Ever heard of “writer’s block?” It’s that paralysis-inducing-voice that shouts, “Be quiet, you have nothing to say.”
I’ve battled this voice countless times writing my first book (and many times since, including writing these blogs!) But now I know the voice well enough to ignore it and write anyway.
My good friend, Alice Rhee, an Emmy Award-winning producer for NBC news in New York, offered some excellent advice. She shared about a class she had in the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, where students write without lifting their pen off the paper for 30 straight minutes. It’s an exercise in writing their stream of consciousness, without editing themselves.
I gave this technique a try and boy was it liberating! Beyond the thrill of the drill, what a treat to read how good some of my unedited stuff really was. I practice this exercise (via laptop) regularly now, and it always seems to unlock the flow.
Speaking of flow, the more you write, the more you’ll have to write. It’s like opening up new tributaries in a river. Writing literally PULLS from what’s inside. Conversely, keeping it all locked up somewhere in your mind or on a few random journals, won’t get you going.
A boat in motion is easier to steer, so get in motion. Every author knows that what you start out writing is seldom what you end up publishing anyway, so get in the flow and let the rush of the river take you where you’re meant to go, NOW, not “Someday when I start writing.”
All of us deal with self-doubt, especially when embarking on something as personal as writing. When you’re pulling from inner experiences, viewpoints, and stories, in order to share them with the world, you’ll be forced to overcome self-doubt, time and again.
But consider this….if you never offer it, or in this case write it, how can your reader be helped, make a change, laugh, feel hope, or follow your lead in sharing their own gift with the world?
One day on my front porch trying desperately to meet a deadline with my editor, I was exasperated, feeling zero flow. I started praying…”Lord, I feel so inadequate. It’s all been said before. I’m no former CEO or big-name executive. Who really wants to hear what I have to say?”
Then, in that familiar Voice I’ve grown to love and cherish, I heard….”Lynette, when a new voice sings an old familiar song, people will pay money to hear it. I’ve called you to be a voice…SING!”
Wow! Sing, share my song, belt it out, get on the stage and let ‘er rip. What a novel concept! It freed me from the need to be uniquely different, extra-skilled, or supremely qualified. Just one more voice in a choir of many, but responsible to SING.
You have a song too, and someone needs your story. So write and don’t stop. Your Conductor, among others, is waiting.