We’ve all been through this phase, where we invent excuses to justify why we don’t write. The words just won’t come out, and we tell ourselves it’s not our fault, that there are forces beyond our control at play. This is the first myth we tell ourselves, because yes, we can! We just need to put in the effort, to buckle down with pen and paper (or a keyboard, if that’s our fancy), and to force the words OUT. We all possess the tools to write, it’s just that we sometimes lack the power to USE them!
There are four common myths that restrict this power, four excuses we must banish from our minds:
- I don’t know how to write.
FALSE. Now I’m not talking about writing from an academic standpoint. We’ve all struggled with the mundane five-paragraph essay. I’m talking about writing as a catharsis, as an outlet for creative expression, as a way to release our conscious thoughts out into the world. Whether you write poetry or prose, deal with fantasy or reality, or randomly spew words out onto the page without rhyme or reason, you CAN write.
- I don’t have anything to write about.
Also FALSE. Jot down the first thoughts that pop into your head, observations from the world around you, snippets of conversations you’ve had or overheard. Force yourself to do prompts off the internet until the words flow freely.
Don’t strive for perfection. Author David Foster Wallace said, “Perfectionism is very dangerous, because of course if your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything” (http://blankonblank.org/interviews/david-foster-wallace-on-ambition/#interview-notes-section). The truth is perfection does not exist.
Put words on the page. Cross them out, add to them, glue glitter all around them, whatever works. Just get them out! We are all guilty of uttering the words, “I have nothing to write about,” to avoid writing altogether. We need to stop these words from escaping our lips.
- I don’t have the time to write.
Not to be redundant here, but FALSE. I am guilty of succumbing to this myth more times than I’d like to admit, but aren’t we all? We stare into a blank expanse of white begging to be filled with words, turning away because X, Y, and Z needs to be done. We have to read this, or go out and buy that thing we need, or meet up with someone any minute, or…you get my point. But, wait, are we really that busy? I’ll go ahead and answer this one for you: NO.
Every single day we have at least a half hour during which we could – and should – be scribbling in our notebooks or typing on our computers. Hell, I bet half of us spent a half hour this morning contemplating our ceiling tiles as we stretched out in bed. And plenty of us suspend our lives by binging on Netflix or scrolling through Facebook for hours!
I’m not saying we have time to always write brilliantly, or fill hundreds of pages, but every day we have an invaluable allotment of time. We need to use it!
- What I write doesn’t matter.
And finally, FALSE. We’re all unique, marching through the world with our own perspectives, our own personal mantras, and our own stories. Writing is our chance to unleash all this.
It is so easy to succumb to writer’s block, to maintain the myths that hinder us daily. It’ll be challenging to overcome all this. But it’ll be so worth it. Challenge yourself. Just write.
***If you’re interested, the ever-eloquent Cracked.com has a related article, 5 Tips For Punching Writer’s Block in the Face that can assist you with WHAT to write, once the words start flowing. I’d give it a glance!