Go Pro

What do writers do when they don’t have an idea to write about? What do runners do when they just don’t feel like running? What about the salesperson who doesn’t want to prospect? I guess that depends on a few things—like commitment and determination. Maybe vision as well. As one of my favorite writers, Steven Pressfield, points out, the answer will depend on whether they have determined to be a pro or continue as an amateur.

Pros will sit down, get up, pick up the phone or do whatever is needed to get on with it, whatever it is—writing, running, opening the shop, calling the customers. Pros don’t let dread, apathy, feeling down, not feeling witty or writer’s block stop them. They just get to it anyway.

As I write these very sentences, I am fighting writer’s block. I emerged from my sleep coma this morning and thought to myself, “What In the world will I write about?” For weeks it wasn’t a problem. I had a ton of stuff I wanted to write about. When people made comments to me like, “How do you get your ideas?” I would feel all smug and think, “They are everywhere,” knowing I would never face the problem of writer’s block.

Oh how pride goeth before the fall. So, what to do? Pretty easy (pride just keeps popping up)—sit down and start writing. That is what I did. I sat down and just started to write, trusting that in taking action, inspiration would come. This is a great principle to remember, action, is often the catalyst for inspiration and ideas.

I learned this principle on the stage. A few years ago I took an improvisation acting class. These days it’s popular to take improvisation acting technique classes for learning better business communications and team building. I didn’t take a business version of improv, I took an actual acting class taught on-stage in a seedy downtown theater. After six weeks, we put on an improv show in front of a live audience. I don’t hesitate to say I was funny. Since you weren’t there I can claim on stage success.

One of the great things I learned was that when you are on-stage and stuck—move. Walk, run, change your position, do something with your hands, it doesn’t matter. What matters and where the magic comes from, is in movement.  And I bet you thought that magic came from pixie dust—not so my friend.

By moving you change your perspective. You change what your senses are perceiving and receiving, which provides new inputs into the brain. The brain does a wonderful thing with those new inputs and allows you to come up with ideas you had not thought of even just a second ago. Your efforts provide your muse with the materials she works with. Movement is often the raw material of creativity.

What does movement look like for a writer? Fingers on the keyboard typing away. What does it look like for the sales pro? Calling on the prospect.

You never know what ideas will come of movement. For instance, one of the things that began to become clear to me as I was writing this blog post, that wasn’t before (because I was so full of myself and all my ideas) is that it would be helpful to create an editorial calendar for this blog. Not a novel idea, but one that became salient once I found myself lacking in ideas with a deadline looming.

Being a pro often requires action before revelation. Amateurs think it happens the other way around. So to all my friends, come join the ranks of the pros—good stuff awaits your action.

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