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Monday, March 6, 2006

Stop Blinking At Me

Two weeks ago, my sister, Sharon, asked me to write some posts on her blog for her while she's on holiday in Barbados. "Sure", I said. "No problem". (After all, how hard could it be? I write for a living).

Only thing was…I couldn't think of a thing to write about. So here I am. It's like two days before she leaves. Still nothing.

Nothing but the blinking cursor.

The silence from Sharon's end (but for the one strained email reminder she permitted herself) is deafening.

On my end? Garbled, panicked, incoherent thoughts: shootshootshootI'll never






But the assignment remains…

So here goes. Here are my very un-scientific techniques for overcoming writer's block.

The very first thing you do when you have writer's block is:

1. Write. You've heard that before, right? Probably rolled your eyes then, just like you're doing now. I mean, how cliché is that? But that is truly the only solution to the problem. Unless there are words on your screen, or on your page, there is nothing to edit, critique, love, revise, accidentally lose, or intentionally delete. So write. Write something. Write anything. All the stuff you wanted to say, but felt you couldn't because your spouse, boss, teacher, editor, mother, whoever, would disapprove. It really doesn't matter what you write at this stage, because this is for your eyes only. The aim is to GET SOMETHING ON THE PAGE.

2. Get inspired. By a change of scene…cool music…a stiff drink…good, old-fashioned desperation…all of the above…whatever works for you. For freelancers this last motivator (desperation) is particularly effective. You don't work, you don't get paid. Magically the words appear. It's that simple.

3. Read. Preferably something trashy and sensationalistic. National Enquirer (News of the World?) springs to mind. Anything to get the juices flowing—and give your eyes a break from the blinking cursor. Being confronted (or affronted) by crap makes your inner Shakespeare come to the fore. It's an ego thing. I mean, you know you can do better than that…and so you do.

4. Hydrate. Caffeine works best. Being buzzed always helps.

One final thought: Persevere, but keep it light. Play. Make it a game. Think of yourself as a 3-year-old batting at a piñata. Keep at it, and eventually the good stuff will come out.

My proof that it works? I just completed my first blog post.

© Lisa Downer 2006

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