I have read on several occasions that the first rule of writing is to keep writing even though you have nothing to write. It seems like sage advice, no doubt handed down from seasoned and accomplished writers over the years. However, on the surface it did seem to me to be counter intuitive. How can I write something if I’m not inspired or “feeling it”? It all sounds a bit too easy. Besides, who would want to read it?
I suppose the logic behind this advice is that action in itself will get the juices flowing again. The key is to remove the blockage, the proverbial “cork” that holds back the creative process using simple shear will. In the business world, this idea was best described as the “flywheel” in Good To Great. Once you get the wheel going, momentum will take over and it will spin much faster on it’s own.
It is not a huge leap to see how this approach applies to any creative exercise, whether it be music, art or dance. And not only that, but any kind of activity that brings you joy and energy in the doing. What is it that keeps us from just buckling down and plowing forward? Is it a lack of confidence? Fear? Fatigue?
Whatever the reason, I find that it tends to lose its weight and power when I simply start inching forward. A little more confidence enters. A little less fear intimidates. Energy starts to revitalize a tired mind and body. Then suddenly you are humming along again at a good and fulfilling pace. This inevitably is followed by a thought that questions why you took so long to get going in the first place. Perspective changes much in life.
A blank sheet of paper, however it looks like for you, can seem like a mocking adversary. It stares at you with invisible accusing eyes. Or instead, could it really be an invitation, an opportunity to turn it into something meaningful and rewarding. Perhaps there is something to that old wisdom, offering little except the command to pick up the pen, click the top and roll that ball across the page, only after to discover what comes out.
If you have not yet realized, this post was the result of such an exercise. And this is what came out. If it helps you in any way, it was worth it. To be honest, it was already worth it to me, not only to finish, but to start. What do you need to start today and what is keeping you from picking up your “pen”?