You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. ~ Jack London
We all face writer’s block at some point. That awful moment when you’re staring at a blank page, and it seems to loom over you. Even the most experienced writers face this challenge from time to time. Today, I want to share with you my three tips for preventing writer’s block, or to beat it down the next time it rears its ugly head.
Tip #1 – Feed your imagination.
Our minds are like computers. Good input equals good output.
Creativity requires a lot of knowledge and inspiration. My number one source of mental fuel is reading. I’m a huge fan of fantasy and sci-fi—and not just because these genres are super cool.
These kind of stories take us outside our own personal existence, which helps the mind grow and expand. That’s why travel broadens the mind, because it takes us beyond our normal confines.
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. ~ Dr. Seuss
Tip #2 – Put your RAS to work.
What is the RAS? It’s the Reticular Activating System, located at the top of the spinal cord.
All of the senses except smell must pass through the RAS before they can reach the brain. We can compare it to a filter, or a “night club bouncer.”
We’re exposed to millions of stimuli every minute. If the RAS didn’t filter out 99% of it, we’d go crazy. The brain just can’t process that amount of information all at once.
The downside is that when we need, say to solve a problem, very often the answer is right in front of us, but we literally cannot see it.
For example. Ever notice when you buy a car, or consider buying a car, suddenly it seems like a bunch of other people decided to buy that same car? You know those cars have been on the road the whole time, but you didn’t notice them before. Your reticular activating system filtered them out.
So, how do you get your RAS to work for you?
It’s as simple as telling it what you want.
Let’s say you’re giving a speech. Decide what you want to talk about as far in advance as possible. Then write it down on a blank sheet of paper.
As you go through your week, you’ll notice all kinds of ideas in the world around you. Things people say, things you see, books, websites, et cetera. Write these ideas down on your sheet of paper. When it’s time to sit down and plan your speech, you’ll already have most of what you need.
Tip #3 – Keep a dream journal.
Keep a journal by your bed and write down your dreams every morning when you wake up. Most of your dreams will seem like they’re unrelated to your task. But when you allow your subconscious mind to express itself, you’ll begin to learn how to tap into an endless supply of creativity.
Psychologists and philosophers say that the mind is possibly quicker than the physical universe. Thought is faster than the speed of light.
The human mind is the last great unexplored continent on earth. It contains riches beyond our wildest dreams. It will return anything we want to plant in it. ~ Earl Nightingale
Now, we all know people who make us question this claim. But the more I learn about my own mind, the more I believe that Earl is right.
Record your dreams every morning, or when you wake up during the night. It takes five minutes.
Use good, old-fashioned pen and paper. There’s something about writing things down that makes a stronger impression on the mind. This one is particularly difficult for me. I used to be a prolific notebook filler. Now, I typically resort to Evernote or Notepad, but writing on paper works the best for this exercise.
Kill some trees. If you feel bad about it, or you start to have nightmares about the carnage, just calculate the number of trees you killed, then go plant that number to replace them.
Summing it up.
- Feed your imagination.
- Put your RAS to work.
- Journal your dreams.
These methods help me punch through writer’s block. Whether or not you consider yourself to be a “writer,” everyone has to deal with this problem at some point in their lives. I hope these tips help you.