Ever since I decided that I was going to be a writer, writing has gotten really hard. I think I’m still pretty okay with spelling and punctuation, but the act of stringing thoughts together to form meaningful sentences is agonizing. And paragraphs? Don’t get me started on paragraphs!
I remember when I was drafting my “It’s not good-bye, but I’ll see you later” e-mail to my fellow co-workers, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it. That was especially weird because I had drafted it in my mind long before that day. Leaving wasn’t necessarily a matter of “if” as much as “when”.
I felt an unreasonable pressure to write something compelling or inspiring since I just told people that writing was going to be the next step. I’ve written thousands of e-mails before and this wasn’t really any different. It was just me saying “thank-you” to the great people I’d worked with for the last three years.
But there I was, staring at a blinking cursor trying to sum up my experiences and gratitude in a single e-mail.
I got up from my computer, dropped by the kitchen to refill my water bottle and took a lap around the office. I walked by the well-decorated lobby, past the row of identical conference rooms, through the recently redecorated corridor, around the corner by the bathrooms, out of the side door, back through the lobby and back to my desk again.
I had walked that route a million times. Usually in search of a brief distraction from some form of mundanity or just to stretch my legs. But it always seemed to work as a good way to reset.
Back at my computer, I pulled up the doc and started, “Here we are. Saying good bye.”
In 10 minutes or so the note was done. I didn’t try to write some elegant memoir. I just typed what was in my heart to share right then and there. Before I left the building, I’d received two compliments on my writing. A week later, I was told by a source I won’t disclose that it may have been, and I quote, “The best good-bye note yet!”
Fast forward to present day, I’ve been having the same trouble getting words I’m happy with on the page and out into the world. I guess that it comes with the territory of being a bit of a perfectionist when it involves things I take pride in.
It’s freezing here in the Chicago right now. So it’s not exactly suitable for a walk around the block. Instead, I took to the internet in search of a writing prompt to loosen me up and here we are.
Since I’m sure you’re curious, here’s the prompt:
What objects or routines prepare you for the day?
Where are you at your best? What are you looking at, touching, and using when inspiration strikes? Share your secrets with us, and we’ll all start a new year of writing together.
I don’t think I’m doing a good job staying on topic, but it’s a really good prompt. Totally going to use it for this essay I’m working on.
Rehashing this experience has given me a reminder of what it feels like being stuck and how to get moving again.
The first step is to relax.
Tony Robbins tells us that, “Emotion is created by motion. Whatever you’re feeling right now is directly related to how you’re using your body”.
Stretch your legs. Adjust your posture. Read The Onion. Whatever eases the tension.
On the subject of easing tension, forget about perfection, too. It’s an inhibitor. The only thing you should focus on is being better than you were yesterday. Just you, not anybody else.
Then just take a shot. (No, not that kind of shot). All it needs to be is ‘good enough’.
John Mayer said that, “If you had started doing anything two weeks ago, by today you would have been two weeks better at it.”
He’s a pretty good musician by most standards, I think.
So I guess if I just relax, forget about getting it ‘just right’ and hit ‘submit’ today, then two weeks from now, I’ll at least be a little bit better at this writing thing.
Thanks for reading! If you got any value from this, it would mean a lot to me if you shared it with someone else. Pay it forward. That’s how we all got here after all!
Looking to get in touch? Here’s how: