Stop Putting So Much Pressure on Your Writing

How is writer’s block even a thing?

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

Let me ask you a serious question: are you hiding your best work and your best insight from us because you’re worried that it’s not good enough?

Not good enough for what?

Not good enough to be immune to criticism? There goes any chance that you’ll ever write anything.

Not good enough to live up to your own standards? What makes you think that your standards for yourself are at all reasonable?

Not good enough be shareable? Maybe this one doesn’t get shared much.

Not good enough to be published? Publish it yourself.

Not good enough to change everyone’s life who reads it? Now really, about those expectations of yours…

You have so much to say and there are so many people who would benefit from reading it.

The Fear of the Let Down

Sometimes success can be a double-edged sword.

I’ve noticed a consistent pattern in my writing: every time a have a story that starts to take off, my output starts to slow down.

Why? I should start publishing more, these moments are the best time to ride the wave.

It’s because I’m scared of the let down — ruining my moment in the sun with a flop that comes in beneath my lowest expectations and shatters my fragile self-confidence.

Somehow the stats come to define us. Yesterday I was worth four times as many views and fans as today — I’m such a failure!

The good news is that you aren’t your stats and your value isn’t determined by the reach of your last post.

Your Common Sense is Someone Else’s Breakthrough Insight

When we have success, it can also harm us because we feel that when we write, we need to write something really important.

Life-changing. Worldview-altering. Genre-defining.

First of all, there is plenty of good writing out there that just helps someone a little. It was a little bit encouraging, or a little entertaining, or a little interesting. It encouraged further reflection.

That’s good enough.

But there’s also the fact that you might actually have important things to say but not realize it because they are so basic to you.

None of us are in the same place on our journey in life and there are many things that you take for granted that can really help someone else.

In fact, the things that you think are basic are probably the things that you have truly internalized — making you the ideal person to write about them.

Write Like You Talk: Often

I’ll bet you that if I approached you in person and brought up a topic that you’re passionate about, you’d have plenty to say.

You wouldn’t get talker’s block.

So why is writing so different?

One answer is that we put pressure on ourselves because we know the writing is more permanent than the conversation.

If instead of asking you to tell me about your favorite topic, I asked you to record a solo podcast episode, you’d be much more likely to actually get talker’s block.

Another reason is that we all have much more practice writing than talking. Not only was there all that time in childhood when we were talking a lot but hardly writing, but there’s also the fact that it’s so hard to write more than a few thousand words a day.

(Did I say a few thousand? That’s a pretty good day. Sometimes it can be hard writing a few hundred words a day)

Almost all of us need more practice writing.

So write. Practice in public. You’ll get some criticism, but you’ll also get better.

Final Thoughts

If you haven’t been able to tell by now, this is ironically one of my “I have nothing to write today” posts.

I actually had this idea, scrapped it, couldn’t think of anything else, and then came back to it.

Why did I almost scrap it? Because of many of the same fears that are probably holding you back.

I thought it wasn’t “important” enough to share.

I though there’s already enough advice on dealing with writer’s block.

I thought it was unoriginal. I didn’t reference any material when writing, but I seem to have the impression that a number of these observations are probably strongly inspired by The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin.

So why did I publish it?

Because it might be important to you.

Because you might still feel like you need more advice on dealing with writer’s block, or at least a little encouragement.

Because chances are you haven’t read the same books that I’ve read and I shouldn’t expect you to know what they say.

Because useful thoughts are worth spreading.

The posture of the writer: Here are some of my thoughts on writer’s block. I wrote them down to share them with you. I hope you enjoyed them.