“I have written 11 books but each time I think ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’” —Maya Angelou
I spoke to a group of writers in St. Louis last month about how to break through writer’s block and nurture their creativity in our busy world.
This workshop had been scheduled for awhile, and at first I was excited — I wrote a whole book on this topic, and it was an honor to be invited to speak.
As the date crept closer, my excitement morphed into anxiousness.
I tried to write an outline… then got stuck.
I tried to say something beautiful… then convinced myself that “I’m rusty,” that “I’m not even a writer” (ummm… what?!), that “They should have asked someone else,” and all sorts of negative stories I created.
My self-esteem plummeted. My outline stayed blank. (Sounds a little like, erm… Writer’s Block.)
The problem was that I wanted my speech be THE magical salve that altered the course of their lives forever.
I wanted to hand them an ancient secret on a platter, to be the one shining teacher who finally told them something they had never heard before.
I wanted my sixty-minute workshop to erase all of their creative challenges for eternity.
I wanted to be “special.”
I wanted to be perfect.
And that pressure I put on myself to be perfect was holding me back from serving them fully.
Here’s the deal:
You don’t have to be perfect.
You don’t have to blow their minds.
You don’t have to have the most rags-to-riches story in the room.
Showing up in your unique energy, fully expressed as you are, and sharing from your heart is what will change people’s lives. Not a list of bullet points you memorize or a “secret” you share. Your juiciness is in your energy and your willingness to be real in the moment.
Once I was reminded of that truth, this time by Glennon Doyle’s Instagram stories, I got the momentum I needed to finish the outline for my talk.
I opened the workshop by sharing the unfortunate truth that “Writer’s Block” existed before we were born and will continue to exist after we’re gone.
I told them that I wished I could get rid of Writer’s Block forever… but since that wasn’t possible, I would do the next best thing:
* Remind them of who they are
* Provide a space for us to collectively share our advice, stories, and exercises to help us weather the creative slumps
I shared my five pillars of living a creative life, and I reminded everyone that we are vibrant creative artists.
I pointed out that by showing up at all, we’re already doing more than most people. I told them they are okay, that they are right on time, that famous artists experience Imposter Syndrome too.
And then both myself & the attendees shared our juicy tips on the subject. Every single person in that room was a writer of some kind — why not open up the floor to inspire each other?
Was the workshop the most mind-blowing thing they ever experienced? Probably not.
Did it solve all of their problems forever? Definitely not.
Did people leave inspired? Did anyone find value in it? Did words get written because of it? Yes! And I am so grateful.
Did we connect and share lunch afterwards and drink iced tea and talk about romance novels under a beautiful almost-fall Midwestern sun? Absolutely.
Your original goal as an artist was to tell stories and help people.
Sometimes we lose sight of that goal in an effort to impress people.
Sometimes we see the flood of art and information on the internet, and we sink into inertia — how could our work possibly matter when everything has already been said?
When you start to notice thoughts like this, stop in the moment and wrap your arms around yourself. Tell yourself:
“Beautiful human, you have so much to offer. It’s okay to be afraid that you don’t have a place in the world. But that fear isn’t fundamentally true. I love you. I forgive you. You don’t have to be the best artist ever. You just need to show up and say what’s coming through for you.”
Our world has enough “experts” who teach from the head. Let go of any expectations of being perfect, and pour your whole heart into showing up as you are. You are already enough.
Peace & Light,
PS I really did write a book on writer’s block, and you can check it out here! But I want you to know that every “expert” is still human, still learning, still unraveling the lessons at higher levels as we move through this journey. Give yourself that same grace. xx