I’ve been inspired lately by some new friends who use their daily blogs as a place for musing and exploring ideas; their blog posts are often short entries offering personal reflections. A window into their soul as they get to know themselves.
That was part of my vision when I first created my blog; I harbored an intention to write from the innermost place of my being, to let my truth stumble onto the page.
A daily blog does not need to be a landing place only for finished ideas — is an idea ever really finished, anyway? It can be a place to work through ideas.
I return often to a commencement speech by Dan Pink, in which he shared the advice of his senior year writing teacher:
Sometimes, you need to write to figure it out.
All writing is this, in some form.
What Could Be vs What Should Be
My vision of what my blog could be is often eclipsed by the expectations I place on myself for what a blog — my blog — should be: that every blog post should impart a lesson or reveal wisdom or make a call to action.
This expectation is propped up by a story that publishing my personal musings adds no value to anyone else and a belief that musings are not “real” blog posts.
The story and belief are that “real” blog posts are authoritative and informative.
Expectations, stories, and beliefs weave together to form rules about what “counts” and what is “acceptable” or “appropriate” to publish.
Crush of Constraints
Creativity values constraints; boundaries are necessary and even helpful to the creative process.
But these expectations, stories, and beliefs — and their resulting rules — are not helpful constraints.
They often sit on my chest like weights, preventing oxygen from filling my lungs. They crush my life force, causing a slow death.
Where do they even come from?
More important: Why am I allowing them to control me?
In most circumstances, I consider rules to be suggestions that are meant to be challenged, questioned, and broken.
Why do I cling so strongly to these rules?
Exploring the Rules
An illumination: Where do these rules come from? and Why am I steadfast in adhering to them? find their answer in the same place.
These expectations, beliefs, and stories — and the rules they spawn — arise as a means of protection. They create a barrier that keeps my heart at a safe distance from my work. By following these rules, I can allow my work to be seen while I remain in hiding.
And this is why these constraints feel like they are crushing me — they are. The expectations I hold for what this should look like are keeping me my heart locked inside while the words go out and do the work. Except the words that come out are not nearly as powerful as they could be if my heart were free to participate in the process.
Proof of Concept
Reading what my new friends share on their blogs, I notice that they don’t ascribe to the same rules and expectations I follow.
One day a friend left me hanging with an open-ended idea. He never brought it to conclusion; he didn’t wrap it up with a shiny bow, spoon-feeding me 3 tips or 5 ways to implement. There was no TL;DR. It didn’t feel complete.
I noticed my discomfort around this.
My story tells me that to share a musing or an insight without giving direction is selfish.
I sat with the discomfort of this, and then I noticed how it made me consider the situation and find my own insights.
I realized that far from being selfish, my friend was being generous. He trusted me to get what I needed.
I noticed that I receive a lot of value from my new friends’ musings.
Perhaps it’s time to take a new look at the rules.
Rules are meant to be broken. Even my own.