Thursday, November 29, 2007

15 Ways to Avoid Writer’s (Thinker's) Block
















Writer’s Block is a myth.

There’s no such thing.

See, writing is merely an extension of thinking.

So, if you hear someone complaining about her insufferable “Writer’s Block,” what she’s REALLY complaining about is her “Thinker’s Block.”

Because she’s not asking enough questions.
Because she’s not taking daily time to think.
Because she’s not maintaining constant curiosity.
Because she’s not viewing the world through her unique lens.

Those are just (some) of the causes of Thinker’s Block.

But there's more. And if you want to avoid it, remember these six words:

CREATE A CONSTANT STREAM OF IDEAS!

Here’s a list of fifteen ways to do so:

1. U NEED 2 REED EVERY DAY. This is the #1 reason people suffer from Thinker’s Block: they don’t read. (And no, US Weekly doesn’t count!) I’m talking about BOOKS. Old and new. Every single day. Also, I suggest reading more than one book at once. Keep reading material in your car, bathroom, briefcase, gym bag, desk and anywhere else you spend a lot of time.

2. Copy your notes. Don’t just read; STUDY! Take copious notes. Write related ideas in the margins. When you’re done, re-copy your notes onto your computer. Store them in a folder called “Book Notes.” Revisit them regularly to refresh your melon.

3. Write everything down. Writing is the basis of all wealth. And if you don’t write it down, it never happened. That’s all I have to say about that.

4. Everything communicates something. But are you paying attention? Probably not. And yes, it’s hard. Especially in such a fast-paced society. So, remember the words of Ferris Bueller: “Life move pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while – you could miss it.” What does your hurried lifestyle make you miss out on?

5. Soften your eyes. Literally AND metaphorically. It’s about slowing down and noticing the novelties of life. It’s about being more mindful of your surroundings. Studying ordinary things intently. Are you making the mundane memorable? (More on Eye Softening tomorrow)

6. Think on paper. That way you won’t have to remember anything. So, based on your learning style, use flip charts, whiteboards, voice recognition software, note cards or mind maps to record your thoughts.

7. Capture, capture, capture. Don’t (just) write stuff down. Take pictures. Rip articles out of magazines. Pick up trash and keep it. Save voicemail messages. Keep key emails and letters. Constantly update a folder full of scraps and ideas you jotted down on vomit bags three months ago. You never know when a bad idea might come in handy!

8. Write Morning Pages. These are the single best tools I’ve EVER discovered as a professional writer. They prime the pump, get the creative shanks out and allow your best material to surface. And if you make them a habit every single morning, you will NEVER have Thinker’s Block again. Read how to do Morning Pages here.
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9. Exercise every day. Aka, solvitas perambulatorum. Even if it’s just a fifteen-minute walk. It’s the best way to get the endorphins and dopamine flowing. Best legal high in the world. Best source of ideas in the world. Plus it’s, like, good for your health and stuff.

10. Easy Does It. Keep running lists of quotes, one-liners, great ideas, cool words, websites, pieces of advices and short thoughts. Start documents called “Quotes” and “Ideas.” Just list them and updated them daily. No explanations. Just list. By recording your incomplete, fragmentary association process, you stimulate and inspire highly saturated streams of thought.

11. Perpetually hunt for insight. Inspiration comes unannounced! And your constant stream of ideas flows everywhere. So, actively respond to life. Maintain childlike curiosity and ask, “Why?” to everything you see, hear and experience.

12. Prime your brain. Each morning, affirm that new ideas, concepts and thoughts will come into your mind. Maintain a receptive and creative posture for your mind. Meditate daily. Have daily appointments with yourself to mentally prepare your mind to accept ideas from all sources. Prime your brain and the ideas will come to YOU!

13. Stop organizing. Premature organizing stifles idea generation. Just get it down. Make lots of lists for EVERYTHING. Order comes later. First, puke everything out. Then, don't stop until your cashed. Finally, review (and update) the list over time.

14. Ask and you shall receive. Questions are the basis of all creativity, discoveries, innovation, knowledge, learning and understanding. So, you need to have a readily available list of questions you ask yourself on a daily basis.

15. Punch yourself in the face. Consider writing your motivational questions on sticky notes or on your wall. By keeping them in front of your face at all times, you will challenge yourself AND keep yourself creativity accountable. Potential questions include, “What did you write today?” and “Is everything you know written down somewhere?” REMEMBER: questions are ideas waiting to happen. Learn how to punch yourself in the face here.

With these fifteen ways to create a constant stream of ideas, you melon will be motivated from every possible angle.

And you’ll never have to worry about Writer’s (er, Thinker’s) Block again!

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How do you combat thinker's block?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Share your tips here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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