Last night I was beyond frustrated; once again another blog post unfinished. I remember closing my laptop, putting it to the side of my coffee table in dismay, and massaging my temples as I tried to wrack my mind why it’s so fucking difficult as of late to publish new material. This isn’t like me.
You see, I’ve written 6 unfinished thoughts since I lasted posted a piece on the 31st of March, and I’ve deleted all of them. Lately the pen, or in this case keyboard, isn’t flowing like I want it to. This is in sharp contrast to the habit I built up over the last few months of releasing 2 blog posts a week. And, I just can’t help but find myself asking the question, “Have I run out of ideas to write about?”
I don’t think I have. The right ideas seem to simply elude me.
Now, I know I’ve always battled with perfectionism, but this felt different. I know what perfectionism feels like within myself. Trust me when I say that my pieces don’t need to be perfect, but I refuse to put garbage out into the world for the sake of meeting my habit quota. There’s already enough of that. Hence why I’ve deleted the last 6 pieces I’ve written.
I decided to sleep on it for the 7th day in a row in the hopes that something, anything, would come to me the next morning on my walk. You see, that’s usually when most of my ideas come to me. I know. I know. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein (or was it…)
Well fuck you Albert. I’m doing this my way.
So, I woke up the next morning, and I went for my walk. Son of a bitch. Our favorite German scientist must have been having himself a laugh through time because I still found myself trapped in this mindset of “What do I write next?” The brutally honest and seemingly infinite writers block is such a bitch.
I decided to #Hashtag-Call-A-Friend or, in this case, call my brother Josh. I know sometimes ideas need to be inspired from outside sources with good conversations, and well, he’s a great outside source and we have great conversations. Minimum, I would get some time to connect with him, check in with how he’s doing with everything going on and have some much welcome company in an otherwise isolated world that we all seem to live in as of late.
We caught up. I shared with him my dilemma, and he listened. The thing was, he too didn’t know exactly what to recommend. I was tired, frustrated, and didn’t want to think about it anymore. So we switched the subject, and we talked about whatever came up. We flowed in and out of conversation, letting the topics choose themselves as we traversed the rivers of connecting through voice. I hadn’t given up, but I had acknowledged that there was no need to push for something that wasn’t ready to come.
Wait…There’s no need to push for something that isn’t ready to come!
And just like that I had the idea that had been eluding me over the last week; I knew what I needed to write about.
There’s no need to push for something that isn’t ready to come.
It feels like the bane of flow state is demanding yourself to get into flow state. Flow state being that state of mind where it doesn’t feel like you have to think about what comes next in whatever activity you are doing; you feel fully present within the action. Quick fact about me: I dance a dance partner style called West Coast Swing. I’m telling you this because I want to illustrate this point using dance as the metaphor or the vessel for this thought.
I’ve had many a nights at dances when I simple didn’t feel like I was dancing to the full potential of what I could. I would find myself so frustrated. My timing was off. My feet didn’t respond how I wanted them to. Nothing was going as I wanted things to go. And I was painstakingly repeating a pattern over and over again within every dance. Well, that’s at least how it felt for me.
I’m not the only one that experiences this. I’ve had many conversations with friends, fellow dancers, and even dance pros who also share this love for dance, and it turns out that having an “off night” is not a rare occurrence. It’s actually quite common. I started to feel less alone in my struggles, and at minimum this was a massive positive.
You see, for most of my dancing life, whenever I had an “off night” I would focus in on the issue of “having an off night” and try to fix this problem. I can be a pretty stubborn dude, and if you have ever found me stubborn in person you should know that that’s not nearly half of what it’s like to be inside my head. Yeah, that dude, he doesn’t fucking budge.
I spent year after year, night after night, battling against this unmovable foe that mocked my very existence, and unfortunately this ruined many nights of dancing that I could have been otherwise incredibly grateful for. I can fully feel that more than ever today as I sit at home in isolation. Believe me when I say this, “I would kill to have a evening among friends dancing the night away with a few triples, a few laughs, and a bunch of happy mistakes.”
This perspective of “off dance nights” changed for me about 3 years ago; I had an unknown stroke of genius and decided to surrender to the experience instead of fighting it. My inner dialogue was something to this nature, “Okay, Austin you are having an off dance night. It happens to all of us. Hmmmm… Maybe I should spend some time talking instead of dancing. Okay.”
And, that is exactly what I did. I changed the viewpoint of my experience, and I decided to connect with people opposed to fighting the “off dance night.” Here’s the crazy thing, after a few conversations I felt the urge to dance again. I couldn’t help it, and I soon found myself on the floor, dancing, and even more remarkably in flow state. I had learned the very important lesson of the Surrender.
By surrendering to the the way I truly felt in that moment I found freedom to move past that state of being and into the next one. I don’t think you can control emotions, nor do I think you should. Emotions are meant to be experienced. The beauty and the bitch of emotions is that they are ultimately fleeting. Once experienced and with enough time, your mind moves onward and onto the next experience.
Ever since that day I really haven’t had an “off dance night”. Now I do have had “off dance moments”, but those are acknowledged, experienced, and then moved on from.
Now let’s fast forward to today. It took me only a couple hours to write this piece, and I honestly enjoyed the whole experience. I don’t think that the last 6 pieces I threw away were a waste but rather a good reminder of how important acknowledgement and grace are in my life.
I’m only human, and I tend to forget things over time. Or, I will forget that a lesson learned in another application of life is equally as valuable in another.
So, moving forward, as long as I can remember this in those times of struggle, I am going to give myself a little bit more grace and a little bit more time to surrender when writer’s block comes again. And, next time, instead of being an enemy, I’ll remember that this is a distant friend that is here to remind me to slow down a bit and experience life.
Much love, as always,
P.S. Dear reader,
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