Year after year, the number one complaint from writers and creatives starts with something like this:
When you ask people if they’re stuck in their writing or in their life, they think for a minute and the answer is usually… Well, both. No surprise: Writer’s block isn’t really writer’s block, after all, but life block. Energy block. There’s no way to be “blocked” in one but not the other. The two are inextricably linked.
Writers don’t know what to say because they don’t know what they think.
They don’t know what they think because they are out of touch with themselves.
Writing will put you back in touch with yourself. Fast. You can’t spend much time with yourself on the page and not start to see the truth of you. This is why people get stuck in their creative work and are struggling, avoiding, and experiencing so much resistance. Because in order to write, they’d have to see the truth.
David Foster Wallace has a quote perfect for the situation: “The truth will set you free… but not until it’s done with you.”
The good news
It’s a very inexpensive, accessible, totally powerful way to, according to research, reduce your anxiety, curb your depression, advance your career, improve your relationships, help you process grief and heartbreak, and even to speed up the physical healing process from illness or injury.
The cheapest form of self-therapy.
At Find Your Voice, we’ve watched writers of ALL kinds—from writers with zero experience to published authors who have sold thousands of copies and are making a full-time living from writing—experience the liberating power of putting the words on the page.
If you can get yourself UNSTUCK in your writing, you can get yourself UNSTUCK in your life.
Your career. Your love life. Your family. Your relationships.
You might have the idea that writing is this “elite” activity, that only certain people were made to do—only the really gifted or skilled or privileged or “called” (or whatever). When really, writing is just thinking. Writing is being. It’s meditation. It’s communication. Communication with yourselves and with something much bigger than you.
It’s a birthright.
Most people are missing it
The problem is most people are missing it—all the beauty and power creativity has to bring into their lives because they’re waiting for permission or a paycheck or some big social media following to do their creative work.
If you wait for permission or a paycheck to do your creative work, it’s no longer YOUR creative work. Some people do make a living doing creative things, but anyone who works in a creative field can tell you that the minute you start making money for your creative work, things change.
Now you’re not answering to your creativity anymore. You’re answering to the marketplace.
To your customers. To your “boss” (whatever that looks like).
That’s not bad. It’s just not ART. It’s business.
Again, nothing wrong with either one. But it’s important to distinguish between the two, since one will pay your rent, keep the lights on, grow your skill set, and if you’re really lucky, might even send you on a vacation or two.
But the other? It will heal you. It will pay you in dividends that may NEVER show up in your bank account. It will wake you up to parts of yourself that have LONG been offline.
It will supercharge your energy. It will shift the way you see the world and your role in it. It will improve your confidence.
It will change your life.
If you want to get unstuck, business is not the way to do it. Art is.
And art is fueled by freedom. The permission can’t come from outside; it has to come from inside. The paycheck won’t help you. And no amount of popularity or applause or coaxing from others will save you from the terrifying and beautiful moment that you actually have to show up for yourself on the page.
In fact, all those adoring fans might scare you right out of saying the thing you most need to say.
So, waste some time
Art, after all, is remarkably inefficient.
Today’s world worships productivity and efficiency, and it LOVES for things to happen lightning fast. We live in this space, trying to figure out how we can fast-track and streamline things. This is all well and good, but is the very antithesis to art. Art is a wandering, meandering path into chaos and darkness.
This isn’t the most compelling way to invite you into a creative process, but it’s also important to note that art comes with some chaos and confusion and inefficiency and wandering and play.
When people are struggling to find their voice, sometimes they can’t answer the question: “When was the last time you wasted some time?”
When was the last time you danced, and just moved your body in a way that felt good?
When asked those questions, they often think the thing that writers say over and over and over again, which is, “What if it is all for nothing…?”
Yes. What if it is?
As soon as you make peace with this possibility, you open yourself to the option that this could, instead, be the most remarkable thing you have ever done.
Art and Rebellion
One of the most common pieces of advice given to aspiring writers is, “If you want to be a writer, you have to grow a platform.”
Which can feel a little cringeworthy.
Nothing stops you from writing something great faster than trying to write something great.
It’s the difference between sitting with your best friend on a couch trying to tell her the worst thing you’ve ever done, and standing on a stage in front of 3000 strangers doing the same thing.
Where do you have the best chance of really showing up?
At Find Your Voice, we urge writers to FORGET their audience completely and instead write like it’s a love letter. The longest love letter of your whole life.
Write it like a love letter to your children, or your lover, or your partner, or your best friend. Write it like a love letter to yourself—that terrified and lonely version of yourself that is fighting for your own freaking life.
Write it like that.
Sure, it’s a beautiful thing to see someone show up vulnerably and unapologetically on a stage. And eventually every creative person would like to see his or her deepest creative gift shared with the world. But in order to share our creative gifts, we have to UNEARTH our creative gifts.
And in order to unearth them, you need privacy. Intimacy. The OPPOSITE of a stage.
So forget about your audience. Honestly. Rebel against them. Your art is your rebellion. Write it privately, in a place that no one will ever read it if you need to—write the things that you feel like you can never say. Write what you’re sure would get you booed off a stage. The great irony is… this is what the audience is dying to read, anyway.
It’s a rare and beautiful thing to meet a person who will tell you the truth.
If you’re reading this because you believe there is something beautiful and life-changing and even perhaps earth-shattering inside of you, welcome. If the fact that you’re still struggling to uncover it makes you worry that maybe you’re perhaps delusional or self-centered or that you’ve gotten it wrong, take heart.
You are in the right place. You are doing it, this inefficient, chaotic, terrifying and beautiful thing.
You are remarkable.