I had a problem that I couldn’t shake.
See, I played soccer with all my buddies growing up, and I was pretty good. But in three years I hadn’t scored a single goal. It was eating at me to the point where it was all I could think about. I never mentioned it to anyone, but I was beating myself up three times as week.
Then one brilliant, late summer day playing on a field right in the middle of the city, I launched a ball into the right corner of the net for my first goal. What made it more dramatic was that it was on a free kick, so I got to run around like a maniac with my hands in the air and no one else around me. I’d finally done it. The monkey was off my back.
So, you know what happened after I scored that goal? I scored another, then another. I had three in that one game. Call me “butter” because I was on a roll. As the season progressed, I became one of the top scorers on our team, and goals were commonplace to me. I went from beating myself up over not scoring to expecting to score. This went on for years.
You’re probably wondering what in the hell my soccer antics as a kid has to do with the writing slump you’re stuck in. A lot, really.
It just took that one goal to clear my mind and get back to having fun and playing my ass off. I was thinking about it too much, and as Bruce Lee says, “if you think too much about a thing, it’ll never happen.” My one action unleashed a series of reactions that completely turned me around. I relaxed, got my confidence back and quit pressing.
When you’re mired in a writing slump, only one thing will bring you out of it and cruising again, and that’s publishing something. Anything. Just get something out on your blog, on Medium or wherever your work lives. Hell, even send it to your mom. Never underestimate the power that comes from finishing something. Finishing one thing is more powerful that starting 1,000.
Once you get to finish a piece and watch it live outside your computer, you’ll want to get that feeling again, and again. So publish something — anything. It can be a 200 word thought, a poem, or a thank you letter to your greatest writing influence. Just get it out into the world and get the feeling of accomplishment back. You’ll quickly follow it up again, again. Maybe not as fast as my goals, but you never know. In fact, the story you’re reading right now is my slump-buster. Can’t wait to see what follows.
image by Toronto History via CC by 2.0