Thinking through my writer’s block
Let me start by saying it is not really a “writer’s block”, it’s more like “writer’s scaries.”
One of the main reasons I haven’t been able to write anything for a long time is because I have lost the confidence in my writing abilities, and the longer I wait the harder it is to gain that confidence back.
It’s like a never ending loop. The the more time I spend without writing, the harder it gets to actually write.
However, as I always try to do with myself, I try to think about my actions and emotions and analyse them. I figured that the real reason I haven’t been able to write is because I am simply overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed by the idea of writing an entire story, be it a short story or a novel, because I feel like I don’t know how to do it anymore. I don’t think I have any good ideas. I no longer have the ability to write, that skill it takes to create a good piece of writing is gone.
Once I figured the real cause, it was time to make sense of it.
I started reasoning with myself, validating my emotions, that that’s a normal and an expected feeling to have because writing is a skill like any other skill, it needs to be practiced regularly, and if you’re not practising, of course it’s going to be rusty, and it’s going to be hard to do it as smoothly as I used to.
A light-bulb moment
For those who don’t know, one of my jobs is teaching. I’m an EFL teacher, and I like to create some fun lessons for my students. One of those lessons is a game where we each alternate in writing sentences, trying to create something that resembles a story. And while wallowing in those thoughts of uncertainty about my writing abilities, I had a lightbulb moment and it just occurred to me.. Why not use this lesson idea as an activity to get me back to writing?
I also remembered the Kaizen concept I used back in 2020 to help me get into the habit of meditating daily, and thought I can apply it here too. I’m going to take this one very small step at a time. Every day, I am going to write only one sentence—not one page, not one paragraph, one sentence.
This way, I won’t have to have a plan, I won’t have to know where the story is going, I don’t need to think about characters or world building or any of the things that I honestly forgot even how to do. All I need to do is just think about one single sentence each day to keep the story going.
I’m fully aware that I might not be able to have a full-fledged story by the end of it. I am also sure it’s not going to be the best thing I’ve ever written in my life, but I would have achieved the purpose which is to get me back to writing fiction again, without the paralysing anxiety and overwhelm that comes with attempting it.
Using this challenge to improve your life
This thought process and concept of tackling activities and projects, in my opinion, is something that can be really effective in a lot of other aspects in life.
Personally speaking, I have been doing this in other areas in my life and I have seen real improvement.
I have mentioned earlier that this was how I made it a habit of meditating daily. Another example is that I have also used this approach to get back to exercising. There was a time when I just stopped working out all together for several months—it started out because I got sick, but then I just couldn’t get back to it again.
One of the things I did was I took it one small step at a time; every day I would just do one push-up, one sit up, one squat, and one lunge; literally only one of each. It takes like 10 seconds to do it.
I kept doing only one each even if I could do more. Because the number of reps wasn’t the real goal here. The goal was the consistency of doing this every day. I’d rather do one push up every single day, than 50 push ups once every few weeks; in the long run, small but consistent steps make the real difference. Slow and steady wins the race, right?
When it’s such a small action that takes very, very little time to complete, the possibility of you procrastinating it or feeling too lazy to do it is just not there, because the time it will take you to think about procrastinating it, you would have already completed it, so might as well just do it.
Eventually, it becomes a habit that you do without actually thinking about it, like washing your face in the morning, it won’t need as much mental strength or willpower to complete anymore.
Are you up for the challenge?
Now take a moment and think about this.
What is a skill that you feel like you want to improve or a habit that you want to acquire?
Then think about how you can break it down into very, very small steps that you can do every day. Just a small step to get better at that thing you want, only 0.1% every day.
Sometimes we want to do something or have an idea that is just hanging over our head, but we don’t have enough motivation to get started; sometimes we need that extra push to take the first step.
If there is such a thing that comes to your mind, then why not take this opportunity and use me as your motivating buddy who is telling you come on, let’s do it! We can try and improve our life, just a teeny tiny little bit each day.
I set this as a challenge to start September 1st and lasts for 30 days, only so that we can have a plausible goal. So you can see how far you’ve come and measure your progress looking back when you get to the end of the month, if it’s become a little bit easier for you to practice that habit from day 1 to day 30.
But of course it doesn’t mean that it will end on September 30th. In fact, it shouldn’t end, that would actually defeat the purpose.
The whole purpose of this is for you to continue to do this every day until it becomes a habit that you keep improving, and once that becomes a habit that you’re doing effortlessly, then you can go ahead and think of something else you’d like to improve and follow the same strategy again.
That’s how we continue to develop, and that’s really the point of this concept. The Kaizen concept is that it’s a continuous improvement; how we can minimize procrastination and time wasting and maximize our efficiency, productivity, and self improvement.
And it is exactly what I have been trying to do with the different challenges I’ve run in the past under #TheRayChallenge as well, trying to improve our life and that of those around us, one small step at a time.
So, if you decide to follow along in September, do let me know, I would love to cheer you on!
I don’t use Twitter (or X) as much now, like a lot of other people I know, but we used to use the hashtag there sometimes to follow each others’ progress back when I used to run these challenges regularly.
However, whether or not you use Twitter, and whether or not you want to share your goal with me, it doesn’t matter. The point is, JUST DO IT.