When the easiest route becomes the hardest

by Suw on May 10, 2023

Today’s post is brought to you by the battle of trying to come up with today’s post.

If there’s one form of writer’s block that trips me up consistently and frequently, it’s the mistake of trying to find the easiest thing to write instead of working out what the right thing to write is. This is particularly problematic when blogging, writing newsletters, or pitching articles, but it sometimes pops up with my fiction writing too. I end up wasting so much time trying to come up with the simplest, easiest idea that I honestly could have just waded in to a more complex idea and still had it finished sooner.

Whilst the obvious cause of this kind of block is time scarcity, as per my previous posts, there’s also quite a bit of performance pressure that I’m putting myself under:

  • I want to write a post that’s insightful and that gives you some sort of “Ah-ha!” moment, so that you come away feeling that your time has been well-spent.
  • I want a subject that’s meaty enough that I can give you a nice long post to sink your teeth into.
  • I want to be able to write the post swiftly and easily (yes, even the long ones).
  • I want to feel perhaps just a little bit clever at having come up with this perfect idea.
  • And I want to know that all the above is going to be true as soon as I have the idea.

Except, sometimes, my brain just doesn’t play ball. On those occasions, I end up scrolling through my list of subjects to tackle and discounting them one by one because they are too complicated, or they need too much research, or they don’t speak to me at this particular point in time, or they feel just wrong somehow.

And then I slip into a frame of mind that starts to feel a bit like panic. By this point, I’ve already wasted an hour and I’m starting to feel desperate. If I’d committed to a more complex idea an hour ago, I’d be done by now. Then, when I do commit, the writing part feels like pulling teeth. I’ll do ten minutes, get distracted by another task, do that, then go back to where I was and find I’ve lost the thread.

And on, and on.

And then I get to about this point in the article and get stuck. I’m looking for a conclusion, some way to tie all this up with a nice little bow so that you can all say, “Well, that was clever!”

And the truth is, sometimes, that just doesn’t happen. Sometimes, you find an opening, but you can’t find the closer. You manage, despite the tornado of crap in your head, to get started, but you cannot finish.

And you know what? That’s OK. Sometimes there isn’t a neat little way to tie things off. Sometimes you have to take the thin gruel that the universe gives you and just live with it. It’s OK to not perform at 100 per cent all the time. It’s OK to have off days. You are not perfect, I am not perfect, and perhaps instead of striving to be perfect we can sit together for a moment in our imperfection, make peace with it, let it be what it is, and then move on and write something different on another day.

There is no bow. There’s just the best we can do in the moment.

Today, this is my best. And it is enough.

Andrew Jacobs May 15, 2023 at 9:35 pm

Yep – had this before.

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