“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” – Ernest Hemingway
There is nothing more deterring about writing than the mental chasm of a blank page. More than that, there is nothing more deterring about writing than pre-empting the various boulders that block you from hitting publish on a post. It’s why I like to plan things, and it’s why I made a template for how to write a blog post, which you can find at the end of this post.
But I’m jumping the gun here.
I’ve been looking at blank Word documents for days. If there were a tangible, clearly identifiable and conquerable reason for why I haven’t felt like writing lately, I wouldn’t be writing this post on writing and motivation. But there are a few slippery reasons why the thought of letting your emotions guide your fingers on the keyboard can be a frightening activity. I’m going to get personal here, which isn’t something I’m wont to do on the internet. But I haven’t judged you yet, so return the favour, yeah? Cool.
Reason for not writing #1: Being an adult
It irks me to think that when I was a teenager, I thought people my age were adults. I truly believed that owning an espresso machine would catapult me into adulthood as I landed on a cozy nest of caffeinated grown-up-ness, but it hasn’t yet. Maybe this juncture comes when you have a mortgage, or you hire your first employee, or you discuss drapes with your SO. I’m not sure. But I’ve been grappling with many an adult administrative task due to a change in my living situation, and I haven’t wanted to indulge in my emotions. I’ve been busy trying to get my life in order by calling Energy Australia. You probably feel the same way too, sometimes? For example:
+ No time to write! Gotta pick the kids up from ballet and then organise my taxes. GAH!
+ I’m cleaning. Shiny windows > writing.
+ I already work too hard. Blogging can wait until I’ve caught up on 10 years of sleep.
Why this is a shitty excuse:
Everyone is wrapped up in their own realm of busyness. You’re not too busy for anything – you just have priorities. Is blogging a priority? Make it so if your goal is to write more, and write better. Don’t use your goddamn dishes as a scapegoat.
Reason for not writing #2: lack of energy
This rationale is heavily intertwined with reason #1, because #1 is often the precursor for #2. You’re busy being an adult, so you have no energetic resources to fuel your creative fire. Your adultyness has left you bereft, like an intellectual succubus that leaves you high and dry.
Hyperboles aside, working requires a lot of energy, which is arguably your most important resource. And if you’re emotionally and professionally preoccupied, you’re going to feel that when your espresso wears off. When I feel that I’m done working on client duties for the day, I arrive home in zombie mode, ready to feast on something that someone else has prepared for me. I don’t want to lift a finger to cook, let alone write my own blog posts. The clouds of mental fatigue have engulfed my brain.
Why this is a shitty excuse:
It’s not, really. I quite often find that I have enough physical energy to go for an 8km run, but not enough mental energy to churn out 800 words. But that’s all a matter of perception. As defined by the Journal of Applied Psychology:
“Mental fatigue is a psychobiological state caused by prolonged periods of demanding cognitive activity.”
It can also lead to a lack of motivation for physical activities, but this is all a matter of perception.
As researchers found:
“…mental fatigue limits exercise tolerance in humans through higher perception of effort rather than cardiorespiratory and musculoenergetic mechanisms.”
Essentially, you think you’re more tired than you actually are.
Being mentally drained is a legitimate excuse for not writing. But if you find that you’re consistently lacking in mental energy, I think you need to ask yourself how to improve these levels beyond coffee.
Segue: one time I was crazy and quit coffee and wrote about it here. You might find a useful thing or two.
Reason for not writing #3: I’m a shitty writer
After reading T.S Eliot or Anne Carson, I’m often left in a state of extreme imposter syndrome. I want to drown my audience in acerbic wit, or make them expel a hyena laugh that sees them shoot coffee from their nostrils. I want to creep inside their aortas, and make their hearts beat with the resonance of self-reflection.
But I can’t today, because I’m a garbage writer. I compare myself to the greats and wonder why Lena Dunham gets several book deals and I don’t. I’m a victim of my own good taste.
Why this is a shitty excuse:
The first draft of everything is garbage. The most esteemed writers, in fact, are the most ruthless editors. They’re open to the possibility of what their stories could be, and not beholden to a touchy ego. My ego has me tethered at times, disallowing any sense of self-awareness so that I might actually be able to cull what’s not needed and finally hit the publish button.
If you think you’re a shitty writer and want to know how to improve your writing, you need to get an editor to poke holes in your pieces. An editor provides an outsider perspective and can be quite harsh, but don’t take their legitimate feedback personally. They’re there to help you.
How to write a blog
If the thought of sitting down to type makes you feel more inclined to sit down and watch Netflix in a supine state, you need to get in the groove. You need to do other activities to aid your writing, and I’m not talking about making coffee or burning incense. I’m talking about planning and plotting and sketching an outline. Get the prep work sorted, and the flow, well…flows.
I’m talking about having a system that gets you from A to B.
Not sure how to write a blog? Lacking motivation to improve your writing? Don’t know where to begin?
Get in the groove with grace. I created this blog post planner for those times when you’re stuck in a self-imposed rut. It's part of my own unique method for creating content that's designed with a purpose.
It is, after all, how I began creating this very blog post.