Another wasted day from writer’s block?
What if I told you that I would pay you $1,000.00 to write a two thousand word piece today about anything? Anything! No rules about subject, genre, style or purpose. Fiction or non-fiction. Would that pique your interest?
Wait! That’s not all! What if I said that I would pay you that $1,000.00 – today, in cash, immediately after I had the 2,000 words in my hot little hands – for just the first draft? That’s right, the first. The one that came from that first session of your fingers flying across your keyboard to reach 2,000 words without regard for structure, spelling, punctuation, content flow, etc.
Would you stop what you were working on and write something? I mean, that’s not bad pay, is it? Especially when you consider there would be no proofreading, editing, rearranging or rewriting. Just type ’til you hit 2,000! And, if you’re inclined to do the math, I should be somewhere around 200 words by the time I finish this paragraph, and I’ve only been thinking and typing for about five minutes! That’s $40.00 a minute… $2,400.00 per hour! Yikes almighty!
What if I had caught you in the middle of a horrendous case of writer’s block with your current WIP, would you stop and take the time to throw something together to get paid NOW? At the very least, you would entertain the idea for a few minutes, right?
Great! (Assuming that you accepted the challenge.)
What would you write? Would you, with those requirements, be concerned that nobody would find it interesting but you? Would you be concerned that you couldn’t finish by the end of the day? Who cares, I said “anything”! (Look! I’m at 300 words now!).
BACK TO EARTH
I’m sorry, but I can’t make that offer. I just looked in my wallet and there’s nothing but a couple of receipts, a raffle ticket (Nope. I didn’t win.) and an old Band-Aid that probably wouldn’t stick to a strip of two-sided tape at this point.
But all is not lost!
Remember that moment, up there? I’m talking about the one, where you were reading the first couple of paragraphs, and you had a thought or two that went something like this:
“Yeah, like that’s gonna happen! But, if this guy’s serious, I’ll just send him a 2,000 word rant about how mad it makes me when my mail delivery person leaves my mailbox ajar on rainy days! That’ll teach him!”
Well, go with it!
I know, I know… “But, you already said you couldn’t make that offer!”
True! But, are you really going to sit there and cater to writer’s block just because I’m broke?
INSPIRATION FROM FRUSTRATION
Do you want to know what made me decide to write this today (or have you already figured it out)?
This morning, full of hope, anticipated inspiration and coffee, I sat down to attack my current project. I opened the file, went to “full-screen” (no distraction mode) and… nothing. It was happening.
Wait! In my last post, “Writer, Do You Know Your Job Description”, I said that I am a member of the “practice what you preach” club? I sure did! So I gave myself an imaginary slap in the face, grabbed my little scratch pad and went outside to sit on the porch for a few minutes.
On the scratchpad, from the other day, I had scribbled the very first line of this piece.
I started thinking about what was going through my mind when I wrote those words.
I was sitting on my porch, taking a break, thinking about ways to overcome writer’s block. That led to me thinking about all the times I “wrote on command” in previous work settings. Well, that’s easy to figure out. I was guaranteed money for that time.
LESSON FROM THE PAST
I also remembered the time, long ago, when I wanted to see what selling cars would be like. I showed up for my interview and followed the manager into his tiny office, which was located in the middle of the showroom floor. He left the door open. There were several customers and other dealership employees quietly going about their business. He sat down and directed me to sit in the chair by the door. Game on.
As I sat down, he leaned forward, picked up his stapler and placed it in front of me.
“Sell that to me.” is all he said.
I sat there, stunned for a moment. Then, I understood.
If I wanted the job, I had to prove that I was willing to do it. Whether I “felt like it” or not. Even if, at that moment, I was not selling what I wanted to sell, getting paid for it and there was no “real” customer. I had to prove that I knew the basics of selling. In short, he was telling me “You want to be a salesman? Then sell something. Anything.” So I did.
I didn’t get that job. The interview ended with him telling me to see if I could get a job in sales somewhere “less demanding” than the car business for a while, and then come back.
I never went back to that dealership, but I did work a few sales jobs and eventually landed a job selling cars for a bit, but it didn’t last long.
Oh, I did fine. I sold plenty of cars and with plenty of profit overall. As a matter of fact, I went quickly into management, and continued through a few promotions until I ended up training people like the guy that had asked me to sell the stapler. I’m just not a car salesman. I’m a writer.
SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING
So, on days when my current project is sitting across from me – daring me, like that sales manager, to do something I’m not quite up to at the moment, I choose something over nothing and move to something “less demanding” for a while.
I put the big project away and look at the randomly scribbled notes on my scratch pad.
More often than not, I find inspiration in those moments (like today), though many times they end up more exercise than execution, and I have plenty of “dead files” to show for it! But I wrote. And, even though many of those writings will never be seen by anyone but myself, I was a better writer by the next day because of them.
I suppose you could call that quitting, lazy, or settling. But then again, how much good would I have done had I refused to leave that manager’s office once I realized I wasn’t going to get the job right then? Remember, I eventually ended up with the “big job” and I surpassed my original expectations in the process, but I didn’t do it by being stubborn to the point of zero progress. I backed up to a point that matched my capabilities at that moment and worked from there.
There are plenty of days when I just reschedule my effort and go do something else for a while, but I can’t do that all the time. So, instead of just sitting there frustrated until the day’s over or quitting early altogether, I move to another project. I give my creativity a break without sacrificing the whole day to nothing. I may not have achieved exactly what I had originally intended for the day, but I will have something to show for it. That makes me happy. When I’m happy, I get creative. See where this is going?
The point I’m trying to make here is simple. If you’re not feeling up to working on your “big” project, try working on something that’s a little “less demanding”. Even if it’s not demanding at all! Heck, it might even be fun! And the win/win of it all… at the end of the day, you’ll still be a writer!
So, today I took my challenge! (Don’t worry, I’m not getting paid $1,000.00 for meeting this challenge today either!) I looked at my scratchpad and just started writing. It beats sitting here staring at my stapler all day!
LET ME KNOW!
Thankfully most days aren’t like that, but we all have them and that’s one way I deal with mine. How do you deal with days like that? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to leave your answer in the comments below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for spending time with me!