This is one of many quotable passages from Tim Ferris' excellent new book, Tools of Titans (not a plug, I don't know Tim - wish I did 😄, but the book happens to be excellent and actionable on many levels). I'm not going to write about the book, which is essentially an accumulation of all of his interviews from The Tim Ferris Show (his #1 rated podcast on iTunes), and instread I'm going to take those passages, excerpts, and pieces of advice from all of his guests and try to relate them to something in my own writing process, or life in general, for whatever value it may bring to you or I.
So to begin with the above quote, credited to Seth Godin (NY Times bestselling author of over 17 books), I must confess that writing book 2 is much more of a challenge than writing book 1. This is due to a few factors, some of which are personal to my own life situation as a father of 2 small children, a doctoral candidate, and a full time teacher. But some of it, I have to imagine, is somewhat 'universal' to the writing process in some way, whether it's a specific book 2 issue or not. For me, having the summer off, paired with the excitement of seeing whether or not I could actually go through this process and make my dream into reality, was enough of a push to get it written, edited, and published within a window of 2 months or so.
To fast forward to now, it's a much , much slower process. Some of that's just the practicality of not having much time, and figuring out how to make space to write within a life filled with responsibilities. But I'm hardly the only indie author with such a balance. Larger than that, I made the mistake of using that nebulous term that appears in the quote above, whenever I'd find myself (which is often) staring at a blank notepad, or struggling for ideas, or just straight up being inactive for days on end. "Damn, I must have writer's block.", I'd lie to myself, as though there were such a thing; as though 'writers block' wasn't just a name given (by writers btw) to a generalized feeling of being stuck in No Ideas Land. By then I read the above quote and realized how true it rang. So-called "writer's Block" isn't a cognitive disorder; it isn't neurological, it can't be prescribed medicine by a doctor. What it is is inaction- a sort of paralysis that can be caused largely by psychological factors that impact us all in our lives: pressure, insecurity, fear of failure, inability to concentrate, feelings of being overwhelmed, poor time mangagement, and so forth. So I decided to not just capture quotes that I find interesting or intriguing, but to make them somehow actionable in my own life, to some degree. Without that the quotes are meaningless; a mental handful of popcorn that tastes great for a few seconds and then is gone. So in this case I've decided to stop labeling a thing to take away its power, and instead find strategies to combat the actual things (listed above) that we choose to call 'writer's block'. Some strategies I've employed over the last week include:
a.) creating free space - even if it's as short as 20'minutes.
b.) 2 crappy pages a day - this is directly from Tools of Titans. The idea here is getting out of a psychological rabbit hole of frustration and inaction - editing exists for a reason, so rather than setting goals that are difficult to reach (e.g., 3,000 words a day, every day), set the bar for success lower as a way to get unstuck (or, if you prefer, unblocked). This way you can produce every day, and accumulate pages in a way that (while in need of major edits) certainly won't make you feel 'blocked' - and if you can do more, then do so!
for more on this, there's a short, 10 minute video just published on Big Think (which I subscribe to on YouTube), in which Ferris himself discusses this regarding many avenues of life (e.g., losing weight, being more productive, etc.). You can find that video, if interested, here- and in the meantime I'm off to go write 2 crappy pages.: https://youtu.be/4a9GTtTUsIc