Parent’s block

2010 January 25
by Evan Lenz

I’ve fallen off the blogging horse for the last two weeks, and now it’s time to get back on. I ran out of pre-written articles, and I haven’t been writing new ones consistently. Two things will help me move forward:

  • Setting aside a particular time of the day to focus on writing
  • Continuing to let go of perfectionism in both writing and parenting

Perfectionism has always been an issue for me. If I don’t have something written perfectly or thought through perfectly, I tend to get stuck. Writing has always been difficult for me, but as I’ve learned to let go of perfectionism, things have gotten easier. I’ve embraced this mantra: “Done is better than perfect.”

Bloggers lead double lives. There’s the life we live on the Web—our online persona (perhaps one of many). And then there’s the real, day-to-day life we live at home and at work. It’s funny how a book, or even a blog post, creates a static representation of an author in the reader’s mind, since that may be all they have to go on. When reading a self-help book by an “expert” on self-help, we assume that the author is probably a high-functioning person, having mastered and applied the techniques they espouse. Or when reading a book about spirituality, we assume that the deep insights therein come from a person who is spiritually grounded, devoted to God, [insert whatever ideal picture of spirituality you have]. And clearly, for someone to have such insights, they have to have been in touch with a truth that’s greater than themselves. But the thing I unconsciously forget is that they’re people, just like me. They might be getting old. They may die soon. They may be going through a tough time. They may be “backsliding”. They may have been failing. The point is that they’re changing, and the book they wrote is just a snapshot of what they were thinking at a particular time in their life. The book may be quite popular, and the book itself doesn’t change. But as soon as it’s published, the writer and the book begin separate lives. The writer goes onto live their real life, perhaps writing more books, or perhaps not, but in any case, the writer is not the book. In a certain sense, this is so patently obvious that it seems silly to be saying it. But I have to remind my less-than-conscious mind not to equate a book with its author.

I think that one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging is that I feel like I haven’t been a very good parent lately. And I have this (increasingly conscious) belief that, to write about something, you must be an authority on the topic, or at least you must practice what you preach. And I accept that these are good principles to follow. But what do you do when you fail to practice what you preach? Or when you start feeling like you don’t know what you’re talking about? Is the only option to stop writing? (That’s what I’ve done.) No, I don’t think so.

I think there’s another option that has integrity and that can create value for readers. Of course, it’s easy enough to think of options that have neither. (Keep on B.S.-ing to sell more books. Live a double life. Pretend you’re something you’re not.) And we all know that the world has no shortage of pointless blogs. I think the key is simply this: honesty. Let people know you’re not perfect. That way they’ll relate to you better. Share what you can, even if it isn’t already perfectly thought through. People may still yield some benefit from what you have to say.

So now I’m doing something to overcome both of the things that were blocking me: lack of a scheduled time for writing, and perfectionism. First, I now have someone keeping me accountable for writing during the times that I say I’m going to write. And second, I’m going to start sharing about my failures as a father, not just my successes. And maybe get more, ahem, personal.

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2 Responses leave one →
  1. Colleen Smidt permalink
    January 27, 2010

    Thanks for writing and blogging Even. It is appreciated even if it is not always acknowledged.

    I am a local Mom who is also very involved in education issues. It is not easy doing both along with my full time job. I understand very well what a juggling act it is to want to get your message out, serve the community, make a difference and be a good parent on top of all of it.

    In fact tonight I will be chairing up the Bremerton School District Community Finance Meeting with my 8 almost 9 year old in tow. He is a trooper. He is also one of the only kids in the district that a majority of the Senior District Staff members know by sight and by name.

    I look forward to more of your posts.

    • Evan Lenz permalink*
      January 27, 2010

      Colleen, thanks so much for showing your appreciation and support. It feels good to get back on the blogging horse.

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