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September 23, 2008

5 Ways to Chase Away Writers' Block

By Li Evans

Dealing with writer's block, out and out right sucks.  I don't think I'm alone, I'm sure many of you who are fellow bloggers have been here at least once, right?

You've probably notice the sparse writing here for the last two weeks.  While there are other writers here on SMG, I tend to be the constant here and the voice most heard.  Sometimes I feel like there's too much of "my voice", and it makes me feel like I need to step back.

The past two weeks, I come to the page to write a post and I just stop, blocked, waiting for the idea to pour into my fingers, trying to force it to magically appear here on the screen in front of me, yet, it doesn't.  It gets frustrating, completely and utterly frustrating.

So what's a person to do to stimulate the ideas, find enlightenment, or search our inspiration?   There's many suggested ways of dealing with writers block, but perhaps some of these suggestions I just feel they aren't for me.  For the past two weeks, I've been trying different things that pull me out of my regular elements, of day to day thinking to start to look at things from different angles.  I've been jotting down notes, making post-its and trying to keep those ideas fresh, so here's 5 of my better attempts that have generated some new creative ideas for me.

  1. Watch Your Parents or Grandparents Use the Internet
    Yeah, yeah - maybe we need a break from it to start with?  Maybe not, maybe what we need is a different perspective.  Sit and show your parents, aunts, uncles, or grandparents how to use the internet.  You, yourself will probably become amazed at what you take for granted as "knowledge".  You also might be inspired to find a particular angle to write about something.
  2. PA Ren Faire - Jester PlayerGo to a Ren Faire
    OK, probably not so far out of my own element, as August through October I'm at the PA Ren Faire for a lot of weekends.  I find it refreshes my creativeness.  Watching the "players" in character, never breaking, and seeing how it's all about the Renaissance period, and not my own time period gets my creative juices flowing.
  3. Take a Hike
    Literally!  Get out of your house, away from a computer and take a hike.  When I need to "recharge", I head to Hawk Mountain Bird SanctuaryThis is my own sanctuary.  Sitting on top of a mountain, the towns below looking so small and picturesque, the wind blowing, the sun shining tends to let my mind go drifting to things and places I normally don't during my hectic days of client calls and projects.  It also helps when you see a few bald eagles making their migration southward, too.
  4. Sign Up For Something New
    Last year, I signed up to be on a bowling league.  I also signed up for flight lessons.  The bowling lasted longer than the flight lessons (small planes/claustrophic don't mix well).  Bowling may sound corny, but I find that it gives me time away to look at things through others eyes.  I'm contemplating taking dance classes - ballroom, salsa, foxtrot, and no, Dancing with the Stars isn't on my TiVO list.  When you take yourself out of the norm, and place yourself into an entirely new situation, you cannot help but look at things differently - and it can inspire you.
  5. Help Out in Your Community
    Whether it's volunteering at the Library, putting up new garbage cans on the main street, volunteering to coach a girl's softball team, by giving of yourself, I feel it gives back tenfold.  You can always find an anecdote, a lesson to be taught, a cute story, a fun photo or even hilarious video that can be shared, or written about in a way that relates to your audience.

Have they helped me?  Well, we'll see, in the next couple of days, there should be a bit more blogging going on coming from my fingers.

How about you?  Have any suggestions for stimulating those creative juices?


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I'd actually been giving point number 1 a think for the past few weeks as well. If you're in the game all the time, you tend to just take what you do and what you know as common knowledge. For example, a musician friend of mine approached me with a photography and book layout design project. He was doing all of this in photoshop, which looked fine and dandy, but when I mentioned that the printer is probably going to require a vector line drawing of some type, his eyeballs almost fell out of his head, and I could see that "Um...what the heck are you talking about?" question forming. Bingo! And a new blog post is born.

Elders are a great choice, but I'd also branch that out into friends that do something completely different than you do. Talk to them and find out if they know what fstops on a camera are, or how to work with final cut pro (or any video editing software), for example. There's a treasure trove of ideas in your friends, just waiting to be found.

All really good advice, and I've done same or similar things too. Here's another idea: get a non-fiction book and imagine you're in history class or something. Read and take notes on a legal pad or whatever, jotting down questions, and tangential ideas; and before you know it you're writing feverishly. Often it leads you right back to the topic on which you're "supposed" be writing.

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