So you hate writing and avoid it like the plague, or force yourself to do it and then hate the results? Buckle up, buckaroo, ’cause I can help.
Often, what makes writing SO painful or SO terrible is feeling horribly confined by circumstances. Not a little confined, like keeping a piece to 400 words, but horribly confined, like not being able to talk about anything you find interesting or important.
Writing is freedom put to paper. Anything less than freedom feels like torture.
When I felt like I could ‘only’ talk about business topics like marketing and making more money and making blog posts more interesting/pretty/clickable here on the blog, I wasn’t nearly as happy with my writing as I am now. Also, and of course: I didn’t get nearly as many tearful e-mails that thanked me for helping people unlock bits of themselves, deep down.
When you want to talk about the state of politics in the nation and you ‘have to’ talk about the photos you’ve just made or the necklaces you’re selling or the classes you’ve created, you end up in a shitty spot from which your brain screams “This isn’t fair!” and you agree.
You don’t ‘have to’ limit your writing to a single topic. Ever.
While there are many who will point you down narrower and narrower roads in business, my guess is that you’ll soon find those roads claustrophobic.
What if you’re allowed to talk about all of it? What if you let yourself talk about the entirety of your life even though you sell shoes or bags or photos or songs or paintings or diapers or keychains?
What if you were allowed to talk about those shows you binge-watched on Hulu, or how tired you are from travel, or how you long for the sea? How you made community from going to breakfast each morning, how you really can’t freaking stand six-pillar programs that cost lots of money, or how you fight depression over and over and over again?
While these aren’t traditionally ‘business’ topics, they’re topics I’ve written about simply because they’re interesting to me. They’re facets of my life as an entrepreneur and as a writer.
At the opposite end of interesting, you’ll create writing that bores the shit out of you.
So, you’ll dutifully write and dutifully attach your bored energy to it, then send it out into the world with its little bored backpack and its little bored rainboots and it will generate little bored responses wherever it goes.
It’s unfair to ask your bored writing to create excitement. Only excited writing can create that response! Same goes for the marketing materials you create when bored, or the offers you try to promote when bored: you’ll get more bored in return.
At its root, writing is about giving yourself permission to say whatever wants to be said. Even if it’s uncomfortable, tired, dull, awkward, or seemingly unrelated to the topic at hand. Even if it’s slightly or mostly or entirely controversial. Even if it’s sure to offend a customer or two.
If you’re not turning anyone off, you’re not turning anyone on, anyway, so you might as well go for fucking broke. Take a stand, make some statements, shake things up. Tell the deepest truth about the nightmares you’ve lived or are currently living.
People need truth, not fluff and polish. They need the deep-down, hard-to-hear streams of light that come barreling through your darkness. And they need them now.
So, with full permission to write whatever wants to be written and with utter disregard for the boring, safe topics that appear, we begin.
You’re likely to find anything at all more interesting than writing in this moment. Your curtains are dirty, your socks aren’t properly organized, your tax returns haven’t been filed correctly. Anything is better than telling the truth. This is the voice of procrastination. It lies. Keep going into your work.
Start a timer for 20 minutes and sit with your notebook. Write whatever happens down. Even if it’s a journal entry or absolute garbage. Write it down. If you start weeping, write it down. If you start laughing, write it down.
Putting five true words to a page is better than churning out the endless ‘content’ of the modern age.
As you write, you’ll naturally encounter inner naysayers. They’ll say that what you’re writing was better in your head. They’ll remind you that you’re nobody. You’re useless. You’re worthless. You suck at this. Your brain is an asshole.
(It’s only twenty minutes. You can do this.)
Keep putting pen to paper. You can write down what your brain is saying. You can fight against your brain’s inner voice, or you can just record it for posterity. Oh, you think I’m a useless piece of shit whose story is worthless? You think no one will ever read this and that if they do, they’ll think it’s the dumbest thing they’ve ever read? I’m recording you right now.
Read your asshole voice its Miranda rights: anything it says can and will be used against it in the court of writing law. Any triumph you have and every reader you find will be used as evidence against this fucker who’s trying to wreck your writing each day.
In those last few minutes, you’ll have either: gotten into the flow in which time does not exist, or struggled to live through the longest minutes of your life.
Notice which one is happening. You’re aiming for flow, but sometimes it isn’t possible. Like meditation, like yoga, like having a good day with your kids, like sleep: sometimes it’s great, and sometimes it isn’t.
Try not to judge yourself for the writing day you’re having. Then, promise to show up tomorrow.
The more frequently you write, the less each individual session means to your total output. Twenty minutes once a month? DEAR GOD THE PRESSURE TO GET IT RIGHT. Twenty minutes every day? Eh. If not today, tomorrow. I’ll get it right someday.
When you can alleviate the pressure to get it exactly right in this moment, you’re freer to try new shit that goes somewhere. You’re freer to express your ideas, to keep going in the directions you find most interesting, and to keep the asshole in your brain at bay.
To recap: if you’re bored, your peeps are bored. Give yourself permission to write whatever comes to mind. Then sit down and freaking write for twenty freaking minutes. Ignore your asshole brain and keep writing. Don’t judge. Try again tomorrow.
Permission to crush it, kill it, suck, fail, bite the big one, hate your work, love every sentence, and/or clean the curtains again: granted. You can’t do this wrong.
As for what to share? You can share outtakes. You can share snippets. You can share your work, or what’s not working, or all the asshole things your brain said today. You can even share what you’ve written. (This is hardest of all, and takes practice, but is the most rewarding option available.)
The point is to let whatever wants to happen, happen. Now go, get to writing.
P.S. Sell your services better with this writing technique.