I wish I could talk to all the people who are afraid to speak their truth, or who are stuck in the mud of writer’s block, or overwhelmed with the fog of “I don’t know.” I wish I could tell them that is doesn’t matter what they say; they just need to say something to get started. That would be easier, right? If I told myself, “Anything is fine!” one would think that I would have an easier time of settling in and writing through writer’s block.

Unfortunately, this advice is hogwash. We’re too smart. We know that ‘anything’ is not actually fine. Some writing stinks, and some speeches waste people’s time or do more harm than good. With all the other things I love to do in life, I am mindful of how I want to use my time—and other people’s time as well. Telling myself that it doesn’t matter what I write as long as I am writing is like my telling the taxi driver it doesn’t matter where we go as long as you keep driving me around. Sure, I might see some interesting sights, but it’s not how I want to spend this particular day. If I’m going to bother to show up, and put pen to paper and all that, it does need to matter.

I’m willing to bet you have some experience with writer’s block. Most people I know have had a moment when they showed up to write something and discovered either their brain was blank or their ideas felt way too inadequate to bother writing out for anyone else to see.

When I have nothing to write, or I’m shooting down my ideas faster than I can list them, I take a moment to think of you, my readers. I actually greet you in my head. “Hey, good morning. How’s it going? How are you feeling today? What’s up in your world?” I see you sitting there, with coffee or tea in hand. I see your pajamas. I see your business suit. I allow myself a moment to connect with what we have in common—you and I.

Once you are here, in my writing room with me, I think about what I could do that might brighten your day. Bring you a little hope. Add a laugh or two to your morning. What do I have in my heart that might make you feel a little lighter or a little less stuck?

When we choose to speak, and when we write, we are giving a gift of ourselves to others. Of course we want them to like our gift! Of course we want our gift to reflect the thought and care we feel for the person who will receive it. In the end, though, giving a gift starts first with believing we have something in our treasure chest worth giving. Before we select the gift, we call to mind that person we adore and think about what they might need. Whether they like what we give them or not is a separate issue. Hence the expression, “It’s the thought that counts.” If our intentions are good, and we focus on what someone else needs to receive, then our treasure chests refill themselves, almost magically, and we have abundant options We will have something to say precisely because what we say or write does matter.