I used to have writer's block.
I couldn't write anything at all.
I'd stare at the white screen for what seemed like hours and then I'd quit in defeat.
One moment I wrote works of staggering beauty and genius, the next moment I was paralyzed with fear.
“Oh good golly, what if the writing isn't good enough?!”
What happened? How did I go from the greatest to the weakest in a blink of an eye?
Fear is the killer of creativity.
It isn't that we actually run out of things to say, it's that we become frightened of saying anything.
In my own case two things contributed to this fear.
- I felt I had written a complete work of art and that anything else I wrote would take away from it
- I was making a lot of money and I was scared of changing anything and messing up the gravy train
So how did I overcome these fears?
It took a long time, actually.
And even when I did start writing again it was sporadic.
I languished in “writer's block” for what seems like an eternity.
Publishing here and there, but never producing the quantity of work I wanted to.
I let myself be controlled by the fear.
It wasn't until I understood the fear that I learned to control it.
We have to understand that fear is mental, and the mental can be controlled.
Like the Buddha said, “The mind is everything. What you think, you become.”
I decided to become great again. I decided to be in control of my own mind.
In the process I learned that writing an article isn't hard at all… it's easy.
It's easier than easy. It's a breeze.
The hard part is committing to actually writing the article.
Once you have committed to writing the article, it becomes easier than easy.
But what happens before commitment?
I have ideas for articles all the time – constantly! I always have something I want to say.
But something seemed to always stop me…
I would sit down to write down the title and a few notes but then the mind would say, “That's enough for now, you can quit writing right now and finish this later.”
This voice is the voice of self-sabotage.
There is no later. Committing to writing later is like committing to never writing it.
This is what the writer has to overcome, this liar voice that says you can do it later.
If you want to do the work you must do it right now when it is fresh in your mind.
It will never happen “later.”
The hard part is not writing, and there is no writer's block.
The hard part is simply sitting down and committing to writing the words.
DO THE WORK!
I'll do the work step by step. I'll write down the title and I'll write down some bullet-points.
The mind will say “this is enough” but I will force myself to continue. I will flesh out some more bullet points.
Again the mind will say “this is enough” but I will continue to flesh out more bullet points.
At this point the article is garbage and it's easy to want to quit.
But I keep going.
I flesh out more of the article, bit by bit.
Eventually the article that was garbage starts to become good.
I become glad I did not quit but again the mind will say “this is enough for now, finish it later” but I do not listen.
This is the voice of self-sabotage!
Don't listen to that liar voice. Keep writing.
Eventually you will have started from nothing and ended up with a completed piece of work.
This work did not exist two hours ago and the mind told you to quit, but you didn't listen.
You continued writing in spite of the voice telling you to quit and in two hours you made magic happen.
You created something out of nothing, like an alchemist or a wizard.
DON'T LISTEN TO THE LIES OF THE MIND
Buddhists have long known that the mind is a liar.
Just because we think something doesn't mean it is true.
This voice of the mind is not the voice of intuition.
Often, what we think is the opposite of what is true and good. The mind is the saboteur.
Writer's always think “that's good enough, Ill finish it later” but this is a lie – it is almost never finished later.
The work has to be done right now when it's fresh in your mind. The longer you wait, the less you will ever get done.
I often say that friends and family will try to get you to quit and live a normal life and not be creative…
…but the reality is that friends and family are hardly the barrier to success.
If you cannot break past this barrier you will never achieve success in any field.
The mind will always try to get you to quit.
Quitting cannot be blamed on friends and family, quitting rests firmly on your own shoulders.
CONTROL YOUR MIND USING MIND CONTROL
The mind will try to poison you at every turn.
This is why we respect successful entrepreneurs so much…
Not because they are such wonderful inventors or businessmen, but because they have the ultimate power of will over the mind.
Because they can conquer their own minds they can conquer anything.
Creation is a triumph of the will over the mind.
We have to remember that it isn't the mind that gives us success.
Success is mindless – it is pure WILL that gives us success.
The mind just gets in the way.
Kill the mind and work from the soul only.
The mind is a liar, the soul is eternal.
Let the work flow from somewhere else and shut the mind up.
- This is what the Japanese call Zazen (zen)
- This is what athletes call being in the zone
- This is what modern psychology calls flow state
- Orison Swett Marden called it An Iron Will
- Steven Pressfield says Do the Work
- Jocko Willink calls it Mind Control
Victor Pride says BE MINDLESS.
The mind is a dirty, filthy liar and you must not listen.
How You Can KILL Writer's Block
Do this and make no excuse:
Set aside 2 hours to write.
In this 2 hours you must write.
It does not matter what you write, it only matters that in this 2 hours you do nothing but write.
You will want to quit at first, you will look for any excuse to quit.
But you won't quit. You will be zen.
You will notice the thoughts but give them no mind.
“During zazen, it is normal to have images, thoughts and emotions coming up to the surface, appearing from the unconscious mind. Do not pursue them or fight escape from them. The more you try to get rid of them, the more attention you give them, and the stronger they become. Try not to attach to them. Just let them go without judgement, like clouds in the sky.”
You will not attach feelings of good or bad to the thoughts of quitting.
You will notice them and then let them be. You will have no emotional reaction to them.
Those thoughts will be there but you will not quit. The thoughts will become meaningless. Empty.
In the end, you will win. You will not listen to the liar mind. You will create magic out of thin air.
You will ignore the mind and you will do the work.
Doing the work is easy.
There is no such thing as writer's block.
There is only listening to the liar mind, or not listening to the liar mind.
The liar mind will say “Quit now!”
You will say “Nope!”
This is all that is necessary to kill the fear that is known as writer's block.
The mind will tempt you to quit.
You will use the most powerful word in the English language…
In 2 hours you will laugh in the face of self-sabotage.
Now you are a man, a mere mortal, but in 2 hours from now…
Until next time.