Boundaries, Imperfection, Practice, Resistance, Self-Care

Intentionally start and intentionally stop

I was speaking today with creative friends about out work today.  

We’ve each rolled around to where the work is a drag. One friend is feeling dried up. Another is struggling with back pain; it’s literally painful for her to sit. Me? I’ve been feeling worn down, dried up, and a bit overwhelmed.  

How to deal with writers block and dry spells is an age old question. The three of us met in a Seth Godin workshop. He’s in the writers write, plumbers plumb school on the subject—you won’t hear about a plumber having plumber’s block, why should a writer get to have writer’s block.   

That said, one friend pointed out plumbers take vacations. Plumbers take personal days from time to time.  

I think many writers get superstitious about taking days off. I know I often believe that one day off leads to two (months).  

The same friend suggested this: intentionally start and intentionally stop. As I’m writing this, those words seem to have all the punch of a joke you had to be there for. But the procrastination that keeps me from my work feels at best semi-intentional, and really seems to happen in a kind ritualized somnambulance. Intention feels like a real answer.  I could simply start with intention—then stop.  

Imperfection, Resistance

Going it Alone

It’s worth saying, going it alone doesn’t work well.  

Even a diamond, the quintessence of a hardened solitary object requires outside pressure to form. But not just that.  

It must be found and unearthed. It must be appraised and polished. It must be set in a foundation, or placed on a luxurious velvet pillow for display.  

And even diamonds play best with others—set against other diamonds, rubies, emeralds, silver and gold.   

Believing it’s best to go it alone won’t change the fact I only exist in the context of others and do best when I acknowledge and work with that.   

Imperfection, Resistance, Writing

When a Dry Spell Ends

As I remember it, in a class I took with Josh Ritter, he said, I don’t believe in writer’s block, but I do believe in dry spells. Dry spells happen, and I think they happen in every profession.  

At the restaurant I earn my money in, there are days I feel great about my work. And there are days I feel bad about it as well.  

There are days I start off feeling great about the work and by the end it changes. There are also days I start off feeling awful about the work, and by the end, it changes. 

For a writer, (or any person who is their own boss), there’s a temptation to think there’s a choice to show up or not. If a person has a boss, they show up and do the work when they’re scheduled because it’s how they keep the job. There’s an axiom which says early is on time, on time is late, and if you are late, you’re fired. Which is to say, lots of people view work for the perspective of a hammer looking for a nail; It’s something you do whether you want to or not.  

A different way frame could be: 

When you show up you never know what will happen. 

Sooner or later the dry spell ends.  

And it will end while doing the work.  

It never ends otherwise. 

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Boundaries, Resistance

Reading the News

One of the lessons of Tiny Habits is to simply watch what I’m already doing, (without judgment) and build on that. This is a way of looking at where my motivations lie. (It’s also a lesson of from animal trainers—try as I might, climbing a tree is a behavior I’m not likely to elicit from a seal).   

Interesting things that come out of this. For instance, in my mind, I’d love to be someone who doesn’t read the news. There’s a lot of judgment and effort I’ve put into not reading the news. 

Yet, I still do it daily.  

I’ve found I can build habits into my life that preclude reading so much news, and also that I actually just enjoy reading the news.  

There’s a chance I just haven’t tripped over the correct approach to excluding news from my life. There’s also a really good chance that all the judgment and shame I lay on myself over my news reading habit is just wasted energy.