“I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately, I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.” – William Faulkner
We’ve all heard of writer’s block. It’s when a writer just can’t write; they have a block to new ideas and therefore cannot even begin writing their next book, blog post or article. It’s as though they are waiting for inspiration, but the inspiration never comes.
Recently an artist wrote me complaining of having “Artist’s Block.”
He was incredibly frustrated, as he got a deal he’s been wanting to get for over a decade, and yet he couldn’t create the art he needed for this dream client. He was totally blocked.
I started to think about how I broke through writer’s block recently. I had been working on my new book, ART, MONEY & SUCCESS. I had the last third of the book to write, but then had to take a break as my family and I went to Sayulita, Mexico, for a week. I planned on finishing the book as soon as I returned. But, I just couldn’t pick it up back. I was totally blocked.
The book was my “Most Important Thing” and yet I couldn’t get it done. I knew if I didn’t get the book written, I would feel like a failure.
I remembered reading how Stephen King would begin each day by sitting down at the typewriter at the same time each morning and wouldn’t get up until noon. He was committed to writing, even when he didn’t feel like it, even when he felt no inspiration.
Inspired by this, I decided to put myself on a writing schedule. I committed to writing from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. every day until the book was complete. At 10 a.m. I was free to do my other work, which includes selling Drew’s art, bookkeeping, consulting calls and other duties.
I prepared my work space to get my mind into a creative place. I placed my laptop on my kitchen table, and to the left of it I placed an 8″x 10″ visionary color pencil drawing of a girl standing in the center of a rock circle, surrounded by nature and the tree of life. (The drawing was done for me by artist Heather Mulvenna). I then placed a candle in front of the drawing along with some of my favorite crystals.
On the first day of this new commitment I sat down at 7 a.m. at my new, inspiring work space. I stared at the keys, feeling a complete lack of motivation and inspiration. The urge to get up and wash dishes, play around on Facebook, do anything other then write this book, was overpowering. But I resisted and sat at the computer.
Eventually I started writing, line by line, one at a time. The words came out wrong, the paragraphs unreadable. But I sat in that chair until 10 a.m. The next day, I sat at the computer at 7 a.m. again and picked up where I left off the day before. Day two was easier, but still clunky. By the third day, I was on a roll, the words were flowing and I had broken through the block!
Now, back to the artist who wrote me about artist’s block: He wanted to set up a consultation with me to help him overcome his block. I would have felt guilty taking his money for a consultation when the answer is so simple, so I decided to write the solution for him instead. Below is the advice I gave him.
This advice is for someone who has to get their work done for a client. Client’s can’t wait for inspiration to hit. The method for Artist’s Block below is one that is borrowed from my wise husband, Drew, who paints every day whether he feels like it or not.
CURE FOR ARTIST’S BLOCK
1 – Set up your work space; gather all of your materials and supplies, set up your table and get your chair in place. Have your space completely ready to go to work, right down to the pencils and pens and paints you’ll need. If it helps you get into a good mental state, set up music and anything else that inspires you.
2 – Sit in your work chair promptly at 9 a.m.* Turn off all phones and electronics. Get rid of all distractions (children, dogs, spouses!)
(*9 a.m. is an example, choose a time that works for you and make it consistent)
3 – Set a timer for 2 hours, begin working and don’t stop until the timer goes off. Ignore any urge to get up and leave your workspace for coffee, to have a smoke or take a pee. These are just distractions that your mind makes up to pull you away from your work.
4 – If, after your timer goes off, you still aren’t feeling motivated or inspired to continue, then take a break. Go for a walk, take a drive, call an old friend. Change your scenery.
5 – The next day, repeat. And continue to repeat each day until you have broken through your Artist’s Block!
If you follow this advice to the letter and it doesn’t work, then…..
Consider Charles Bukowski’s advice:
“If it’s hard work just thinking about doing it, don’t do it.”
What Charles is saying is this – if you aren’t feeling it, then maybe you should quit. Don’t bother with it.
BUT, if this is your profession, or if you are not ready to quit, but you’re still feeling stuck, then hire a coach to help you release your inner demons and fears.
Often, the lack of motivation to do something that we really want to do is just our inner FEAR.
To break through the kind of block that is caused by fear (rather then laziness), you’ll need professional help from a coach. That’s not the kind of coaching I do, as I focus on the nuts and bolts of business when I coach.
But there are many coaches out there that can help you break through harmful patterns and fears and other things that you don’t even know are holding you back. Get a referral for a good coach that can help you.
A great coach that comes to mind for me is one of my new favorites, “the Monk for Entrepreneurs” named Martin Stellar. I had an amazing session with him last month and he’s my favorite monk in the world. Tell him I said that; he will be surprised that I wrote about him.