Writing an endless stream of eloquent prose in one sitting is an illusion. Writing can be choppy, tedious and mechanical.
Our expectations that writing should come naturally and ideas free-flowing stifles our creativity and makes us believe we are experiencing writer’s block. When in fact, there’s no such thing as writer’s block. It’s called procrastination.
According to The Myths of Creativity, “we like stories of sudden inspiration like that of Newton and the apple…[however] these flashes of genius are actually part of a larger process of creative work…Without preparation, our mind doesn’t have much material to work with.”[i]
Igniting your creativity is similar to building muscle—in order to get stronger you have to endure long hours of training and preparation. Sometimes it’s not pretty and sometimes you don’t feel like it but there are no shortcuts. You just have to do it.
Strong communication skills—especially strong writing skills are essential for a business leader. Communicating effectively to stakeholders contributes to the organization’s effectiveness. Embrace the pain and establish strong routines which will increase your writing skills and consistency.
Here are five strategies you can use to overcome writer’s procrastination:
- Get rid of time leeches. “If I waited till I felt like writing, I’d never write at all.” Anne Tyler. Make writing a part of your routine by scheduling time in your calendar. If you don’t, something will always come up. Carve out a specific date and time to write.
- Create a retreat. Make writing a joyful experience that you’ll look forward to by having a comfy chair, good lighting, and nice artwork. Surround yourself with beauty and remove the distractions. Create an area that will increase your chances of focus.
- Be an inclusive reader. Read every day and read anything you can get your hands on: a newspaper, research report, article, novel, or self-help. Whatever it is, just read. You’ll expand your vocabulary; learn something new, and find interesting topics that you can leverage in your own piece.
- Chill out and let your mind wander. It’s okay to take a break from writing. In fact, taking a break and focusing on an unrelated task spurs creativity. When we, “shift tasks…giving ourselves permission…to wander”[ii] we sometimes find ourselves getting unstuck on the original task.
- Get out of solitary confinement and experience life. Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, and Maya Angelou lived fascinating lives. Be fascinating. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing” or better yet, do both.
Don’t over think it. The best writing is concise and crisp. So just write! What are you waiting for?
[i] Burkus, David. The Myths of Creativity. Jossey-Bass: San Fransico, 2014. Pg.31.