It was 5:45 in the morning, and Warner was sitting in front of his computer screen. He was staring at the screen without the faintest idea what to say. What seemed like hours past and still he remained glued to his seat, eyes fixed on the blinking line and not a clue what to write.
Warner was all too familiar with writer’s block or whatever it was that brought his free flow of words and ideas to a sudden halt. In fact, he’d just written a piece detailing the methods of various authors in dealing with the inevitable dry spell. It was all fresh in his mind.
He knew writers like Steven Pressfield, William Zinsser, or Maya Angelou would tell him to just write something. They’d tell him to keep showing up every single day and putting words on the page. They’d tell him not to worry about what he was producing, but to focus on the simple act of putting whatever was swimming around in his brain, down on the page.
Warner new these things and yet in his chair he remained, still, silent, not making a move, not typing a single word. What was wrong with him? He had the solution to his problem, all he needed to do was act.
He could feel the tension, anxiety and anger building up within. His chest was tight, his heart was pounding and his mind felt like a giant nutcracker had him in its grasp. It was quickly becoming something beyond his control and the cold logic of his mind gave way to wild, untamed emotions. As the heat became too much to bear, Warner exploded with fury.
He grabbed the nearest object to him and flung it across the room. Luckily the nearest object was a fat yellow highlighter he had left out the night before, and his unplanned and uncontrolled outburst only resulted in that fat little highlighter hitting the couch. The fury of his throw and the meager result only served to insight greater angst and frustration in Warner. He didn’t know what to do, he was at his wit's end.
And then in an act of defiance he started detailing his morning and frustrations. One paragraph, then two and so on he went, until he was staring at three pages of output. The dam had broken and Warner was now back in the saddle again. He was elated and couldn’t believe his production after such a putrid beginning to the day.
Not too long after completing his task, he looked up to see his wife. Unaware of the struggle Warner had endured and the painstaking process he’d underwent to accomplish his writing goal that day, she simply smiled and said good morning. Warner sprang from his seat, kissed his wife and gleefully walked to the kitchen with her.
He told her all about his battle with his inner critic and the hills he had to climb in getting pen to page. And then in the midst of it all, a strange and terrifying notion struck him, what if it happened all over again tomorrow? Would he be able to push through? Would he be able to stare down the monsters within a second time?
In less than 24 hours he would be sitting in front of the same screen, staring at the same blank page, asking inspiration to strike once more. It plagued him all through the day. There was rarely a moment in which it wasn’t lurking in the back of his mind, almost as if it were taunting him.
He awoke the next day and headed straight for his desk. Armed with nothing more than a hot cup of coffee and an eagerness to see what today’s session would hold. He sat down and to his surprise his inner demons we're if anything punctual. Warner was depressed. After all he’d been through the previous morning, he thought his troubles might be over, they weren’t.
It was a new day, requiring new courage. When he realized this, he started pounding the keyboard, stroke by stroke until his goal for the day was done. He’d done it once more. He showed up and so did the muse. He may have been a little tardy but better late than never.
Warner was beyond excited, two days in a row—he was making progress. His wife walked into the room and the conversation repeated itself, along with the nagging self doubt that plagued him.
Such is the story of Warner’s life. He is a writer and each day is a grind. He has to show up each and every day ready to do battle with his inner doubts until his muse comes riding on a white horse to rescue him.
His muse doesn’t call ahead or make an appointment. He doesn’t let Warner know when of if he’ll strike. He works by his own rules, and on his own schedule. Warner has zero control over him, but he can control himself. He can show up each and every day. He can get up everyday and plop himself down in front of a new blank page. Everyday won’t go smoothly and there will be too many days where he feels like a failure, but if he keeps showing up again and again at least his muse will know where to find him. Showing up as they say, is half the battle.