Joe and I sip blackberry gin and explain why writer’s block is a big fat myth that’s stopping you from writing your book (or doing anything else useful). Before you get all huffy, grab yourself a cuppa and listen in, because when you understand why it’s a myth, you’ll also understand how to get more shit done. Also, they finally blather on about purple.
- [2:45] Let’s talk about the color purple. It’s a color that doesn’t exist!
- [7:25] Similar to the color purple, writer’s block is a lie we tell ourselves.
- [8:25] Writer’s block implies that it’s happening because of an external cause, but it’s the opposite.
- [9:40] Vicky read an interesting article from the New Yorker about writer’s block.
- [15:30] Is writer’s block the same as general procrastination?
- [17:40] There are fun exercises you can do to get your creative juices flowing, which is much more proactive than sitting around with ‘writer’s block’.
- [22:15] How does Vicky find the time to do all of this hobby stuff?!
- [23:25] The best way to beat writer’s block is to be interested in as many things as you can.
- [25:15] If you’ve ever trained for a marathon, it’s really hard to get out of the front door.
- [29:55] By the way, pre-order Vicky’s book!!! It will be released in the beginning of November!Mentioned in This Episode:
- Vicky FraserVicky’s PodcastVicky’s BlogVicky on MediumJoin the SuperheroesVicky’s Business For Superheroes BookThe Inner CircleBorrow My BrainVicky’s Book ClubPreorder Vicky’s new book!Write & Publish Your Book in 90 DaysEmail VickySubscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, and OvercastProject DingleBlocked: Why do writers stop writing?, The New Yorker
- Want to know more? I’ve written a book, you know. You can get your mitts on it here. If you’ve read my book and you’re ready to take the next step: brilliant. You could join my Small Business Superheroes Inner Circle here. Want to read the transcript? See below…
Business For Superheroes Podcast Transcription: Episode One Hundred And Eighty Eight: Writer’s Block Is A Big Fat Myth
*In an industry stuffed with marketing bullshit, empty promises and shiny-suited liars, one woman’s had enough. She knows what it’s like to have the wrong clients, no money and no time for fun, but she also knows how to fix it, and, on the Business For Superheroes Show, she promises to tell the down and dirty truth about business, sales and running away with the circus! Here’s your host: Vicky Fraser…*
Vicky: Hello and welcome to the Business for Superheroes show, or possibly the 1,000 Authors show. I’m Vicky Fraser and this is my husband Joe.
Vicky: Hello. And this is Noodle, I don’t know if you can hear him purring. Maybe, he’s purring on my knee, he’s not very happy because there is a dog in the next room. A house guest.
Joe: Not good for the cats.
Vicky: Actually they’ve been very good.
Joe: They’re very good but he’d prefer not to have a dog in the room next door.
Vicky: Yes he would, he’s a little bit affronted by the whole thing. Anyway, we are drinking Tarquin’s Gin and tonic tonight. Cheers and this was a gift from my very lovely bestest mate Emma down in Cornwall, hi Em!
Joe: Hi Em!
Vicky: When she came to visit and it’s fantastic. It’s Cornish blackberry gin.
Joe: It’s very lovely.
Vicky: It’s very lovely, it’s very purple.
Joe: Very gin, very blackberry.
Vicky: But they also have beautiful bottles. So if you’re watching the video version of this podcast you can see the beautiful bottle with a wax seal. It’s just lovely kind of frosted glass. I love it, I do love a beautiful bottle and some nice packaging. So yes, Tarquin’s Gin.
Joe: Very good.
Vicky: Very good, very nice. Also, we have got a topic to talk about tonight which is writer’s block is a big, fat myth and it is and if you don’t believe me, then you are wrong. Controversial maybe, I don’t care. And I will explain, we will explain why later. But before we do that, we’ve been promising to talk about purple apparently, for quite some weeks now and Jen texted me the other day to call me out on it and say–
Joe: Hi Jen!
Vicky: When are you gonna talk about purple, hi Jen! And that was a reasonable question. So Joe, what did you want to say about purple?
Vicky: It’s actually relevant to this week’s topic, as you will discover.
Joe: So there’s multiple people on the interwebs who will describe this and explain it much better than I will but in a nutshell, there is no light frequency that corresponds to the colour purple.
Vicky: You’re kidding.
Joe: What you see as purple is a fictitious color that is created by your brain when both the red and the blue cones in your eyeballs are activated. There’s no colour to go with it.
Vicky: Wow, so there are no purple flowers?
Joe: There are no purple flowers. Well I mean there are but it’s just a colour that your brain invents.
Joe: So yeah, it’s actually, you can’t really tell if everybody sees purple as the same thing, maybe not.
Vicky: Okay so Joe, what does this–
Joe: This is red.
Vicky: That’s red? Okay, I suppose it is kinda red. Find me a purple thing.
Joe: We will all recognize it as purple but it’s not necessarily the same thing that we see.
Vicky: Fair enough, okay. So I remember, we haven’t talked about it on the podcast before but you and I have had that conversation before, haven’t we? It’s been really cool. So it’s things that our brains make up that aren’t really there.
Joe: Our brains are awesome at it.
Vicky: They are awesome at it because they do it all the time. They do it for stuff that we, because there are so many signals coming into our bodies from our eyes, our nose, our ears, everything, that we can’t possibly process all that information. So we filter most of it out and then we kind of fill in the gaps again, don’t we?
Joe: Yeah, this whole kind of visual field that everybody sees that starts 120 degrees to the right and finishes 120 degrees to the left or whatever it is–
Vicky: It’s mostly filled in by memory, isn’t it?
Joe: It’s mostly filled in with memory and–
Joe: Assumptions and thoughts and whatnot. We’re getting all these little snapshots of vision and stitching the rest of it together inside your brain.
Vicky: That’s why, if you’ve ever wondered how a cyclist or a motorcyclist has suddenly appeared in the road next to you when you were turning out and you’re going, Jesus! That’s why, because your brain is filling in the gap that it can’t see with road, because it knows what a road looks like and a road is really obviously a road, it’s gray and–
Joe: Probably a road, probably cars.
Vicky: Maybe cars but yeah, it’s gonna be basically it’s gonna fill in with the stuff that it knows. And I think for people, for us it’s a little bit different because we ride motorbikes and so we expect to see motorbikes because we are often on one. But for people who don’t ride motorbikes, that’s when the, sorry mate didn’t see ya, thing comes and they knock people off their motorbikes because their brain does not fill in that gap with a motorbike, ’cause it’s not expecting to see one. It’s really interesting. So when people say, “Sorry mate I didn’t see you”, they genuinely did not see you.
Joe: Yeah, they didn’t.
Vicky: You can argue that they didn’t look properly and that’s true as well but yeah. Cyclists out there, always assume that you’re invisible. ‘Cause it always used to make me laugh, ’cause I used to hear people say on that forum we used to be a member of, “Oh, assume that everybody’s out to kill you” and it’s like, well no because that’s assuming that they have actually noticed you at all. And they’re not out to kill you. Assume that you’re invisible.
Joe: Assuming that you’re invisible is a really, really good tactic.
Vicky: I think so, I came up with that on my own. Anyway, the reason that I think that purple and the whole, your brain making things up thing is relevant to this evening’s talk–
Vicky: Ramblings, was because writer’s block does not exist, that is my thesis. Yeah, why you making that face?
Joe: Well, because lots of people experience it, just like they experience purple. And gaps in traffic that don’t have motorbikes in them.
Vicky: But do they experience it? But do they really? I’m going to dismantle that argument. I’m gonna start with plumber’s block. Doctor’s block, taxi driver’s block.
Joe: Plumber’s block sounds like something that just needs a plunger.
Vicky: It does well, exactly! It just needs a plunger. And you don’t hear doctors saying they’ve got doctor’s block or taxi driver’s block or teacher’s block or, no. No, when have you ever heard anyone say that?
Joe: I reckon teachers spend quite a lot of time stood in front of the class just flapping their mouth open and closed, wondering what to say. Certainly some of my teachers did.
Vicky: I think that’s a different problem. But no, they don’t, they don’t experience these blocks. They just show up and do the work and that is my argument. I’m gonna elaborate a little bit ’cause it’s a little bit harsh to say just sit down, shut up and do the work. But essentially, that’s what I’m saying . And this is where it’s like, our brain makes stuff up. Writer’s block, I think, is a lie that we tell ourselves to get out of doing the work. So you know, “Oh I’ve got writer’s block so I can’t write today, so I’m just gonna go and watch 10 hours of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” straight and wait for inspiration to strike.”
Joe: Which it doesn’t.
Vicky: Which it does not, no.
Joe: And that is frankly 10 hours of TV watching that’s just gone down the toilet, isn’t it?
Vicky: Well, watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is never time wasted but yes, when you wanna be writing your book, for example, as I and my clients will be wanting to do, it is a little bit of a problem. If you booked out 10 hours to sit on the sofa under a blanket and watch “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” then awesome, that’s a great day to spend and I might do that in the coming winter months. ‘Cause it’s been quite a while since I watched Buffy. And I was listening to the–
Joe: I’m not watching all of Buffy again.
Vicky: It is great though.
Joe: We’ve been through it like three times now!
Vicky: No we have not! I’m not expecting you to watch it again. Anyway, the reason that I object to the term writer’s block is because it implies an external cause and a problem that is caused by something or someone else that you can blame and that you can use as an excuse but the truth is actually quite the opposite. So shall I elaborate? Or shall I just leave it there and annoy people?
Joe: Just leave it, yeah, do people?
Vicky: Why are you wiffling?
Joe: Do people actually think writer’s block is a real thing?
Vicky: They do.
Joe: Do they use it, or are they being ironic and kind of witty about the fact that they know they’re procrastinating and talking rubbish.
Vicky: If I told you that people have been prescribed Prozac for writer’s block, what would you do?
Joe: Roll my eyes pretty hard.
Vicky: Yeah, I’m quite likely to do that. Okay, so there’s a really interesting article in New Yorker that I read a while ago and I’ve put a link in the show notes.
Joe: Ritalin would probably work better. Carry on. Doctor Joe prescribes Ritalin.
Vicky: Don’t, Joe is not a doctor, don’t listen to Joe. Derailed my train, it’s all over the place, carriages everywhere . Yeah, really interesting article in the New Yorker that I read quite a while ago called, I can’t remember what it’s called but the link is in the show notes. It was about writer’s block and it starts off talking about Samuel Taylor Coleridge, of water water all around fame. He did write that, didn’t he?
Joe: I have no idea.
Vicky: The Ancient Mariner, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.
Joe: Is that Coleridge?
Vicky: Yes, oh my god, now I feel like I’ve–
Joe: Who was Cthulhu?
Vicky: That was not Coleridge, that was H.P. Lovecraft.
Joe: H.P. Lovecraft, right, okay, terrible education.
Vicky: Having a literary existential crisis right now. I’ve now talked myself out of the fact that Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.
Joe: I would Google it but we’re videoing so I can’t.
Vicky: Right, there may be an addendum to this podcast in which I re-record the whole thing. Yeah, anyway, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He was one of the first cases of writer’s block. The first known cases of writer’s block because he stopped writing in his late 20s. Most of his famous poems came from his mid 20s. The ones that we would know and that we might have studied at school.
Joe: That we clearly don’t know.
Vicky: I know, you just talked me out of it. And after that time, any ambitious writing projects inspired in him what he called, “an indefinite indescribable Terror” and he gave terror a capital T. I kinda know how he feels, I go through life with an indefinite, indescribable terror. But he actually wasted most of the rest of his life addicted to opium.
Joe: Is that technically a waste?
Vicky: I think so, yeah.
Joe: It probably is, yes, okay.
Vicky: When you are as wonderfully accomplished at writing as him, he just wasted the rest and you know, his contemporaries would come up to him and be like, “Dude, what are you doing?” “Sort yourself out.”
Joe: And he’d be like
Vicky: And he’d be like, I can’t I am paralyzed and disabled and I cannot sort my shit out. I’m not talking about addiction here, because that’s an entirely different thing. I’m talking about the fact that he stopped writing because he decided that he was blocked. But it’s really interesting because writers have probably suffered from this kind of thing, probably suffered in writing since the beginning of writing but it was only from the early 19th century that writer’s block became a thing.
Joe: Okay, it got given a name.
Vicky: It got given a name and the reason is because the idea of writing as an art form changed. This is really interesting, I find this really interesting ’cause I’m a writer and a nerd. But before the early 1900s, before the romantic poets and that kind of thing, the romantic writers, writers thought of writing as a rational purposeful activity which they controlled. So I’m gonna go for a walk and I’m gonna think of some ideas and I’m gonna sit down and I’m gonna write a poem or a book or whatever.
Joe: Did it kind of coincide with the invention of the novel?
Vicky: No, novels came before that.
Vicky: I was just trying to think of one that came before that and now I can’t think of any and you’ve destroyed me .
Joe: Bronte and all that, that was before 19–
Vicky: Yeah, there were novels before that. But the fashion of romantic poetry and stuff. The early romantics though, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted again.
Joe: That’s what I’m here for, for rude interruptions, gin drinking.
Vicky: So earlier writers thought of writing as a rational purposeful activity which they controlled but the romantics, the early romantic writers and poets saw writing as external and somehow magically bestowed upon them.
Vicky: So that’s where I think the difference came. And Percy Shelley, who was another noted total junkhead–
Joe: As in Mary Shelley’s fella?
Vicky: Yes, Mary Shelley’s fella. Said, “A man cannot say, ‘I will compose poetry.'” because poetry was the product of some invisible influence like an inconstant wind, which basically blew the material into the poet. You just had to wait for it to happen and basically, drugs really fucked up art for everybody. I think drugs also created some really cool art, like Kubla Khan and Kubla Khan did whatever.
Joe: Xanadu, thingies–
Vicky: Was that Coleridge as well? But yeah, they were like oh, you know, we’ve just gotta sit here and we’ve gotta wait for the poetry muse to fart poetry in our general direction and then we’ll be able to write it. It’s like, we don’t write it, it is produced through us.
Joe: I am merely the mechanism for putting it on paper.
Vicky: Yeah and you know what? Maybe that’s the case, I can’t say for 100% sure. I am not the all-knowing oracle of everything but I tend to side with the pre-romantic writers who saw writing as a thing that they did and they sat down and they controlled it and they decided what was gonna happen and when it was gonna happen and they didn’t sit down and wait for inspiration to strike because you will die of old age before that happens.
Vicky: But yeah, like I said earlier with the Prozac thing, the New Yorker, in the same article also said that blocked writers are now being treated with antidepressants such as Prozac, though some report that the drugs tend to eliminate their desire to write together with their regret over not doing so. So it’s not really help. And I remember when I was on antidepressants. It kind of removed the despair but it also removed any enthusiasm for anything. That’s not really a very good thing.
Joe: Not productive.
Vicky: No, as a short-term fix, awesome. Because yeah, it was a short-term fix for all sorts of nastiness but as a long-term fix, it’s a hell of a horrible way to live.
Joe: So do you see writer’s block as a thing separate to general procrastination?
Joe: And inability to achieve?
Vicky: No not really, I think that it has been given a name. I think that those things have been given a name.
Joe: Because of the poor artistic writers?
Vicky: Yeah, a little bit and I also don’t think that there is any, one, because you kinda said, is it separate to procrastination? Is it separate to perfectionism? Is it separate to fear? I think they’re all parts of the same, it’s not as simple as saying oh, it’s writer’s block and that’s one thing. There are many, many reasons that you might not be able to produce work.
Joe: It is a many-faceted jewel.
Vicky: It is a many-faceted pile of poop. I think sometimes it is just really bloody hard to write and to think and to do anything creative. You’re creative, you solve problems, engineering problems. Sometimes it must be really difficult to sit down and think about that kind of thing, right? You must have days where it’s like I’d rather actually just eat cheese or whatever.
Joe: Yes, eat sausage sandwiches.
Vicky: Because it’s a similar thing but we don’t talk about engineering blocks. You wouldn’t refer to it as a creative block, would you? You’d just be–
Joe: Like today has not been very productive. I kept getting distracted and I did other things instead.
Vicky: And sometimes that just happens and it might be that you haven’t done enough thinking about other things because creativity, all creativity is, is making connections between different stuff. It’s just sometimes difficult, to be creative is sometimes really difficult and that doesn’t mean that you have writer’s block, it means that you have to sit down and work harder at it. Or go out for a walk and work harder on it but not just kind of sit there and go I have writer’s block and therefore I’m going to use that as an excuse to goof off for the day.
Joe: And there’s loads of techniques for moving beyond a big, blank piece of paper that’s staring at you. There’s all kinds of planning and breakdowns and bullet points and key facts and all sorts of flow charts and diagrams and all sorts of stuff that you could be doing that is all productive and gets your thoughts on the paper and gets the paper not blank.
Vicky: And there are other things that you can do as well that are really good fun and are equally as important as all the things that you’ve just mentioned. Like playing, I think adults don’t play any more and last night, actually, this is a really good thing. So last night and it’s not last night when you’re listening to this, last night while we’re recording it, I was at a dance class, contemporary dance which I always find a little bit terrifying because even though I am an aerial dancer, I am not a ground dancer. I find it a little bit frightening to dance. Beth, hi Beth, is an excellent teacher and she had the whole class doing stuff and she’s like, we’re gonna play a game. And so she had us point out four different parts of the room, so the logo, the mirrors, the ceiling and the curtain in the dance studio and then she was like, name body parts. Okay, so left foot, right arm, head, back. She paired those things together and she was like right, I want you to throw your left foot towards the mirror. Do something with your left foot towards the mirror. Do something with your head towards the curtain. Do you know what I mean? And just those things, those simple movements, those simple combinations of ideas, triggers and we created some really cool dance moves. And she was like, you’ve just choreographed a little piece of choreography and that was a really big deal for a bunch of people who don’t consider themselves to be dancers. And I like to do similar things with my clients and my writers and the people that I’m coaching, to get them thinking about how they can write and get their creativity going and in ways that aren’t necessarily related to the topic that you wanna write about, it’s just about getting you thinking and getting you unstuck. But you have to put the work in and so for last night, with the dance class, Beth’s idea of getting us to put the work in was to give us these triggers. And it was like oh, I couldn’t possibly choreograph a piece of dance. Oh wait a minute, I just did.
Joe: Here’s the thing, yeah.
Vicky: Yeah, so I think writer’s block is not a condition that can be cured and it’s definitely not something that happens to us from the outside. I think what it is at it’s core is just a lot of fear. It’s like layer upon layer of fear, because we’re terrified of failing, sometimes we’re terrified of succeeding. Success is a scary thing and we’re afraid to just ship it, as Seth Godin would say. You know, just get it out there.
Joe: Just put it out.
Vicky: And I think it’s an excuse. I think writer’s block is an excuse because writing is really hard, creating anything is really hard and whether that’s a painting, or a sculpture, or a poem, or an article, or an engineering problem that you might be solving, some of them are really difficult, right?
Vicky: And if you just sat there and waited for inspiration to strike, what would happen?
Joe: It probably wouldn’t.
Vicky: No, so how do you solve engineering problems? When you would just rather go and stick your head in a bucket and not look at it because it’s really difficult, what sorts of things do you do to start ideas off?
Joe: I stand up, I put a pen in my hand, I stand next to a whiteboard and I start drawing.
Vicky: What do you draw?
Joe: Things related to the thing I’m thinking about, usually and invariably, another engineer will wander past, eating a sausage sandwich and he’ll be like, what are you doing there? And I’ll describe the problem. There’s a cat, whinging in the background.
Vicky: Being naughty.
Joe: I’ll explain the problem to the other engineer and they will almost invariably pop up with a bright idea or suggestion or two and we’ll draw a few things out and decide it’s rubbish and then move on. But we’ve got beyond a blank piece of paper, we’ve got a few thoughts, we’ve got a few ideas and we can get cracking.
Vicky: Cool and I know you’ve told me before as well that you have had people come to you with problems and they’re like oh, this is an unsolvable problem, we can’t do this, it’s impossible and you’ve been like, well actually, we did something a little bit similar in the pharmaceutical industry or something.
Joe: Yeah, one of the things that happens in my world is I spend a lot of time in automotive places, I spend time in FMCG, I spend time in all kinds of different–
Vicky: Fast moving consumer goods.
Joe: Yeah, cans, packets of crisps, small things and usually, the people who work in those industries don’t move much. If you’re a person who puts food in cans, you might work in a cat food factory and you might work in a baked beans factory but your skills are putting things in cans and the machinery that does that. So when somebody walks in from the automotive industry, usually we’ve got some pretty good thoughts. It works well, so we kind of cross-pollinate across a lot of different industries.
Vicky: Yeah and I was having a conversation with somebody last night actually and she said, I saw you posted your guitar plecks – I’m learning to play the guitar again. I saw you posted your guitar playing video and was like, how do you find time to do all this stuff? You run a business and you’re renovating a cottage and you spend all this time at the studio and now you’re learning to play the guitar. I was like, I’m learning Spanish as well and she was like, what the fuck and part of the reason I can do all those things is that I have designed my life in such a way that I’ve got space for it. Also, we don’t have children, that helps I think.
Joe: That definitely helps.
Vicky: And also also, I really love learning stuff. I think it’s really, really important to learn as much as possible about as many things as possible and that’s part of the reason why I can come up with really good ideas. I was talking to one of my coaching clients today and she came up with an idea for her and she’s like, that’s such a good idea! And the reason that I come up with good ideas is because I am interested in so many things and I’m learning stuff all the time. I listen to tons of podcasts and I read a lot and I dunno–
Joe: It’s not magic.
Vicky: It’s not magic, no. Be interested, be curious. The best way, the best way to beat writer’s block or to beat any creative block is to be interested in as much stuff as you can. We live in this incredible universe that is filled with wonders and amazingness and just really cool stuff, it’s not all doom and gloom, stop listening to so much news. The world is an incredible place, there is so much to be interested in that I am always baffled when I hear somebody say, I’m bored its like, how can you be bored?
Joe: You’re clearly not paying attention.
Vicky: If you’re bored, go for a walk and think. Or just sit and think, or watch a TV show or pick up a book, you know, something. There is so much to be interested in.
Joe: Break out of your routine, go do something else.
Vicky: Yeah and so if you’re thinking that you’ve got writer’s block, that it’s hard that you don’t wanna do it, that’s fine. It is hard, it is really sometimes very, very hard to write stuff and to create anything. But when it gets really hard and we can’t seem to think of anything, we tend to blame that lack of inspiration and we blame writer’s block and we blame anything, rather than sit down and do the work and I think that’s the problem. But a really odd thing happens when we sit down and make words appear on paper anyway because that’s when inspiration starts to appear. Ideas start to flow, motivation comes because something that I’ve learned over the last few years is that action doesn’t come from motivation, that’s not the way round that it comes. You’re not motivated to act. Motivation comes from doing something. You have to start, you have to get started and that’s when motivation comes. Motivation never comes from just sitting on the sofa and doing nothing, when has that ever motivated you to do anything?
Joe: It usually motivated me to sit on the sofa some more.
Vicky: Exactly, yeah. If you’ve ever done a long running distance. If you ever trained running or trained anything like that, it’s really hard to get out the front door.
Joe: I hate running.
Vicky: Joe really hates running.
Joe: It’s for children and criminals, that’s all it’s for, Jesus I hate running.
Vicky: I used to run a lot and you used to run a bit but even though I like running, or I liked running, I liked the being on my own and being out in the fresh air. It was really hard to get out the door but once you’ve taken a few steps, it gets easier and easier and easier–
Joe: That is very true.
Vicky: And you might get tired and you might be like I’m actually knackered now, my legs hurt but you’re motivated to keep going because you’ve started. Does that make sense?
Joe: Yes, the start is the difficult bit.
Vicky: The starting is the difficult bit.
Joe: It’s like getting out of bed is the most tricky bit of the day.
Vicky: I bloody love being up early. If I could drag my carcass out of bed at five o’clock in the morning, 10 minutes after I got out of bed, or half an hour after I got out of bed, I’d be delighted because I actually love being up early. I love that feeling of smugness and I love that I’m the first person that’s awake.
Joe: Seeing the day.
Vicky: Seeing the day. getting out of bed is, I’m very bad at it, aren’t I?
Joe: You’re not too bad but you’re not great.
Vicky: I’m very bad at it. My dad is the worst getter-upper in the world. He is the most grumpy man ever, it’s really funny . So yes, inspiration does not appear from nowhere and create wonderful writing and inspiration comes from thinking and reading and listening and scribbling and being interested in things.
Vicky: Starting, getting started.
Joe: Just do something!
Vicky: Even if it’s just a nonsense poem. We talked about nonsense poetry a couple of episodes ago. Even if that’s what you’re doing, like random word association.
Joe: Which is what Beth was doing with curtains and head.
Vicky: That’s exactly what Beth was doing last night in the dance class. Professionals don’t sit around and wait for inspiration to strike, they get on with it. Even when it’s the hardest thing in the world. Writers write and so can you.
Vicky: Yes. So what’s the takeaway, Joe?
Joe: Don’t allow preconceived ideas of what’s true to stop you doing what you can do.
Vicky: I wrote that.
Joe: You did write that.
Vicky: I wasn’t really thinking about what I was writing.
Joe: I don’t think that’s the takeaway. I think the takeaway is, start. It is difficult, it is hard, distract yourself, approach it from a different direction, draw a picture, write some words, beat the blank page.
Vicky: Take control of yourself and write.
Joe: Yeah and be inspired by all kinds of things.
Vicky: Don’t give away your power to some mythical, I don’t wanna talk about empowerment, it’s a bit cheesy but don’t give away your power because you’ve got a lot of it. The only place that power comes from is you. Don’t give it away to some mythical excuse like writer’s block. It’s like you can choose to be a victim of writer’s block or you can say this is really difficult but I’m gonna get on with it anyway.
Joe: Yeah, I am going to start. I’m going to write some things, it’s going to be rubbish and I will edit it and throw it out but I will have started.
Vicky: When I was painting earlier, this is a bit of an aside, it is still relevant, I was listening to the “You Are Not So Smart” podcast and he was talking to a really interesting neuroscientist and addiction psychiatrist about willpower and they pointed something out that willpower has never been proven to actually exist. It’s like writer’s block, it’s a thing that somebody dreamed up, it’s like willpower. And I used to think this, you’ve got a finite amount of willpower and if you use it all up at the beginning of the day, you won’t be able to do things later. I do think there is merit in the whole, eat the frog first, get it out the way. Just get it out the way and do it because that’s the motivation thing but there was, a woman did a PHD study about willpower and she just did maths problems in her head, over and over again for like 10 hours a stretch to see if she was eventually unable to do it because the willpower ran out. And what she found was that she could always do one more. Always, always do one more. So it kind of ruins the question, is there any such thing as willpower? And so I’m now thinking, maybe there isn’t any such thing as willpower and it’s just a case of reward. It’s the habit reward loop. You do things that are rewarding and you stop doing them if they are no longer rewarding and that was what she was finding, the woman who was doing the study was, I can always do one more. I don’t really want to .
Joe: But I can.
Vicky: But I can so that’s something to remember as well. If you’re telling yourself that you’ve run out of willpower, question it, maybe that’s bullshit, maybe there’s no such thing as willpower. Maybe you just need to set a better reward. And for you dear listener, your reward is gonna be that you will be a published author and hold a book in your hand and speaking of books in your hand, could you pass me my book please. ‘Cause it is time for… You can pre-order my book, it’s in the final stages of checks, you can see there’s a few post-it notes through there, I’m scribbling in it. I am getting ready to make a few changes and send it to Bill, hi Bill!
Joe: Hi Bill.
Vicky: So that we can get it printed. Okay, so you can pre-order it at www.moxiebooks.co.uk/preorderthebook. It’s gonna be bloody ready by the beginning of November. It was meant to be the beginning of October, that’s not happened.
Joe: Are you procrastinating?
Vicky: No, I’m building a new office! You see, that’s the other thing, optimism bias. I was like yeah, I can have a week off and we’ll build the office and I can also do all of the things I need to do in my business. No, I can’t, of course I can’t. So yes, new office excitement as well, that’s going on. Next time on the next podcast will be happening from my office.
Joe: Different backdrop.
Vicky: Well you can’t see the washing ’cause I’ve carefully maneuvered things so that you can’t see the washing but we’ll be in my office and that’s really, really exciting. So yeah, if you’ve listened to every episode, email me with your postal address and I will send you a special little gift.
Vicky: And finally, if you like this podcast, please go to iTunes and subscribe ’cause it helps us climb the rankings. Or go to stitcher or whatever and leave us a review please. ‘Cause we love it when people leave reviews.
Joe: We do.
Vicky: Rate us five stars, as Joe said, or however many stars you think it deserves.
Joe: But if it’s not five, other podcasts are available.
Vicky: Share it, if you know somebody who will enjoy our ramblings, then send them a link. No, not vickyfraser.com podcast, it’s https://moxiebooks.co.uk/podcast. ‘Cause my website is live now. I’ve kind of slid that in quietly because I think it’s still full of bugs but it looks good and I’m really proud of it.
Joe: Do some beta testing on Vicky’s website for us please.
Vicky: Yeah, if you find anything that bugs you, send me, no send Harriet an email . Hi Harriet!
Joe: Hi Harriet.
Vicky: Actually, on that note I just want to give a bit of a shout out to Harriet, who is my wonderful assistant. She does a bloody brilliant job of keeping me in line and making sure that I get these podcasts out.
Joe: Get things done.
Vicky: Getting things done and she’s just generally awesome. And she is absolutely, stunningly beautiful burlesque dancer as well and has a fantastic burlesque business in Spain. What are you doing with your eyebrows? So yeah, thank you to Harriet and thank you, as always to Podfly for being endlessly patient with my last minuteness and I promise we’re gonna get the rebranding stuff to you, sometime this week. And we’ll be back, same time next week where we’ll be talking about perfectionism. Which follows on nicely from this nonsense. Thanks Joe.
Joe: No worries.
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If you want to learn more about how to write, self-publish, and market a book for your business, snaffle yourself a copy of How The Hell Do You Write A Book? Then check out the blog and podcast for more articles and guides. If you want a little (or a lot) more help, find out how you can work with me.
Vicky Fraser is the founder of Moxie Books and author of How The Hell Do You Write A Book and Business For Superheroes. She helps business owners write life-changing books, connect with readers and new customers, and grow their businesses. When she’s not doing that, she’s hanging from a trapeze by her feet.