How often do you go to write something — a blog, a Facebook post, or an email — and…
NOTHING COMES OUT!
You could call it writer’s block, creative brain freeze, or The Big Blank, but it all is the same. The words simply won’t come out.
For me, it happens way too often. What should normally take me 20 minutes ends up taking hours, or even days. I used to think of it as an inability to write. I’d catch myself saying, “I’m not a very good writer.” or “Writing is not my strong suit.” But, one day I was reading a blog post I’d written a few years ago and thought, ‘Damn, girl! You really can write when you are passionate about your message. This is GOOD STUFF!’
So, how do you get the words to start flowing? Here are five techniques to tap into when you aren’t feeling silver-tongued.
ONE: Give Yourself a Pep-Talk
Just because you can’t put something on paper doesn’t mean your ideas aren’t flowing. It could be that your inner monologue is so loud it won’t let your ideas come out.
For a long time, every time I’d sit down to write, my inner monologue would start shouting at me. It would say things like, ‘Ugh, I suck at this!’ and ‘Just face it, you are a terrible writer. Just own it and move on.’ So, I listened. I’d convinced myself I was a terrible writer so I became a terrible writer. The more I tried to write, the harder it was. Plus, what I did write was pretty weak. I was totally living up to my own expectations.
But, for the longest time, I’ve always wanted to be an author and publish a book. It is part of my daily manifesting practice and journaling. In order to be a published author, I also must be a good writer. So, I started writing, ‘I write with ease and am a best selling author.’ and ‘I am eloquent and share my message with confidence.’ as part of my daily affirmations. Even after one day I was already starting to see a difference as I attempted writing.
On the occasion it is still hard to start, especially when I hear my inner monologue start, I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and change my inner monologue to, ‘I am a great writer and people want to hear what I have to say,’ repeating this several times to myself. Usually, within minutes, I’m able to write my first words.
TWO: Do Something Thoughtless
AAHHERRMMM? What now?!?! Did you say thoughtless?
Let me rephrase. Do something that requires very little thought to accomplish — something you can do on autopilot. My go-to is taking a shower. Showering is one of the best creative incubators arounds. In fact, Samantha Parker (my Badassery Mag co-badass) and I have an almost daily ritual of sharing our Shower Thoughts. (Yes… it’s a thing.) Other activities may be going for a drive, talking a walk, or jumping on the treadmill. It could be anything that requires muscle memory to accomplish but not intense thinking on your part.
Why does this work? Because… SCIENCE! Through a set of recent studies, scientists have determined that not only can people generate ideas during conscious thought, but also subconsciously. During one of the studies, scientists asked two groups of participants to think of as many uses for a paperclip as they could. In group A, participants thought about it with no distractions. In group B, participants had to complete another task (count backwards by threes) while coming up with uses.
After their thinking time was over, each participant had time to write down as many uses as possible. Both groups were able to write down uses. If the participants were given either 1 minute or 5 minutes to think, group A had more novel ideas. If the participants were given 3 minutes to think, group B was the one with more novel ideas. They found that people using unconscious thought to generate ideas for a moderate amount of time had the best ideas.
THREE: Just Keep Swimming
Both of my kids LOVED Finding Nemo and couldn’t wait until Finding Dory came out. Of course, both movies included Dory’s iconic phrase, “Just keep swimming” and Dory’s short-term memory loss was the ULTIMATE example of stream of consciousness I’ve ever heard. Because she can’t remember things that happened over a few seconds before, all of her thoughts build off each other without worrying about the long-term context.
This Stream of Consciousness technique in writing can help you break through the creative blocks that stand in your way of getting started. Simply start writing. It doesn’t matter what you say. It doesn’t matter if it is on topic or you are simply writing what your inner monologue is saying to you. The point is to simply start writing and not stop. Just keep swimming in your stream and eventually, your ideas will form organically.
Once you have a grasp on your topic and how you want to frame it, you can start thinking about structure and edit what you’ve written. Keep the important messages and expand on them. Use what you’ve written for inspiration on future writing.
FOUR: Repurpose and Expand
If you are just starting out, this technique may not work for you. But, if you’ve been writing for a while and have accumulated a body of work, this technique could be your golden goose.
If you feel like you don’t have anything ‘new’ to add, or that you’ve said it all before, take that feeling and embrace the hell out of it. Select a topic from something you’ve already written and expand on it. This could be a blog post, a challenge, a course, or even a Facebook post. Copy and paste it into a new document and start editing. Is there a section you can put under a microscope? Did you leave something out the first time? Do you have a personal story or example you can share to reinforce your point? Leverage what you’ve already done and make it even more valuable for your audience.
FIVE: Ask for a Divine Download
You don’t have to have all the answers. Sometimes, you have to get guidance from outside of yourself. This is where mediation and listening steps in. Find a calm space, close your eyes, take deep breaths and ask the Universe, ‘What message does my audience need to hear?’
Focus on your breathing and let thoughts come in. Is it a question that’s come up in your community? Do you know someone struggling with a problem you could solve? Listen and let your intuition guide you as the words flow.
I often do this while I’m in the shower each morning, especially on the days I know I need to write something, like a blog post or email. When I put out the question in the morning, as I work through my day, my unconscious mind continues to think about my message and I can stay open to receiving divine downloads and having those ‘a-ha’ moments.
Next time you are find yourself creatively blocked and nothing is flowing, take a step back and try one of these techniques to get going again. Each time will be a little easier. And, when you get stuck (which will still happen) you’ll have these tools you use to get your flow back.
About the Author
Kathy Rasmussen is the Cofounder and Artistic Director of Badassery Magazine and Co-host of Badassery Podcast. She’s passionate about giving entrepreneurs the tools they need to follow their dreams and live a life of happiness and purpose.
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