on the block

OOOOOOH the irony.

My friend Jeff recently invited me to contribute to a synchroblog (a bunch of people blogging on the same topic) about how to break through creative blocks. And I couldn’t think of a thing to write.

Experiencing writer’s block while working on a post about writer’s block is thirteen kinds of ridiculous, but I know why it’s happening; when I scrolled through the list of Christian “names” who had already written, I was intimidated to submit my little post into the fray. Suddenly it seemed necessary to not only contribute something to the discussion, but to do so with wit AND originality AND humor AND insight AND spiritual depth.

A tall order. Before working on this I’d been sitting in my hotel room in Mobile, Alabama eating peanut butter cookies. That seemed much easier than trying to compete with these other voices.

And that, of course, is the reason I’m stuck. When I write to compete instead of contribute, readers never get my best work. When I try to impress people, I miss the chance to impact them.

“If you want to write, you can,” says Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes. “You’re a human being, with a unique story to tell, and you have every right. If you speak with passion, many of us will listen. We need stories to live, all of us. We live by story. Yours enlarges the circle.”

That circle may be thousands of blog readers or a handful of Twitter followers. Resist the temptation to compare circle sizes; instead, consider what yours needs. What concerns them? Enrages them? Confuses them? What are they talking about, struggling with, laughing at? What stories are they living?

The usual suspects will always collaborate to block our creativity, whether it’s writing a blog post, a church enewsletter, or a book. But I’m learning (thanks, Jeff!) that one of the best ways for me to spark a new thought is to stop managing my “image” and start serving my readers. Considering my community is not only easier than trying to be the next super-blogger, it’s also a lot more fun.

What circles of influence do you have? What do those communities need from you this week?