I get to write, all day. It’s not just my day job. It’s my passion.
It’s no secret I love it… but sometimes, I really don’t want to do it.
Why? What’s at the heart of my resistance to creating content, and how do I keep doing it… even when I don’t want to?
Step 1. I deal with my stuff.
Sure, I could muscle my way through the process of creating content. Force myself to do it, even though it’s the last thing I want.
Or, I could get real about what’s going on with me… so I can write fluidly, with more authenticity.
Here’s the thing: At the root of every sour-puss “I don’t feel like it” excuse is… “stuff.”
Now, that “stuff” could look like a million and one things. And lately, the list is long. But luckily, even if you feel trapped, or glued to your TV, or unable to turn off social media this week… you have options.
You can call a positive friend. Write ten things you’re grateful for. Go for a walk in a nearby nature preserve. Or a bike ride. You can clear your head.
That “stuff” isn’t always easy to just “shrug off.” Sometimes you need to take time with it.
And when I don’t want to write… you can bet, I’m not resisting writing. I’m resisting sitting with what I feel.
But when I stop resisting (even if it’s an internal sensation of relaxing all of my muscles)… it all rushes into my heart like energy. I feel a tingling feeling from head to toe. And when I breathe in, I feel like I can relax for the first time in days.
Deal with your stuff. Call a shrink if you have to. A good one. Talk to a friend. Allow yourself some time. If writing about it makes you feel better… great. If it doesn’t, no worries.
Now, on to the second step…
2. I stop placing unnecessary pressure on myself.
I get it… we live in a competitive world. You gotta create content on a timetable. If you don’t, you fail. You don’t create the revenue you want.
Wrong. I’ve seen countless entrepreneurs run 6- and 7-figure businesses, without draining their life-force in constant service to an arbitrarily-assigned content schedule.
In fact, many of them work less than 3 days a week, for 2 hours or less, each time.
Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Workweek isn’t just a book of principles. For many of us, it’s become a way of life. A realistic, probable, way of life.
Of course… I work a bit more than your average four-hour work week. But I make a comfortable income as an in-demand copywriter, and I don’t work more than 20 hours a week.
But in the next 6-12 months, I’ll get there.
Here’s the thing: Set goals. Please! But don’t make them your master.
And… don’t make your “feelings” your master either. It doesn’t make sense to put your business or your desire to post regular content on pause because your feelings are happening.
But still… sometimes we need time to detach from the world. It happens. Take hiatuses. It’s good for you. You’ll come back better. Which clearly brings me to…
3. I relax and breathe.
Possibly the most important piece, as I’ve already emphasized a few times in this article.
You gotta breathe. Breath is life. And not short, rapid breaths. Deep, belly breaths. Pranayama (Google it). Circular breathing. Kapala Bati. Breathwork.
It feels good. Feels better when you recruit a friend and do it together. I love to breathe. It pushes me through creative blocks all the time. When I really commit to it. As in, I lay down, breathe deeply and repeat without stopping for twenty minutes to an hour
You may feel dizzy, lightheaded and “out of it” for a short period… but I promise, that wears off, and what replaces it? You’ll thank me later.
4. I create a “pattern interrupt.”
One of the quickest ways for me to snap out of a creative block is to put things in perspective. Watch a comedy. Listen to music that really makes me feel something.
In personal growth, this is termed a “pattern interrupt.”
If you’re feeling down, “under the weather,” or otherwise “not up to it” (“it” being creativity or creating, period)… reach for a pattern interrupt.
Chances are, you already do this unconsciously. You put on Netflix because you want to feel differently than you feel now. Alcohol does something similar.
But there are far healthier ways to create a pattern interrupt. Ways that don’t erode your confidence and self-esteem, and give you MORE proof that you aren’t the person you want to be…
…further perpetuating the cycle of self-blame and feeling bad (seriously, you don’t need that).
Here are a few ideas to help you generate a pattern interrupt (almost) instantly:
- Keep a Spotify playlist that can instantly lift your mood. Turn it on anytime you need a pattern interrupt. If you don’t have one, you’re in luck. I’ve created one just for this purpose. This playlist should do the trick.
- Exercise intensely for 10 minutes. Go on a brisk run and run fast. Bike hard. This will get your heart pumping, your endorphins flowing… and before you know it, you’ll be thinking differently.
- Breathe rapidly for at least 5 minutes. I know, I recommend 20 minutes above. But even just 5 minutes can do the trick. Don’t believe me? Try it!
- Chant for 5 minutes. I know, this is some hippie stuff. But there’s a reason bald-headed monks have been doing it for millenia. It works. And it quickly puts you in a new state. Even just “ohm” works. Or the Gayatri Mantra. Try it. You can thank me later.
- Notice the thought and deliberately choose to shift it. Let’s say you feel low and you think “it doesn’t matter what I do.” Maybe you can shift this to “I know I don’t feel good, but I do care about feeling better. I do. What action can I take in this moment to shift things?”
- Meditate for 5-10 minutes. Just sit still, close your eyes, and notice all the tension in your body. Then, slowly practice releasing it. When thoughts distract you, return to this task.
- Have a friend who knows how to make you laugh? Call them up and ask them to tell you three jokes. Or turn on your favorite comedian. I know, this is a tried-and-true one. But it’s a mood-lifter for a reason. And it’s worth a shot.
Now, this is just a list of ideas. Your pattern interrupts could be a million and one things that work for you. (Keyword: you.)
Don’t listen to me and expect me to deliver the answers you need in order to create the creative breakthrough you want. Creativity comes from within you… and so do your answers.
Which brings me to my final point…
5. I “just do it.”
Sometimes, the creation process yields powerful breakthroughs… even when you don’t feel like it.
In fact, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into a writing project resistant, written a couple pages, and then hit a flow so powerful… I wondered where it was hiding.
The trick is: Move the energy first. Then, see where it takes you.
Sometimes, wanting to write makes me hit more roadblocks than not wanting to write.
Either way, in the end… I’m always glad I did it.
And I promise: You will be too.
To your journey of creation…