Last week, I was feeling creatively stagnant after a 6 week break.
What the hell should I write about?
I want to grow as a writer and have ambitions to publish my own book. But I was stuck in my own shit, inside my own head, trying to claw my way out by looking deeper and deeper inside myself.
Plus, I was feeling self-conscious about showing up. Hence last week’s post. And no wonder. All of my attention was on myself.
And then I made a subtle shift: I asked for help.
I did it in two ways.
First, via my newsletter, asking you all: What would you like me to write/share/do more of here? Or: What do you need help with in life/work/career that I might be able to shine light on?
Next, on Facebook via this post:
Suddenly the hesitations I had about “showing up” and putting myself out there became less about me, and more about serving others. Although I posed a question, I wasn’t showing up to ask FOR anything. I flipped the switch. I was reaching out for help and showing up to serve.
Partially I needed help finding topics to write about. But also I was curious to understand: what do you feel like I could help you with?
I reached out my hand, and those of you who responded handed me a mirror.
Between the Facebook post and newsletter, about 50 questions from you all have come back. And whereas usually I have a monkey of a time figuring out what to write about and where to start, the simplicity of just responding to 1 very specific person and trying to shine a little light or relieve a little pain on whatever they’re going through, the writing process became fluid and hugely liberating. I’ve been writing like a fiend.
In shifting from a self-focused to service-focused, my writing output skyrocketed. I’ve probably written the equivalent of 10 blog posts in the last 5 days. Far more writing than I’ve done in a long, long time.
Answering questions helped me get out of my own damn head.
It also reminded me of one of the secret weapons in a writers’ toolkit to get over writer’s block: write to 1 specific person.
If you’re struggling to “put yourself out there” or feeling self-conscious, chances are the focus is too inward.
What if putting yourself out there – on social media, in your work, in life – was less about you and more about the people you’re trying to serve?
After all, you’re likely putting yourself out there not solely as its own end, but for the people you’re helping, the work you’re doing, the art you’re creating, the relationships you’re fostering.
And when you give, your courage is magnified. You become less self-conscious. Because it’s not about you any more.
There’s a mantra in the startup/investor world:
“Ask for money, get advice. Ask for advice, get money.”*
It doesn’t fit 100% for what I’m trying to say, but I think what I’m after is this: sometimes by asking for help and/or sharing what you’re struggling with, you indirectly achieve your goals.
To get out of your head, help someone else.
*After researching, I think this was actually the rapper Pitbull. Respect.