Sooner or later, you’ll figure out the truth that it’s not all just a matter of mindset and motivation.
Given the preponderance of articles assuring would-be writers that they can publish everyday and never experience writer’s block again, one might mistakenly come away with the impression that it would be a personal failing on their part if they couldn’t immediately live up to the expectations set by these pieces.
Welcome to the world of airheaded coaching advice — that is, life advice from people without a lot of experience beyond their warped, apparently struggle-less journey from their own navel to their asshole.
Yes, what a world we would live in if the only obstacle to anyone’s achievements were their lack of motivation to achieve them. What a dull world that would be, saturated with no creativity, no tension, no urgency, and no growth.
Here in reality, failure is mandatory. Here in reality, we have to set goals — not merely directions on an effortless life journey — but goals, difficult things to achieve whose difficulty makes them exciting for us.
You want to publish something everyday for an entire month?
That’s a goal.
You haven’t published much of anything in the last several years? Or, you’re new to blogging entirely? That makes the goal even sweeter.
Now already in your head, there’s this little voice that tells you that you can do it — that you can maybe even do anything. Don’t punish him or shut him out for being an idealistic idiot. No, feed him. Feed him all the little airheaded articles you can find about how success comes so easily to those who try. His name is Hope, and every little change you’ll make in your life depends on him believing that you can do it.
But you, you who are going to have to sit down at a computer and type out something new every single day for a month — you who are going to come to resent those airheaded articles and spend hours trying to crack their authors’ real formulas and real secrets — you have to face the facts.
You have to actually score the goal.
And sooner or later, you’ll learn the truth that it’s not all just a matter of mindset or motivation. It’s a hard calculus of variables not all of which you can even control.
You’re going to publish great articles some days. You’re going to publish absolute trash other days. And then — then — some days, you’re not going to have anything to say at all. It won’t make sense. It won’t follow a pattern. It won’t have to do with your diet or your routine or any of the drafting exercises you picked up from that twenty-something influencer’s god-awful personal branding workshop.
It’s just going to have to do with living in reality.
Goals are goals and not merely directions we take because there’s risk — risk that we won’t achieve them, risk that we might not even hold on to the ball. There are constant shots in the dark, not all of which land the net. And there are entire games where we might not even get the ball long enough to try.
If you want to be a writer, you have to find a way to make peace with the whole season, not just the glory of one game, not just the success, not just the resistance-less road you imagined you’d take there.
If you want to go from writing nothing at all to writing every single day for a month, you have to find a way to make peace with the weeks where you only write two or three days at most.
You have to find a way to make peace with the days where you have nothing to say and your silence threatens to drive you mad.
It’s those days, in the silence, in the darkness, in the unavoidable agony of fearing that you won’t achieve the goal that you’ve set — it’s those days that will actually make you a writer.
Anyone can choose to type everyday. Sometimes my cats even do it. But if you want to write, if you want to be a writer, it’s not just about typing or slamming the publish button when you’re done. It’s about the struggle too. It’s about the real world we live in, and the fake worlds that make it bearable.
Some days, you’ll have nothing to say.
— And that’s okay.
Other days, you’ll crack open the silence, and find a whole story waiting for you pull it free.