Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How to Banish Writers' Block from your Life

An empty page can be one of the most attractive places to be- a new world, where you can express all those longings that have been keeping you awake. An opportunity to
share, connect with and challenge myriads that will be fortunate to read your carefully crafted words. You become a friend, a foe or even a wise guy.

An empty page can also be the most terrifying place to be. It can be a monster that only you can slay. You are all alone, and it is asking you to prove yourself. ‘So, you call yourself a writer,huh?’ It taunts and mocks you. Do you wait until tomorrow or do you just move on, hopeful and courageous that the words (mightier than the sword) will come?

Believe me, you are not alone. Writing can be tough. Because you are actually putting yourself out there-for plaques or stones! You are bold enough to say; here is my story or I know a few things about ‘X’.It is an act of faith and love.

The truth is there are a million and one things to write about. Are we using writers’ block as an excuse to procrastinate? Are we using our quest for perfection as a subterfuge for not sitting down and writing that article, e-book or story that you know deep inside your heart will enrich myriads? Well, only you can really say. My desire in this article is to share a few strategies that will exterminate the monster from your life.

I think the first secret for banishing writers’ block has been hinted at above; Forget perfection. You are not perfect, your writing will never be. I was privileged to read one of Goethe’s biographies, and I learnt he was always rewriting his works, even the published ones! Everything can always be improved, but there is a point where you just have to publish (unless you deliberately want it discovered after you die, not a great strategy, if you ask me).Put in your best and leave the rest. This is also a wonderful strategy for keeping critics alive. How would critics earn a living if your writing were perfect (what would their wives and children live on?)

You also need to forget the myth of originality (and believe me this idea is not original).Don't inflict pain on yourself by starring at an empty page/screen for hours, unless you are a masochist. Do some research. You are not the first person writing about the subject, believe me. Research will deepen your knowledge and it will enrich your writing. The strangest part is that while reading other people’s writings, ‘original’ thoughts will start dropping into your humble, fertile, and focused mind.

The third strategy may sound new-agey (but don’t go snoring on me).It is really something we all know. What is it? It is called the law of attraction. Yes, you attract. If you keep your mind concentrated for a long time on a subject or theme, similar ideas will start coming into your mind. This is better done after you have done your research. You will be surprised at how effective this simple strategy is. In fact, I am using it as I write this. It will be helpful to carry a small notebook with you, because these ideas will come anytime they like, and they will come often, that I can assure you.

Get out of the box. You are encouraged to think outside the box. Believe me this is right. What if you are living in it? Most of us have rigid, set conventional patterns of living and world-views. We are closed; we have a predictable, boring vocabulary. We repeat other people instead of thinking for ourselves. Get out of the box, examine your thinking. Leave your comfort zones. Read something on Genetics. Read History. Make connections between ostensibly disparate disciplines. Ecology and social media, for example. You are a human being, not a money-making machine. These other worlds will make life more enjoyable, they will stimulate your creativity while deepening your knowledge base…and that will positively impact your offerings.

We can go on and on (we are not suffering from writers’ block, right?).But, you probably have other things to do. The last strategies I will suggest are discipline and structure. I think they are related. One of my most productive time as a writer was when I told myself I have to write every day-no matter what. It requires discipline, and it is about structure. Do you write first thing in the morning or last thing at night? Over time you will experience a relationship between quantity and quality. You writing will get better because you are writing more. And then the empty page will no longer be a scary place. It will become a fun place to be-a domain where you call the shots. A place where you literally write the script.

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