Write Until You’re At The End of Yourself

Push ideas as far as they will go

One of my favorite books on creativity is The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry.

A lot of times, I don’t like self-proclaimed “creative consultants” and “self-preneurs” who tell you about living your best life now. I prefer concrete action steps and Todd Henry gives those.

Though he works with creative people of all stripes, he offered this anecdote about a writer in The Accidental Creative:

[One writer] expressed that he didn’t feel that his writing was good enough to be shared with others. “It doesn’t have to be,” I replied. “You just need to write until you come to the end of yourself–your fear, your anxiety, your inhibitions. When you do, there may be two hundred words that are good enough to share. That’s fine. Job done. But you still have to write everyday.” Having this kind of accountability in his life has helped him stay on track and grow as a writer.”

I don’t particularly like the “write everyday” advice, no matter, I do write everyday (it’s my job). I don’t think that’s what’s important. Instead, I like this: write until you come to the end of yourself.

A lot of times I’ve had a few ideas, but didn’t jot them down or pursue them all the way. I didn’t push them as far as they could go, just to see what might happen. I didn’t write to the end of myself, I just wrote until I got bored. I stopped and took the easy way out, I rationalized it or stopped too soon. Henry continues:

“It’s far better to have a mediocre outline of a novel or business plan that can be reworked later than a vague and flittering concept that is likely to fade away from sheer inertia.”

That’s the problem right there–inertia. I get paralyzed by too many ideas rather than doing anything at all. Are you writing all the way to the end of yourself?

This piece first appeared at www.joshspilker.com.

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I’m Josh Spilker and I blog about writing and books. Join my newsletter for more on writing and creativity and get a free book…sound good?