve had the honor of working with 7 New York Times Bestsellers. So drop me a line and let’s chat.
This Ain’t No Beauty Contest
You don’t get to have the story without any struggle. You don’t get to act like you are perfect and you didn’t fall on your face countless times. The blood on your nose and bruises on your cheeks make you better in the long haul.
They also help make you real. They make you into someone who is a lot like everyone else.
If you want to be a writer or a director or any kind of artist, it’s not about how pretty you are. It’s about what you put on the canvas.
It’s about what you put on the page.
The Simple Takeaway For You
I have one final thought to share with you. While trusting yourself is so important, this question is what trusting yourself looks like in action.
What if the only thing stopping you from creating some great art is your phone, YouTube, Netflix, or whatever other distractions you are prioritizing over your writing?
Instead, of falling for these traps, get to work. Your neighbor’s political rants on Facebook aren’t going to help you in any way, shape or form. Those cute little animal GIFS and videos aren’t either.
I’m not saying writing is super easy, but it is much much harder when you let everything else get in the way of the writing. You must take that time for yourself and protect it. Do not let anyone — or anything — take it from you.
Do not let the lies in your head (also known as fear or resistance) stop you. Be willing to make something. Go make some art.