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Writer’s block is just a myth

By Peter Opondo | July 14th 2021

When you engage in any creative enterprise like writing you will often be confronted with what has been described as writer’s block.

The deadline is fast approaching, the editor is waiting for your article but the mind is frozen. You are staring onto a blank page. You can barely type a coherent sentence. You type, delete. Type, delete. Nothing makes sense. What to do? Do you walk away…give up?

I have often pondered these questions until I recently came across Seth Godin’s latest book, The Practice- Shipping Creative Work in which the author argues that the writer’s block is a myth, a baseless story that we tell ourselves when confronted with fear- fear that we may not do a good or perfect job, not meet certain expectations.

To accept the writer’s block, according to Godin, is like expecting to run a marathon and not get tired. The only difference between the few who finish a marathon and the majority who don’t is that the finishers “know where to put their tired”.

“Everyone who creates feels resistance. Everyone who is seriously engaged in the deep effort of inventing and shipping original work feels the fear… the question is, where do you put the fear?”

As a broadcast editor, I have come to appreciate that my prime-time news bulletin doesn’t go on air because it is ready, it goes on air because it is seven or nine o’clock! That is the time we have committed to with our viewers and so have to ship, ready or not. Often many of the stories in the bulletin are not ready by the time of going on air! According to Godin, we don’t ship because we are creative; we are creative because we ship.

The writer Isaac Asimov published more than 400 books, how did he do that? By simply waking up every morning, getting in front of his typewriter, and typing. Says Godin; “We don’t write because we feel like it. We feel like it because we write.” Any project worth doing is worth starting.

So next time you feel stuck- when you hit the so-called writer’s block- just show up, start and commit to the process. The muse will find you down the road. 

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