How to Blog

Get Rid of Writer’s Block Once and For All

0 Comments 01 March 2012

White typewriter

So you want to start a blog.

You sit down to a blank piece of paper, or a blank word document, and you stare. And you stare. And you stare.

So you get up and get some coffee.

Then you have to pee.

So you’re in the bathroom, and you start fixing your hair. Because you want to look good for your computer, right? No, but it’s always tempting to fix your hair when you’re in the bathroom.

So you sit back down at the computer. You check your emails. Check your twitter. Check your Facebook.

Now your stomach is growling and you’re hungry. Get some food. Ay yi yi. Now you’re thirsty. Better get some water.

Soon the day is done, and your grandiose plans to start a blog were thwarted by the fact that you couldn’t write a single damn thing.

Well, you have writer’s block.

The problem isn’t that you don’t know where to start, the problem is that peeing and primping and dining aren’t the right preparation for writing.

I use the same philosophy for writing blog posts that I did for writing college essays: the writing is the very final step.

By the time you get to the writing, you should be marinating in so many ideas that you don’t know where to start – because your brain is a little idea soup. A delicious soup, because your ideas should be delicious. Not that brains are delicious, because that’s disgusting.

#1: It starts with reading

If you want to be an interesting person with anything to say, you better be reading. If you don’t like reading, at least be consuming media. Watch YouTube videos about interesting things. Subscribe to some different blogs in your Google Reader. Subscribe to a real life magazine. Made of paper. Those are still fun to whip out at a coffee shop sometimes.

#2: Have conversations with your reading

Reading shouldn’t be a passive activity, it should be active. Are you saying “hell yes!” to everything you’re seeing on the page? Are you arguing? Does it remind you of  something that happened in your own life? Or a book you read? Or a movie you saw? Or an anecdote you once heard? Good, grab a piece of paper and jot down those random thoughts that are coming to your brain, with the name of the book/article/chapter you are reading at the top.

#3: Make connections

One of the cornerstones of creativity is making connections between two or more things that seem unrelated.

The most amazing thing is that as you start to get into a creative groove, this will become astoundingly easy. Sometimes I feel like the creative gods are conspiring to make things connect for me, I kid you not.

For instance, yesterday I sat down to write a post I had been marinating on for some time about what I call the happiness hoax. I was a few bullet-points into my brainstorming, when I realized I was crashing, hard. I hadn’t really eaten lunch (I had been racing around all afternoon) and in about three hours I was going to an insanely challenging yoga class, so I realized I better stop and eat something right away while I still had time to digest before class.

So I went next door to get some lunch, and decided to catch up on my Google Reader while I ate (writing and eating is far too much multi-tasking for me). Right then a new post by one of my all-time favorite bloggers, Penelope Trunk (who I interviewed for the Blogging Fearlessly interview series – it will be posted in a few weeks) popped up. It was a phenomenal post arguing against divorce. It filled me with all sorts of emotions – first of all I sent it to my boyfriend, Chase, who also loved it. Then I read the comments, which were filled with heated emotional debates, praises, and criticisms for Penelope. I wanted to comment back to all those comments. I wanted to send the post to my friends and my parents. I had more thoughts on it that I wanted to add. This is the sort of emotion/feeling/reaction that you, as a writer and blogger, as a person in society contributing to the conversation, want to capitalize on.

The connections gods weighed in, and I realized that her theory on divorce fit in beautifully with my happiness hoax theory. I realized that I needed to get a little more controversial, like Penelope. I wanted to share her argument and add to it all at once. So that’s what I did, and the post Divorce and the Great Happiness Hoax was posted a few hours later.

#4: Let it flow baby, let it flow

Once I was filled up with ideas, the article had me revved up, and I had the happiness hoax ideas in my brain (you want something concrete and unique to add to the discussion), the post flew out in about 2 hours (not a long time in blog land!).

I was so pumped from Penelope’s words, the energy of her critics, my own ideas, and my happiness hoax theory that I literally couldn’t keep it in. I wrote for about an hour, then spent another hour turning that mumble jumble into something comprehensible.

 

The moral?

Writer’s block is a myth. You don’t have writer’s block, you  have ideas block. Inspiration block. Stop thinking of it as writing – writing is just your tool, a physical, tangible form of speaking. What you are becoming isn’t a writer, it’s a critic. It’s a philosopher. It’s a gossip. It’s a reader. It’s a student. And you’re taking all of these new sides of you, and once they’re ripe you’re putting them on a piece of paper (or a blank word document) so that you can be a part of the conversation.

Pretty cool, huh?

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