There are so many excuses I’ve made for not writing more often.
In the last 24 hours, I have participated in an interesting stream of loosely connected conversations on this topic, ranging from Twitter, to a face-to-face conversation while hiking, to a phone conversation this morning. Several themes were carried through in each version of the conversation. And one of those themes was, “I don’t have anything of value to add to the conversation.”
"Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer…." http://t.co/oTA4qGjx07
— Christian Payne (@Documentally) April 12, 2014
With that tweet, Christian Payne began a conversation with myself that lingered most of the day. Alan Watts’ admonitions kept ringing in my ears all day. “Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing.” And then Watts unleashed the advice he said he didn’t have, “Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone.” Those are powerful words, inspiring words.
Unfortunately, the excuses I make for not writing are much simpler than the fear of divulging my deepest, darkest secrets. There are many excuses, but the one that has stood in my way more often than others is this: “I don’t need to say this. It has already been said.”
I suppose Christian set in motion a predisposition to listen for this theme in my conversations throughout the day. As I was hiking with a friend last night, a similar conversation about writing sprang from our walk. They commented that they had noticed I was writing more and talked openly about their reluctance to write. We talked about the excuses we use not to write. And one of the excuses we both agreed on was this, “Others have already said what I would want to say.” You can feel the self-judgement in that statement, can’t you. It hints at “better than I can” without actually saying it. And it is just an excuse to not add our voice to the mix.
On the phone with Brad Nix this morning, the theme came up again. And our brief dialogue brought me to a familiar conclusion. It seems we all struggle with this. And I believe we all have our own internal response that helps us understand why our tightly held excuses don’t make sense, regardless of how reluctant we are to believe our own reasoning. “Just because I’ve consumed the information doesn’t mean everyone else has,” was Brad ‘s refutal of his own version of this common form of writer’s block. And that’s true. Perhaps the more important truth is this; allowing this excuse to stand in the way of writing, denies those who respect Brad from hearing HIM say whatever it is he may rightfully believe they’ve already heard.
The Awesome Power Of Relationships
The reason why I click on some people’s links on Twitter and not others is the same reason why I respond asymmetrically when two different people say the exact same thing. It’s because of the unique nature of each relationship. It’s often not about the eloquence of the words, just who says them. If you have kids, you’ve likely seen them accept on first pass a comment made in passing by a teacher or coach that they’ve fought you tooth and nail on 100 times.
We’ve been doing this our whole lives. We assign different value to the words of others based on the nature of our relationship with them. So, this is not news. But it might be a powerful conversation to have with ourselves to help us get out of our own way when it comes to writing. I know it will be for me.
People who will respond to your voice may not respond to my voice, even if we’re saying the same thing. That means your voice matters. That means my voice matters.