One Hour Blog Post: Don’t Need To, Want To!

Every year, in December, when I get out my fall seasonal funk, I’m overflowed with the inevitable introspection that comes with all light depressive states.

As awesome as 2011 started (getting published ROCKS), the second half of the year has brought turmoil and uncertainties beyond what my strengthening psyche could manage without help. Brutal changes have rocked my life leading me to move into a new apartment, deal with the always unsatisfactory compromise that is shared custody of my children and deal with the unbridled joy (and distractions) of newly found love.

All this, coupled with keeping up with my client’s projects, has led me to slip out one of my best established habits: blogging. As I let this slide, my “need” to write online receded  and I stopped rationalizing why I didn’t feel the old compulsion to write as I have for so many years.

As I write these lines, I realize that “needing” is fed by the act of doing.

As I floundered in moving boxes,  struggled with deliverable and dove into awesome dates with the one I have been affectionately calling Dr. C, I realized that I more or less sat on the  achievements I worked hard to unlock after implementing the plan I successfully hatched, nearly 3 years ago,  redirecting my life. As a result, I need to take back control of my creative life. I need to start writing again.

Scratch that. When I hear people around me bemoaning their life, my inner coach wakes up. “I should” and “I need” are poisonous inertia-fueled guilt-trips. I need to think and speak action words!

Let’s try this again shall we?

I want to take back control of my creative life. I will start writing again.

Okay Chatty… how are you going to do this then? How about this?

Let’s go back to basics and tackle less ambitious subjects. Let’s start working on blog posts that I can write and edit in less than one hour (hence this post’s name). This column, being public and read by so many people, remains one of the best instant feedback soundboard there is out there. It forces me to pour a little bit more of myself in the text than if I was writing to my “Document” folder.

Plus, you all know how much of an attention whore I am.

Also, let’s ask Dr. C, my coach and muse, to add a ‘writing’ element to the  “getting  life back on track” game we’ve been playing. In it, I get rewards for doing exercises and eating better.  Thus, I’d also get rewarded to do something that I fundamentally enjoy doing: writing.

I’ve been at it for about 40 minutes so far  and I’m already about to hit the 500 words count.  This is a good sign as I type noticeably faster when I enjoy myself… and I totally am right now.

That’s EXACTLY what I was seeking.

What about you, when you need to be creative and have let the habit slide for too long, how do you get back in the groove?

Looking forward to hear from you. I miss reading comments! 🙂


  1. Make a realistic plan for how to get back on track. What time can you commit in a day, in a week, etc. What are some good goals to start off with. Habits are formed with repetitive action, and setting some short term goals to get yourself writing on a regular basis, will get those habits forming again. Once they are formed, they will help propel you along.

    The other thing, is I would look at distractions. Are other actions you are taking, are they contributing positively to your other goals? Some times we pick up habits that are just distractions or diversions to mask the things we really want or should be doing but for some reason we have let it lapse.

    I found for me, that I got overly caught up in social media and trying to build a brand around DNAphil, and let my efforts in the games I run for my gaming group slip. I have seriously cut back on my social media presence to put the focus where I think I need it to be.

    Take inventory and see what is using up your time each day, and decide if that its really helping your toward your goals.

    BTW, its nice to see a post from you. I am looking forward to seeing a bunch more.

  2. That’s very solid advice from my favorite Project Manager, GM and good friend. Especially the Social media thing.

    Thanks, I always appreciate the input you bring here and the kind words of support.

    Hope things are doing well and I look forward to seeing you this summer.

  3. Do something completely out of the ordinary. I went on a caving and camping trip (it was actually a GroupOn) with my regular D&D group, and all the D&D wives that were up for it. We explore caves all the time thru our characters, but have you ever crawled thru a narrow passage and have it open up into a huge room with 100 ft ceilings? Smell the smells, see what absolute darkness feels like. That’ll get the creative juices flowing. Go WAY outside the box.

  4. I’m glad I stumbled over this, and thank you for writing it.

    I lost my job at the end of October and found out only days ago that I was being denied unemployment benefits due to some underhanded manipulations of my previous employer. I have been a ball of anxiety, looking for work in this horrible economy, broke, single, depressed, and secluding myself for days at a time even though I know better (seclusion feeds the depression monster).

    I’ve been chewing on the line “needing” is fed by the act of doing” and it rings true. I’ve always wanted to write something, ANYTHING, but never was able to stick to it long enough to complete a project. My inner critical mini-me always made sure I knew exactly how pointless and uninteresting my clumsy attempts at putting words on paper were.

    Its funny how we are almost always our own worst enemies.

    In any case, thanks again for a very timely subject, and best wishes to you.

  5. I can relate to that feeling Chatty. Thanks for sharing this way of thinking. It is a subtle difference (I need vs I want to) that I didn’t really notice. I too have seen a lot of things flounder on the vine. What seems to hurt me the most is that I want to start new projects, but I have so many ideas it completely paralyzes me, knowing I can only do one. But I think that the best regenerative act of writing really is to start a new project. You may feel guilty for the things floundering on the vine, but that’s why you have to escape them for a while, I feel. To do something that’s fresh and has new, unencumbered perspective. Then you can return to the rest after, feeling empowered.

    I can also relate to being your own worst enemy, Daniel! I always hear the little niggling voice in my head. Especially during hard times like the ones I’m going through now. I always have that imaginary audience in my head judging what I’m doing and it can get really tiresome. But in the end, it’s like the parable of the talents: you only really experience failure and harm if you hide your talent in a hole. You have to do something with it, and by doing that and doing often you will get better. Even if you don’t finish a project, start a new one and put what you learned from the first one to constant use.

  6. I do a lot of these same things, Phil, and I think you’re on the right track.

    I experience a great deal of inertia when it comes to writing, and a week of not doing anything can easily find me completely tapped for ideas. Setting myself reasonable expectations and pace tend to help me.

    Excellent point about should vs. want to. My self-esteem has a tendency to take ongoing damage from that kind of crap. Thank you for the bonus to my future saves.

    I’m just glad to see you blogging again. I’m happy you’re doing Real Work now, but you were missed around here. You’ve been an inspiration to me ever since I started blogging, and I somehow do not expect that to end anytime soon.

  7. Hey Phil,

    Well it’s been a little while since you and I have chatted about these funny life altering experiences we are going through. You gave me some great advice right before GenCon and I really appreciated it.

    Strange how these moments can give you an unimaginable amount of creative drive if you are open to them. I went back to the basics. Threw myself into producing an indie movie which forced me to do a lot of writing for marketing pitches. That Forced writing caused me to catch fire on the creative and I went back to my “post by email” story that goes back some 15 years and add new content to it. I am currently taking that old content and moving it to its own blog. A lot of this is taken from seeing bloggers like you write about your passions and I take inspiration from that.

    I want to say thanks. And so glad to see you writing (in a non-paying, from the heart) way again. Keep it up, I find that it is cathartic.

    Just wanted to add my two sense and say…many thanks. And this too shall pass.

  8. @Thorynn: This is a great idea and such a creative application of a groupon 🙂 It must be amazing to have your gang of dungeon crawling friends together and doing some amateur spelunking. Thanks fpor sharing that! Did it ever add better descriptive elements in later games like “remember when we saw so and so structure?’

    @Daniel: I too wish you the best of luck in these hard times. If writing calls to you, do it indiscriminately. Leave the internal judge to do its work AFTER you’re done creating a piece… that’s what editing is for. And yes, the inner demons of self-doubt is very powerful. Learning to fight it is one of the most important skills a creative soul must learn.

    @Dennis: The “need vs want” shift in thinking was presented to me by my therapist way back when I kept going in guilt trip circles about all the things I should do instead of going forward and talk about things I would do. I’ve kept using it ever since… but I sometimes forget. And yes, finishing a project is important… but if you get paralyzed in one, move on to another until you decide to finish the first one… or abandon it… it always remains in your right. But learning to deliver a project, no matter how innane, is also a very important creative skill.

    @Vanir: Oh man, thanks for the kind words. I’m really happy to see how you’ve soared here and are making all these awesomely funny pieces. Keep at it and I’ll strive to do more!

    @Mike: It was my pleasure. I’m happy to see that you got moving into lots of projects and that seems to bring significant satisfaction to you. Thanks for hanging around and supporting me when I’m the one who faltered.

    Thanks everyone. You rule.

  9. I am working on time-sharing right now. I cut everything in my budget except the essential stuff. I realize I was depressed and it reflected in my D&D game to a point were I wanted to drop everything. My players told me after I confront them with the idea of stopping the campaign that my NPC as never been better, that yep my preparation was not optimal, but that I found good new adversity in face of improvisation. A new challenge! They explain that times are hard but getting together to play in fantasy world is the best therapy and what’s making them forget all the problems they add right now. Since that little talk I realize that I was feeling better with new eyes. Since I was helping others without knowing it… So your articles are like a new found Bible for me here. Keep writing you help us all sharing your precious knowledge’s…

  10. @Runeskin: I’m touched with your story. I’m happy that you too found solace in the act of preparing and playing roleplaying sessions. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the kind words you share, telling me that my writings help you a bit… I am honoured.

    Keep at it and I will keep my end of this bargain! Writing a cool post as I switch from it to here.