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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Podcasts Post No. 2: There's no such thing (as writer's block)

I heard a recommendation for the new Seth Godin podcast titled Akimbo and thought I'd check it out. I'd seen some of his past TED talks and blogs and thought it might be thought-provoking.

As I listened to the first episode, I was definitely NOT taken with it. But I think it's always fair to give something another chance, so I listened to another episode titled, "No such thing (as writer's block)." This one  definitely got my attention.

Before I go any further, I want to warn you: The podcast is incredibly lean: no interviews, no music, few ads. Just Godin talking. And his delivery is a little awkward and slow. I feel like I'm listening to a former student who has a huge brain and sometimes has a hard time getting all that smart stuff out of his mouth in coherent form. But it does allow me to take in what he's saying.

As a former English major and editor and very occasional writer, the title of the podcast drew me in. He says writer's block is a privilege that writers (all creatives, really) claim that is not acceptable. He reminds us that plumbers don't have 'plumber's block,' after all, making his point perfectly! They don't get to say that they don't feel the ability to plunge a toilet or unplug a drain today. In the same way, writers just need to do the work, accept bad writing and imperfection, and keep going. Here's a succinct statement worthy of pinning to your wall:
"The work is doing it when you don't feel like it, doing it when it's not easy."
He goes on to describe the way to keep writing - by showing up every day for work and writing, regardless of whether it's good or bad. It's the discipline that matters. We have to write a bunch of really bad stuff to produce anything good. As the hilarious and winsome writer Anne Lamott says,
"How to write: Butt in chair.  Start each day anywhere.  Let yourself do it badly.  Just take one passage at a time.  Get butt back in chair."
Possibly the best part of Godin's simple advice is that it applies to nearly every effort under the sun. I won't feel like visiting that person in the hospital, but I will go. It's just the right thing to do. I won't feel inspired to exercise when I have 100+ emails still in my inbox and several projects approaching deadlines. But I desperately need to get my heart moving if I want to stay alive.

In a short amount of time, with some repetition, Godin really gets to the heart of the matter rather quickly:
"What writer's block really is, is a series of bad habits and fear, piled one atop another. It's fictional. We don't *have* it;  maybe we may feel it, but it's not who we are. We are not blocked; what we are is afraid." 
So I have tagged this one as a saved podcast, to listen to when I'm stuck, lacking in motivation, or... if I'm really being honest, AFRAID. As I've said to many others in leadership development, 90% of what you need to get done gets accomplished just by showing up. So forget about the excuses, and show up. (ending with a self pep-talk!)

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