How does writing into all the little spaces of life? How do you find your voice when there are so many louder, fancier, “better” voices out there already?
It feels like a tough question.
Sometimes I give up before I’ve even started. Sometimes the words are left hanging while the cursor blinks desperately for attention.
Everyone has something more important to say.
“The guardians of high culture will try to convince you that the arts belong only to a chosen few, but they are wrong and they are also annoying. We are all the chosen few. We are all makers by design,” says Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Big Magic.
But finding that maker’s voice? It’s an epic journey some days.
If it’s on your to-do list these days, here’s a shout out from someone else who is fighting the same battle with every single blank page. We can’t let the blankness win. We all have stories waiting to be told.
And since the Internets like lists, here are some of my goals and a few ideas we could tackle together.
Look at the cat GIFs a little less.
From one social media junkie to another, it’s hard to pull away. Really hard. But what if we let all those other voices in social media get just a smidge smaller? Would we be able to hear our own voices a little better?
My goal is to start small. I’m going let myself swipe and then swipe a little more. Get up to date on the baby pics, what coffeeshop my college buddy checked in at today. (Why do they still have to look so ageless? Crazy!) But I’ll let a few of those lucky chain forwards and memes and political fight pickers go without reading. A new batch will be there tomorrow anyway.
What if, instead of watching one more Instagram story we just looked for our own story? What if you sat on the steps and looked at the sunset instead of a screensaver? Or snuggled under the blankets and gave your imagination room to roam?
What stories would tip toe out?
Grab your ideas the second they come.
Don’t wait for an idea to fully form. Don’t promise yourself you’ll scribble it down when you get a quiet minute. Do it now! On that phone notebook app, a napkin, the back of your hand.
I’ve lost so many ideas because I file it away in my head thinking I’ll jot it down in a minute. Or tonight. Or I tell myself I need to think that idea through later. But then life happens and only the scattered crumbs are left behind. My new goal: scribble it down and stash the idea. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it’s important to give inspiration more respect. Honor the fact that she picked you.
Fear might slow you down, but don’t let it halt progress.
One of my favorite (and one of the funniest) writers, Jon Acuff, had this to say about listening too much to what other people say: “I’ve been told I can’t write. I’ve been told I can’t start a business. I’ve been told I can’t make it. I’ve been told don’t. And so have you. But never let people who won’t, tell you don’t.”
Lots of people, even accidentally, tell us what we can’t do. Those are usually the people who let fear stop their own progress. Fear can be a pushy boss. He likes to get your face and shout about unknowns and what ifs. The more you listen, the louder he talks.
Fear doesn’t really ever stop talking. You have to figure your own way to keep moving while he keeps talking. It’s alright if you don’t move at warp speeds. Progress isn’t about breaking speed limits; it’s about moving forward and never giving up.
So, this year, I might not hit any best-seller lists or make enough to buy a vacation home, but it’ll still be a success if I mess up a bunch of times and keep going, refresh my newsfeeds less and and grab my ideas the second they come.