Why I no longer get writer's block
I wanted to write. I really did. I had so many things I wanted to share with the world.
But every time I sat at the computer, the same thing would happen. Every single time.
The ideas would disappear. I would stare for hours at a blank screen. And when I did finally start writing, I would agonise over every word.
All while other writers would produce thousands of words in a matter of hours. I knew I was doing something wrong.
And then one day it hit me when a friend asked me for advice about changing careers (I had recently gone through a career change myself).
Without hesitation, I was able to speak effortlessly about it. No endless thinking about what to say. No agonising about the structure of each sentence. And no painful pauses to perfect each word.
Why was it that when it came to writing, I found it so hard to express my thoughts?
The problem was that I was trying to write about abstract ideas and not personal experiences.
Personal experiences are so much easier to talk about. For example, writing about programming is so much harder than writing about how I learned to program.
I think we do this because writing about ideas sounds more interesting and smarter. Why would anybody be interested in my personal experiences?
But when you think about it, it’s exactly what we do when we speak.
When my friend asked for career advice, I didn’t speak about it in the abstract. I spoke directly about my experience changing jobs.
When Ricky Gervais was asked how he learned to write, he repeated the wise words of his old English teacher- write what you know
Jason Fried, when live writing an oped, said that he speaks through his fingers.
When I sit down to write, I don’t think.
I picture how I felt when I faced the problem I’m talking about and just recollect about how I overcame it.
Writing about a personal experience sounds authentic. And in a world where we’re surrounded by so-called AI experts, crypto influencers, and an ever-growing class of ‘thought leaders’, authenticity makes you stand out.
As Gervais eloquently said,
making the ordinary extraordinary is so much better than starting with the extraordinary.
So next time you find yourself struggling what to write, think back to an experience you had and relive it through your fingers.