Ideas are a finite resource. In any creative discipline, whether it be writing, design, photography, videography, or something else, we depend heavily on ideas and on the creative process. There are some days, some weeks, where it all comes easy. Your ideas are flowing so well that your pen touches paper and moves almost under its own power. The past week has not been one of those weeks.
I have been staring at my computer screen, my face and mind both completely blank, trying to figure out how to start this entry. Yes, this is a diary of sorts, and the point of a diary is just to document what happens. But this is also content, written for the company blog, and I want to do it well. The problem I face, besides my own brain’s current lack of creative flow, is that over the past couple of weeks, I’ve developed a routine for how I approach my internship. Typically, this would be a good thing — getting into a comfortable workflow makes productivity much easier. However, for writing purposes, routine is the enemy.
One of the first things hammered into my brain as a journalism student was that every story needs conflict. This doesn’t mean violence or fighting or anything like that — just narrative conflict. For instance, a short story might center around a man who can’t decide if he wants to stay in his hometown or move to the city. That’s conflict. (Inner conflict, in this example, but conflict nonetheless.)
So, this was my problem: “Everything is going great, I’m developing a comfortable routine in my internship” is not a story. It may be a pleasant statement, but it is not interesting. To freshen things up, I could make a catastrophic mistake every week and then write about that, but both Kevin and I would veto that idea quickly (for very different reasons, maybe, but the result would be the same). The solution, then, has to lie within the borders of the comfortable routine I have fortunately found.
Thankfully, life threw me a lifeline. I got a text from Eric, King of the Interns, complimenting my most recent blog post, the one about my first mistake on the job. Eric is a kind, usually gentle soul who, despite those qualities, delights in jokes that poke fun at himself, me, you, and the world around him. He is good at this. His congratulatory text was followed by this one: “Also, smile if that’s the biggest mistake you make.” Then he made a joke at his own expense.
My comfortable routine, accompanied by the occasional and unavoidable bout of writer’s block, may be a bane in the moment. That is a problem I can live with just fine. I will smile, content that I am not currently making a mistake — and hoping I’m not about to make a big one.