Between my computer not playing nicely with WordPress and starting back to school for my Masters, I managed to stop writing, and yet my brain keeps creating blogs and stories. The plain and short of it – I got lazy. The short of that – I quit.
And then I realized, I AM A WRITER. I can’t just quit because life gets frustrating or chaotic – THAT’S LIFE!
So here I am. Before I finish writing this bit (which I have no clue what it’s about) I will have come close to throwing my laptop out the window several times, broken up a cat fight, and managed to scroll through my Instagram feed at least once. And that brings me back to what I hope is the theme of this blog – writer’s block.
I have never truly understood this phrase. I have never been out of ideas to write, no shortage on imagination or unsolicited advice…so I had assumed I never experienced it in the crippling, all-production-is-halted sense that I thought this warranted. But then I took a class.
Writer’s block doesn’t mean you can’t write, not always anyhow, it’s when you can’t enter the zone pretty much. You loose focus on why you write, and thus you stop writing or struggle to write. It might be a 30 second field trip through Facebook, a venture to the coffee pot, or a rabbit hole of research…but it is the procrastination that stands in the way of productivity. Which, as you may know from previous articles I have written, I do experience – A LOT.
Stephen King’s number 1 rule in his list of rules for writers is “Write for yourself.” This is brilliant advice. You have to like what you are writing before anyone else can. Forget the grade, the publisher, the stats and just write because you love to write.
Stephen King’s advice, however, doesn’t just apply to writing, it applies to life.
Work is an unavoidable necessity of life. Whether it’s housework, going to a job, exercise, even brushing your hair – it all requires a bit of effort, a bit of time, and a bit of motivation. But who are we doing it for? If it is to please somebody else – a boss, your spouse, “the Jonses,” your mom – then you are likely to eventually dread that work or even be resentful of it, you may even develop “writer’s block” in that you find ways to avoid it or can’t enjoy it.
I used to work as a floor associate at Walmart. Most days, I loved my job. I enjoyed my co-workers, I enjoyed my customers. Why? Because I worked for the people, not the corporation, and in doing so I was doing something for me – I was staying true to my values and my goals of being there for others. Now, when I stopped enjoying the job and began dreading going to work is when I lost sight of why I worked. I began to focus on the never ending demands, the paycheck, the corporation and I was miserable. Thankfully, I was moved into the Pharmacy area, and here, I was reminded of why I liked working with the public- I wanted to be the smile that brightened someone’s day, I wanted to help others. Because I was working for me, others were able to enjoy the experience.
Does that mean I always liked going into work? Absolutely not! It was work! I sometimes cried before and after a shift. And there was plenty of venting that took place when a day went south. But that’s life. It’s not always going to be rainbows and sunshine. I’m not always going to like my writing either or doing the dishes or even my hair. That’s okay. But if I’m only doing it to please somebody else instead of for me then I’m going to avoid, dread, and HATE those things.
There are two types of motivation – external and internal. External motivation is doing something for the grade, money, the boss, or even to please society. This kind of motivator will often lead to “writer’s block” and is not powerful enough to keep you happy and engaged. However, internal motivation is where the power comes from, this is the steam that drives the engine. I enjoy working with the public because I like to motivate, help and encourage. I like to write because I want to inspire and take people away from their troubles for a little bit. Those are my internal motivators, not money or grades.
*Find your internal motivation!!!
Exercise for your joy. Fix your hair to please you. Clean your house because you want it clean. Work because it brings you satisfaction. Do it for YOU FIRST and others will see the results.
I have scrapped a lot of blogs and essays over the years because I didn’t feel it. I just knew that my addled attempts would seep through the pages and be exposed to my readers. However, if I am passionate about a topic and my thoughts, if I am fully invested, even if the piece is poorly written, my excitement and joy in writing it is tangible.
It doesn’t matter what the external motivator is – you just have to shift your focus from doing it for others to doing it for yourself. You may just be surprised with the results and your attitude.
Stephen King’s 20 Rules for Writers
*Just so you know, the cats surprisingly behaved, my computer only caused mild frustration, and there was no scrolling though any social media sites.