Seth Godin says there’s no such thing as writer’s block, “Writer’s block is really just fear of bad writing. If you’re willing to do bad writing, then good writing will slip through — it can’t be helped.”
I disagree and I’m raving Seth Godin fan.
Writer’s block is real. And it’s not limited to writers. And it’s not just fear of bad writing.
We all know what it’s like to be stuck.
In these situations we often jump to quickly to action as the answer.
Held back in your writing? Sit down and start tapping on those keys.
Confused about your life? Take the next small step.
Exhausted at work? Head down, stay focused, make the money.
Staring blankly at an empty canvas? Paint something, anything.
We want the breakthrough as soon as possible. Done is better than perfect, as we’ve heard it said. We aim for mechanical, practical solutions.
Godin continues by declaring, “Professionals show up every day. They don’t wait for the muse or the right emotions or “flow”. They don’t know if it’s going to work. They just DO the work.”
Do you hear the ruthless, robotic energy behind these statements?
Show up EVERY DAY regardless of your emotions.
FORGET flow, just DO the work.
Check your humanity at the door.
In the just-DO-the-work approach, there is no room for the inevitable droughts, divorces, doldrums, disasters, dips, dark nights, or depressions. Instead we power through the disorienting times with a professional, machine-like devotion to our days.
Sit at desk.
Physical, mental, emotional, or creative blocks highlight the existence of our harsh inner coach. Resistance, however it shows up for us, means it’s war time. Threats to our professionalism signal it’s time to suit up and play the productivity game even harder. Victory comes through taking swift action.
We want to whiz past the blockages in our lives like a warrior rather than ponder their whispers like a poet.
Pondering feels like a passive approach to the problem of our unproductiveness.
By defintion it’s prolonged inconclusive thinking about a matter. Picture long drawn out sessions of mulling over our life with a hot cup of tea in our hands, frequent pauses along our paths to refresh our perspective, and deeply examining our repetitive actions and constant efforts.
But in the practice of pondering we boldly pick up our humanity, along with our shameless collection of endless questions and curiousities.
Social media, our own thoughts and mindsets, and our work environments are violently opposed to the parts of us that need to find herself again, or wait patiently until the magic captures her heart, or turn inward toward the ache, the longing, the quiet for a time.
If we give into the writer’s blocks, ponder their presence, and put such a purposeless pursuit on our priority list, the fear is not bad writing, but that we might never write again, or push again. We will become The Laziest Blob, who never earns a cent, or makes a sale, or leaves a legacy.
When we’re in the middle of experiencing a block and we need to stop a project we so desperately wanted to complete, turn down an exciting opportunity, ignore tasks on our List, or stare out the window instead of working, we automatically begin to panic. We’ve lost our professionalism!
It’s hard to put down our weapons of productivity, our thoughtless steps, and vague, performance-oriented goals. Befriending our blocks and long stretches of the blahs takes more courage than being the professional all the time.
Pressing on, showing up, sounds heroic, but sitting for a second with our hesitations, tending to our scattered emotions, contemplating this adventure we’re on is where we make the most beautiful discoveries about ourselves.
Perhaps we’re more than mere working professionals, we’re also pondering people, inspiration-seeking poets looking to process the harsh realities of life with care and patience.