When The Well Is Empty
I have a confession to make. Podcasting and writing is hard. It's brutal. It's hours of sitting there looking at an empty word processing document trying to figure out what I want to say. Sometimes, the words just dont come at all. The jokes arent there. The message is floating out there in the ether somewhere, and I can't reach it. And that is when I fire up the social media timehole and get lost. It's a distraction that ends up wasting my time. In his book The War Of Art, Steven Pressfield calls this 'The Resistance'. It's really ther temptation do do anything other than the work. It's checking your email, or the Twitter feed, or Facebook, or the soccer game, or catching up on that TV series that you've been meaning to binge watch. Its anything other than doing what you're supposed to be doing at that moment--your job.
So, my question is this: Who are you helping by scrolling down a Twitter feed aimlessly instead of writing that post? Who are you giving any inspiration to by catching up on Arrow instead of creating that podcast? Who are you engaging while you're lost in watching cat videos?
You're helping no one, and you're feeding on empty calories. Social Media is the junk food of the internet, if you let it be. Dont get me wrong, it's a great connection tool, but its a plate full of Thin Mints. Before you know it, a full sleeve of the box is gone, and you wonder how in the hell you ate so much of it.
Here's what I do. I think about who I'm helping by writing or recording what Im about to do. I turn off my social media. If I must get up and go do something else, I read the things I've saved to my Evernote account offline, or I fire up my kindle and go sit on the couch for 30 minutes and read something that feeds my brain properly. I don't recommend fiction if you do this, I find myself distracted by painting the picture too much. I read things that require reflection. For example, I found this collection of Stoic writing for 99 cents in the Kindle Store.
Whhen i sit down to write, I take it one sentence at a time. if I can write one sentence, I find I can connect that to a second one, and as I continue it gets easier until my fingers are flying on the keyboard. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is just get started. Sometimes, I'll just start writing in a stream of nonsense just to get the brain unlocked. After about 5 or 20 minutes of writing crap that has no purpose whatsoever gets the brain working, so that when I think I'm ready, I find it easier to chhange to the topic I wanted to write about.
Sometimes, the best thing for me to is go for a walk. A good 15 or 20 minute walk helps just to get away and get outside and get some fresh air.
Finally, I might talk it out with Loon. Sometimes, all I need to do is put the problem into a sentence, and once I say it out loud to someone else, it comes to me. Loon, bless him, knows when I'm genuinely asking him a question or if Im starting some stream of conscious babble in order to talk myself through a problem. He basically just stares at me while the rusty wheels start turning and then goes back to what he's doing.
That's what I do when that well is bone dry. Most of the time it works.
What do you do when your well is empty? I'd love to hear about it.