One of the things that I do to keep this blog up and running on a weekly basis is I have a number of blog topics lined up in advance. Many of them, in fact, I’ve also already written.
And I’ve done that for times like this: times when it’s hard for me to think of what to write or how to write it. Some folks call this writers block. So here’s an idea I borrowed from Bono of the rock band U2: when you have writers block and can’t think of anything to write…write about THAT. So that’s what we’re going to do here today…;)
First off, as I think about how difficult it is for me to find something to write or how to write it, I’m reminded that my brain needs down time to regenerate ideas for the times when it’s really busy and active and fruitful. Just like your body needs rest and recuperation from periods of high activity, your brain needs downtime to recover from periods of high activity.
So what I just wrote in the above paragraph? That’s the first step in dealing with the problem for me. This is natural, this is normal, and this is also why have I have times when the ideas are just flowing out of me. Those productive times happen because there was downtime or fallow time for my brain sometime before that to ‘build capacity’.
This downtime is also characterized by a feeling of lethargy, or tiredness, or “not wanting to write”. But, I think what’s really going on is my body telling you… “Hey buddy, take some time off from writing.” 😉
So, it’s a natural and normal thing… Just part of the process of writing.
But, my big idea here today is this: just because you don’t feel like doing something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
For musicians this relates to practicing. All musicians have to practice on a regular and consistent basis. This means that there will be plenty of times when you should be practicing but you don’t feel like it. So that’s cool–this is natural and normal. However, don’t mistake this feeling for a directive. Instead, acknowledge this feeling of not wanting to practice…and then go practice. 🙂
In the world outside of music this is also very relevant. When I had my corporate job there were a lot of things I needed to do to keep myself educated about my work: taking classes, reading up on topics, etc. And I can guarantee you that there was plenty of times when I felt overworked or just plain “under enthusiastic” and didn’t want to do any of those things. But if you take your work and vocation seriously, just have to bear down and do it.
Yes I know – easy for me to say it but very hard to do. And yes, there are certain situations when you probably should not be doing any of these things: if you’re very sick or if you’re injured. But, if I’m really honest with myself, those situations come up pretty rarely.
And this blog that you see before you? All of this is the result of me not wanting to do a thing, and then just going out and doing it anyway. Not a work of art on my part, but at least it’s something. 🙂
What are the things that are important for you to be doing that you sometimes just don’t want to do? What can you do to make them happen even when you feel that way? What are the rewards for doing it anyway, what are the drawbacks when you don’t do it?
P.S. Another thing to consider here, is that in things like writing or practicing a musical instrument, you may need to be on input mode for a bit rather than output mode. For me this means doing things that inspire my writing, or doing things that inspire my drumming. Doesn’t have to be a big thing, sometimes it can take just a few minutes. Reading an author you love, listening to music that inspires you.
And I think it’s the same in the corporate world: sometimes the reason you’re not reading up on a topic related to your vocation, or not doing activities that need to be done is that you’re lacking inspiration. So, in the corporate world, inspiration may comes through something like watching/listening to a TEDtalk or reading a business book that inspires you. Inputs like this can get you to move on and do that activity that needs to be done.