"You have permission to not write. But you don't have permission to do anything else." Neil Gaiman
Virtually everyone author that we admire struggles to write. Almost everyone author that we admire struggles to write. Yet they still push themselves. How?
Listen to the podcast where I share Neil Gaiman's process and solution. I also share other thoughts on how we have to hack our our minds to be productive in today's world.
Podcast interview of Tim Ferris and Neil Gaiman:
It's crazy to think how we have to play games with our own minds and ourselves to try to overcome some things in life. And in this case, and with this essay, I wanted to discuss that very thing, especially in the internet age that we live in. So in this video in podcasts, I wanted to discuss something that I read that inspired my latest essay titled: "How Successful Writers Push Past Distraction and Write Consistently". So let me read this to you. This is what I heard and what I read. Someone that I respect immensely in the marketing space for being a great marketer, a mentor, and a great dad shared this quote from Neil Gaiman. I believe I'm saying his name, right? He was on a podcast with Tim Ferris. The quote is this: "You have permission to not write, but you don't have permission to do anything else." And this just set up the context for this. This is his rule for writing his rule is that he gives himself time to sit down and write no distractions. Nobody around a kid has his son is. Removed these being taken care of and he goes to write. and you would think that it would just come easy for him as for many of the writers that we love and respect, but it's quite the opposite. In fact, if we read about their biographies, if we study them, as we start to realize that they actually are very human and how the same struggles that you and I do. Which is staying focused or being motivated to even write, even if they are focused, they are motivated to write. So Neil Gaiman, Gaiman, I'm really going to struggle with this. I'm just going to settle in on Neil Gaiman's quote struck me, and this is his rule for writing. He sets himself up. He gives himself time. He sits down and he's going to write. And if he doesn't feel inspired in that moment, he does nothing else under any circumstances. He just and he sits there. And from what he says is even if he's determined to just sit there, because nothing's coming to him is eventually the idea of just not doing anything, gets to him. Lightning strikes and he feels inspired and motivated to go and write. And that to me means a lot. It says a lot. I have a couple of mentors writing mentors who say something. And in that we, as writers need to set up sacred time, sacred hour. We need to respect our sacred hour early in the morning, and it has to be consistent. We have to maintain it. Almost like we're training ourselves that we sit down. For me, now meditation is, is a must. I don't even have it on my alarm or my alerts I just sit down and do it. And if we do anything through time, it becomes a ritual. Our body wants to go to that place. Our body wants to do these things our minds fires off automatically. So it makes perfect sense. But still I have had this problem. So this story in this podcast is on this problem that I have had that maybe you can resonate. And that is still maintaining focus, like setting up time as creatives. I feel that a lot of us have this issue. We set up time to create, but then don't necessarily feel inspired. What if you don't give yourself a choice or you're only out is just to sit there. Eventually the angst and that desire to do something takes over and you will eventually create something. So one of the things that I've done in my lifetime is to remove as much as many feeds from my life as possible. Given that we live in a digital age, we have the Facebook feed. We have the Twitter feed, Instagram feed. We have our mail, which essentially a mail feed. We have all types of feeds and all types of content coming out as perpetually. A couple of years ago, what I did to remove some of that was I deleted the Facebook app. I installed chrome extensions to remove the feeds from all the different platforms. And by the way, I'm a marketer. And I do online marketing. I do Facebook ads and Twitter ads and YouTube ads for my clients. So I still need to be on these platforms, but I needed to maintain my sanity. With everything going on, I couldn't continue to digest all this information and still be focused and still deliver value to my clients. And really just, even mentally just being able to bear all the negativity that's coming at us. I'll talk about this in another podcast when there's just so much coming, our mind is just our brains aren't equipped to take so much negativity and process that and not let it impact us. So I removed it. I did something really good there. I started to feel relief and it's fantastic. However, and getting back to the point here, however, I still get notifications from a handful of apps and not just the social media apps. Specifically on my iPad I was getting notifications from a lot of platforms from the Disney app from. Podcast apps from various things. And when I sit down and write, I feel this compulsive desire to swipe down to see what new notifications that come through. Because I get distracted for a moment and I'm like, oh, and I swipe down. And that right there is where I give myself. An out-creatively. And I guess from you, what are you doing to give yourself that permission to escape and to maybe let your mind and your thoughts your focus get distracted. I've already tried using the do not disturb feature on my iPad, but notifications still come through. This is really, really annoying and I just let it be, but it still would get my attention. I clicked and I bounce. I listened to that part of the interview with Tim Ferris and I let it sink in and it made perfect sense. And I decided that- screw it I'm going to go manually disable all the notifications. So when I sit down to write, cause the iPad has become my creative space. I sit down into a different, in a different space. I either sketch or I write and that compulsive behavior eventually takes over. I get distracted and I don't produce the work I want to produce in the time that I could. What's the worst is sometimes I just get so distracted... I'VE SAID DISTRACTED A LOT. I get so distracted that I can't find my focus. I can't find my point, I can't figure out the specific angle in the artistic piece, in the sketch or in the writing that I want to take, taking that moment. And I give up. I let it go. I walk away and I get back to work on my day to day kind of stuff. And it's frustrating because I want to create daily. So I decided to remove all the notifications, every one of them, and then even then pay attention to this. You might feel the same way. I still felt this internal struggle in turning them off or what if I'm in. What if it's important? What if, what if, what if. And I reminded myself one that I'm on my iPad. This is going to be my creative space. Or whenever I go sit in on my sofa, that's my creative space. I don't need to know everything that's going on in the world in that particular moment. If I get a phone call or a text, I can get it on my phone and I'll get back to them later. I don't want to be distracted. Nothing is that urgent? It's very few things are that are that urgent. And then more than any of the things, I'm still feeling that internal struggle. I remembered a tweet by Naval Ravinkant, Naval @Naval on Twitter. That resonated with me at the time. And it was perfect in this moment. And that was: notifications are just alarm clocks that others are setting for you." I hate that. I hate that idea that your Facebook, your YouTube, Instagram, despite as much as I need them for distributing my content, I hate that those notifications are literally alarm clocks that distract me and then make it more difficult for me to create So then I just turned off the notifications. I sat down and I was wondering what I was going to write and it dawned on me... this was what I was going to write about. This entire adventure and trying to figure out how it was going to honor my sacred time, sit down, write, sketch, do whatever it is I wanted to do or else I do NOTHING. I whipped the essay within 30, 45 minutes, another 15 and 20 minutes to actually edit it to where it's at least more consumable and stayed relatively on track. Now I'm recording this podcast. I feel a sense of fulfillment knowing that I was able to do all that by forcing myself, tricking myself. In this podcast I took a different approach and I wanted to share some of the things that I'm going through creatively in trying to put together this content that I'm sharing with you. If you're like me, then you're probably also struggling with attention, struggling with your mental health, as it relates to all the social media content coming at you. I think of this stuff often because I'm on it all the time. I have to be as part of my job, but there are measures that we can all take to ensure that we're preserving our mental health and preserving our space. I invite you to try something to start reclaiming your time and your mental space. Throw out those alarm clocks that are your notifications. Almost all of them are unessential, perhaps family conversations and texts that makes sense. But everything else can wait. Notifications from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter can wait. They don't need to be immediately responded to, and they don't need immediate attention. That is something that I'm doing for myself and I'd recommend maybe you consider. Thank you for tuning in again to this podcast. I really appreciate your time and your attention. And until next time bye-bye.