Overcoming writer’s block may not be as painful as you think, so hear me out dear writer.
Remember the waxy, smelly goodness of Crayola crayons? Every time I inhale their aroma I hark back to my childhood in all its uninhibited creative glory.
When I watch my own children put crayon to paper it makes me feel relieved.
Relieved that they can just freely express whatever happens to be residing in their imaginations at that moment.
What would happen if you approached writing the same way? How might that crush the writer’s block that you’ve been using as an excuse for *not* writing, blogging, even copywriting as much as you could?
I’m not suggesting you draft your next blog post or web page in crayon. But pretty close. Let me explain.
When you sit down to your computer to write something, anything, be it a blog post, an article, the next chapter of an ebook or even an email to a prospective client, you pause. You stare at the screen in front of you and your brain responds in a trained, automatic fashion.
Like Pavlov’s dog drooling when it hears the clang of the bell, inversely, your creative juices literally stop flowing.
Your ability to say what’s on your mind seems to fall short, clenching up at the site of all that white space.
Writer’ block … it’s every writer’s dread. It’s every business writer’s bane. (It’s definitely every copywriter‘s worst fear.)
For somewhere along the way we’ve put down the crayon and picked up the pen that is now the keyboard which signals to us that we must accomplish something. We must achieve with our words.
We must move mountains. We must be great if not honest or just humbly useful in some way.
There is physicality to writing that I suggest we can leverage to our advantage.
When I get stuck as a writer I look away from the computer screen and instead look down at a notebook.
Raw and innocent with those faint blue lines reminiscent of grade 1 printing exercises. Its pages curling slightly at the corners, some stained from bottoms of coffee cups.
How I love my dirty little notebooks.
I’ve considered investing in the more expensive moleskin variety, but I fear this would elevate the status of my scrawls to something looming and expectant. Like my grade 12 English teacher.
Suddenly my unobtrusive, cheap office supply store notebook would morph into something with stature of its own.
Performance anxiety would set in as my hand would start and stop each time I reflected upon the ideas pouring forth from my mind to the page.
Instead, I write freely into my boring notebooks. Sentence fragments. Blog post titles. Client to-dos. The odd grocery list or phone number. Idea outlines for my next big thing.
It’s tragic how many people say they can’t write. Don’t want to write. Hate to write.
Is this because the almighty computer has become the creative temple for a (last?) generation of adults who learned how to express themselves creatively by way of putting pencil (and crayon) to paper?
Is this because fingers on keys do not resonate with the centers in our brains that hunger for the physicality of picking up a pen and scratching out whatever comes to mind in a single, tangible moment?
The irony of this piece is that I adore my relationship with my computer. With the Internet. With twitterati.
With anything that allows me to connect my thoughts and ideas to others’ thoughts and ideas.
But nothing stirs the creative mind–for this Gen Xer at least–more than picking up a Bic and feeling it glide across the page of my tattered notebook.
With no one watching. No Publish button to squash my arrogance boldness. No need to wonder if I’m saying the “right” thing before I’ve typed a single word.
So if you’re feeling stuck, stifled and perhaps crushed by recurring writer’s block, put your computer to sleep for a few. Open up an old notebook. Pick up a pen–or a crayon if that’s what moves you.
Write what’s on your mind and in your heart.
Write until you’ve nothing left to say.
Then close your notebook and go back to whatever it was you were doing before you so recklessly revisited your once lost ability to express yourself on paper.
Don’t do a thing with what you just wrote. Just let it live there, quietly, in your notebook.
When you’re ready to transfer your words to the screen, you’ll know. And you’ll be surprised at how enjoyable–and yes, productive–writing can be. Again.