On Sharing When You Don’t Know What To Say

What do you write when you have nothing to write? What do you say when you have nothing to say but you still feel compelled to share, to create? Better to just sit tight and wait for the inspiration to strike? Or, like all of the writing books say, do you approach it like a job: show up even when you don’t feel like it. While I can’t argue with the virtues of showing up and doing the work, I also think we would all do well to reflect a little more. Spend a little more time thinking and being before we do, do, do. More time to nourish ourselves with words, movies, ideas and hot meals. The things of life. Instead of feeling this insidious pressure to produce, produce, produce the moment we sit our butts on the couch.

And yet, maybe that’s all a cop-out. Maybe we need less rest than we think. I mean look at Maria Popova of Brain Pickings. The woman’s a workhorse and yet she shares and reflects on some of the most insightful literature and artwork created. Her mind must be in overdrive and yet it produces more beautiful content in a month than most of us could hope for in a year. So where does that leave us? Maybe it means that the key is knowing when you are kidding yourself and simply being lazy and when you actually need some time to ease into the things that put your mind and body in equilibrium.

Lately, I’ve found an idea that makes the relaxing easier and the doing a little less burdensome. It’s the concept of turnover, of juggling, of just making sure we do a little something every day to keep all the parts moving. Before, I was obsessed with the crossing off of the to-do list, the satisfaction that comes with completing a task, with moving the needle forward. With the ding, dang, done. And while I still love the thrill of crossing something off a list, the more I work, the more emails I receive, the more I want to do, see and experience, the more I realize that it’s commendable in itself to just make sure I keep things in motion. Even on days when I feel like a worthless couch potato, I try to find it in me to respond to one email, to start on that writing assignment I’ve been putting off, even if I only finish one paragraph, to keep the momentum going so that starting the next day doesn’t feel so hard. It’s my way of minimizing the to-do list to rolling hills, rather than waiting to conquer one ever-growing mountain. An aptly posted quote on Facebook summed it up well for me:

“Nothing is more exhausting than the task that is never started” – Gretchen Rubin

Yes! Because we all know that the anticipation and expectation is what kills us. It’s in the thinking about doing a task where we stress out the most. It is the dread that comes from having “so much to do” yet not doing it and it’s the expectation of making something great, unique, brilliant that makes what does come out lackluster in comparison. So how does this relate to sharing vs. reflecting to creating vs. consuming? Well, it’s not a new idea, but maybe it means that in the action, we keep the juices flowing. The teetering keeps the scales in balance. And it’s these little moments of doing and sharing that allow us to relax just a little bit so we can enjoy that Netflix show or pleasure reading, because at least we did something. Something, that if all goes well, can do something for someone else, can bring together two ideas, can make a connection between two minds, can share something honest, small and true, and in that there is some kind of power.

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  1. Dana December 6, 2016 at 11:04 am

    I was just thinking about the same things the other days. I even took the time, on Saturday, to make an extensive To do & Ideas list, collecting all the scattered information and shorter lists I had all over the place. However, something went wrong on my computer (somewhere in the saving with a different format process) and I’ve lost most part of the list. I couldn’t recover it. I got mad for a while but then I decided to take it as a sign: just relax for a while, the ideas will come back, improved, the information ca always be found again.
    I think we need to impose ourselves breaks from the creative process. We need to live and not share for a while, to consume without giving back, from time to time. After these breaks, I find myself having more clarity and more ideas – right in time for the next to do lists and actions that I can postpone indefinitely :P

    1. esensky7@gmail.com January 16, 2017 at 10:42 pm

      Thank you for sharing, Dana! I somehow missed this comment until now! But yes, I totally agree with you. The more I’ve ruminated on this post, the more I’ve come to the same conclusion: we all need more down time and we shouldn’t try to force creation. Some of the bloggers/writers I admire most seldom post or publish. They only do it when they have something to say, and I really admire that. It makes their words more powerful. I think we all just have to find what works for us and try to block out the pressure to churn out “content”. And haha yes, indefinite to-do lists are my forte as well!


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