Dorothy Parker famously said: “I hate writing. I enjoy having written.” Don’t we all? We love the end result, the feeling of accomplishment and creative fulfillment. But the hardest thing for most writers is the simple act of getting started. Here’s the usual scenario: A great idea pops into your head while in the shower. By the time you’re dry enough to turn on the computer, you’ve forgotten what it was. Stare at the blank computer screen. Nothing. Get up and fix a cup of coffee. Nothing. Check email. Check your Facebook page. Read other people’s Facebook pages. Resist temptation to play Angry Birds. Got to write something. HELP! Here are five quick tips for getting yourself unstuck (followed by four more tips on how to apply them in the real world) … Take notes Try freewriting Draw a mind map Play with your dog Give thanks 1.
Take notes Phone Number List Creativity and innovation cannot be planned. Ideas can come out of nowhere, often at the most inopportune times (see shower, above). Be prepared to capture those ideas when they occur, rather than straining to recreate them later. Keep a notebook and pen or recording device next to the bed, in the kitchen, on your desk. Use Evernote on your computer, tablet, and/or smart phone. This free app collects information from everywhere and compiles neatly into one place for later retrieval by keyword search. From pictures to web pages to travel itineraries, everything is stored for easy access. 2. Try freewriting This technique is designed to prime the pump, to get something flowing, even if it makes no sense. Just write, stream-of-consciousness style, anything that comes into your head. Don’t think about style, grammar, or punctuation. Just keep writing. If an old nursery rhyme or silly song surfaces, write that. Before long, you will have emptied your brain of the clutter and some ideas that make sense will come to the surface. Voila! You’re writing! 3. Draw a mind map Most people know what mind-mapping is.
The easiest way to describe it is an outline in picture form. The key using mind-mapping effectively is to create your own personal style, not try to follow someone else’s format. First, do it in color — lots of colors. Get a set of colored pens on your desk and keep plenty of scratch paper handy. Start with keywords and add images if you want. Jot down every topic or idea in no particular order. Later you can go back and number them in an order that makes sense. Now you have an outline — you’re organized and ready to write. 4. Play with your dog Or your cat, hamster, goldfish — whatever. Not writing when you think you should be writing creates stress which effectively shuts off the flow of creativity. This creates even more stress, and the beat goes on. Break the cycle. Go outside and throw the ball for Fido. Watch the hummingbirds in your garden, feel the breeze on your face. (Note: this method does not work in Minnesota in January.) Don’t have a goal or a time limit. Just be. 5. Give thanks Feeling creatively blocked makes you cranky and anxious, as though the world and all its muses are conspiring against you.
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