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5 Ridiculously Easy Ways To Unblock Writer’s Block

5 Ridiculously Easy Ways To Unblock Writer’s Block

    You would say that after more than 500 articles it’s highly unlikely to hit the writer’s block. Well, think again. Yes, I’ve written more than 500 articles so far in my career, but still, there are times when that white, empty computer screen makes me wanna scream. When all the happy and green pastures where my ideas used to fly from tree to tree, light and playful, are nothing but an empty desert. When words are turning their back on me, leaving behind a dumb smile and foggy eyes. Yes, even after 500 articles, this ugly beast can still makes you shiver.

    If you’re not paying close attention to it, that is. Because, and that’s the good news, you can (and you should) fight it with very good chances to win, each and every time you see those empty spaces around you. You cannot make it disappear, it will still be there, but, if you’re carefully planning your moves, if you do a little bit of trickery, mixed with some mild discipline, all combined into just 5 simple principles, well, you can say an honest and vigorous “bye-bye” to the most hated enemy of the professional blogger (or writer, let’s not start a debate here, ok?).

    1. Don’t Let It Happen

    They say is far more easily to prevent an illness than to cure it. And they say that for a good reason. Don’t let your ideas well go dry. Keep close some capturing device and, each and every time you see an idea (I don’t think we’re having ideas, we’re more like seeing them) stop whatever you’re doing and write that thing down. Use a notebook, a notepad on your smartphone, an audio recorder, or whatever works for you.

    There aren’t really any rules for this capturing device, as long as you’re going to actually use what you’re writing down. I’m kinda of techie guy so I use my own iPhone app (iAdd) for this, but you can use whatever you like. Pen and paper is great. Sending yourself emails with your Blackberry is also good. Whatever works for you.

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    I have an incredible feeling of relief every time when, some solitary morning, almost sensing the writer’s block jumping at me, immobilizing my hands on the keyboard with a short and unbeatable: “there’s nothing more to write about, Dragos!”, I just fire up my app and randomly pick one idea out of the dozens already saved there.

    2. Write For Somebody Else

    Believe it or not, we’re wired to act and perform in a group. We’re social animals, hence, our constant need for support and encouragement. If you keep writing only for your own projects (being it blogs, or books or columns), at some point, something will stop inside. You’re gonna run out of power.

    This “stop” may come in the form of a writer’s block. Sometimes it may come in the form of a depression, but we’re not going there now. If it’s about a writer’s block, though, try to do this: write for somebody else. If you’re a journalist, do a favor to a colleague. If you’re a blogger, do a guest post. A genuine guest post, like giving the best of you for somebody else.

    Magically, the words will start flowing. The inspiration will hit you like a Newtonian apple and fantabulous images and ideas will literally explode from your brain. Deep down, you’re seeking a form of validation. Sometimes, all you have to do in order to unblock your path is to first unblock somebody else path.

    3. Free Form Writing

    A very common source of writer’s block is the constant need of a “meaning”, or a “form”, or some sort of constraint, like the size (1000 words by noon, ok?). This can be really pressuring. My articles are usually between 1000  and 1200 words. But sometimes I can express everything I need to in just 30 words.

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    When I hit this wall, I usually put that specific project aside and start doing what I call free form writing. No constraints. No limits. Just writing whatever comes into my mind. I never keep those free form writing sessions. Because, of course, everything is so dull, or boring or ridiculous, that I just couldn’t stand reading it.

    But the effect of this short exercise is amazing. After all the small pieces of garbage from all the corners of my conscious mind have been dumped into a disposable recipient, something that I know I will throw away immediately after, my normal, organized mind takes the lead. Paragraphs are forming naturally, structure is created on the fly and my project is finished in minutes.

    4. From A To B In 5 Semantic Fractures

    That’s a serious one. Although I used to play this game when I was a child, I only use it now when none of the above can be applied (namely, when I have nothing jotted down in my app, when I can’t write for somebody else or when no free form writing will produce the expected results).

    I pick a random word (usually by opening a book at a random page), write it down, then pick another one using the same technique. Then I try to create 5 semantic structures (or fractures) from the word A to the word B. Going from “skyscraper” to “cabbage” may look like this: skyscraper – sky – birds – planes – wings – leaves – cabbage.

    You can do this even when you’re not having the writer’s block. It will work like a sort of “brain muscle fitness”, forcing you to make unexpected connections. And unexpected connections will always lead to unexpected ideas, strategies or approaches. Unexpected is good. Go for it.

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    5. Silence Your Mind

    If you could turn your mind into some kind of a radio, I’m sure you’d be completely blown away by the number of stations you’re listening simultaneously. Even if you “think” you’re not thinking at anything, you’re in fact thinking at something. Yup, you guessed it, this last tip is in fact just a form of meditation. I call it “silence your mind” because it makes me look smart, but in fact, is just a form of meditation.

    Sometimes, our focus is hijacked by all these thousands of thoughts we’re continuously fostering, modifying, adjusting and we simply don’t have any focus left to finish that bloody page. The only solution here is to silence your mind. But don’t do it with violence, it will only make the noise higher.

    Gently follow each and every thought until it’s no longer there, witness your visions and memories, look at the show put up on your brain scene by somebody you think it was you. If you do this long enough, if you resist the temptation to unfold all those stubs into independent scenes, the characters will eventually turn to you with obedience. You will be able to commend them. And only then you will be able to make them stop that gibberish you thought it’s yourself.

    ***

    Writer’s block is more often than not just another form of life imbalance. Those tips here are not really just for writers. Or, if you really understand that we’re really the authors of our own lives, then, yes, we’re all writers of some sort.

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    So, plan carefully, don’t be selfish, empty your mind from time to time, play with your words and don’t take yourself too seriously.

    You’ll be amazed how many people will start to enjoy your book of life.

     

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    Last Updated on July 16, 2019

    6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

    6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

    Have you ever thought of yourself as a problem solver? I’m guessing not. But in reality, we are constantly solving problems. And the better our problem solving skills are, the easier our lives are.

    Problems arise in many shapes and forms. They can be mundane, everyday problems, or larger more complex problems:

    What to have for dinner tonight?

    Which route to take to work?

    How to fix a project that’s running behind schedule?

    How to change from an uninspiring job to a career you’re really passionate about?

    Every day, you’ll be faced with at least one problem to solve. But it gets easier when you realize that problems are simply choices. There’s nothing ‘scary’ about them other than having to make a decision.

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    No matter what job you’re in, where you live, who your partner is, how many friends you have, you will be judged on your ability to solve problems. Because problems equal hassles for everyone concerned. And people don’t like hassle. So the more problems you can solve, the less hassle all-round, the happier people are with you. Everyone wins.

    Why Are Problem Solving Skills Important?

    Problem is something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with. It can be a task, a situation, or even a person. Problem solving involves methods and skills to find the best solutions to problems.

    Problem solving is important because we all have decisions to make, and questions to answer in our lives. Amazing people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., are all great problems solvers. Good parents, teachers, doctors and waiters all have to be good at solving different sort of problems as well.

    Problem solving skills are for our everyday lives.

    How to Enhance Problem Solving Skills

    Most people believe that you have to be very intelligent in order to be a good problem solver, but that’s not true.

    You don’t have to be super smart to be a problem solver, you just need practice.

    When you understand the different steps to solve a problem, you’ll be able to come up with great solutions.

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    1. Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem

    Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem.[1] This is because when you focus on the problem, you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity,’ which in turn activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions.

    I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem,’ instead, try to remain calm. It helps to first, acknowledge the problem; and then, move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be, rather than lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

    2. Adapt 5 Whys to Clearly Define the Problem

    5 Whys is a problem solving framework to help you get to the root of a problem.

    By repeatedly asking the question “why” on a problem, you can dig into the root cause of a problem, and that’s how you can find the best solution to tackle the root problem once and for all. And it can go deeper than just asking why for five times.

    For example:

    If the problem is “always late to work”…

    • Why am I late to work?
      I always click the snooze button and just want to go on sleeping.
    • Why do I want to go on sleeping?
      I feel so tired in the morning.
    • Why do I feel tired in the morning?
      I slept late the night before, that’s why.
    • Why did I sleep late?
      I wasn’t sleepy after drinking coffee, and I just kept scrolling my Facebook feed and somehow I couldn’t stop.
    • Why did I drink coffee?
      Because I was too sleepy at work in the afternoon, not having enough sleep the night before.

    So there you see, if you didn’t try to dig out the root of the problem, you may just set a few more alarms and have it beep every five minutes in the morning. But in fact, the problem you need to solve is to quit Facebook surfing endlessly at night so you’ll feel more energetic in the day time, and you won’t even need coffee.

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    3. Simplify Things

    As human beings, we have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be! Try simplifying your problem by generalizing it.

    Remove all the details and go back to the basics. Try looking for a really easy, obvious solution – you might be surprised at the results! And we all know that it’s often the simple things that are the most productive.

    4. List out as Many Solutions as Possible

    Try to come up with ‘ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ – even if they seem ridiculous at first. It’s important you keep an open mind to boost creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions.

    Coming from 10 years in the corporate advertising industry, it is drummed into you that ‘No idea is a bad idea’ and this aids creative thinking in brainstorms and other problem-solving techniques.

    Whatever you do, do not ridicule yourself for coming up with ‘stupid solutions’ as it’s often the crazy ideas that trigger other more viable solutions.

    5. Think Laterally

    Change the ‘direction’ of your thoughts by thinking laterally. Pay attention to the saying,

    ‘You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging it deeper.”

    Try to change your approach and look at things in a new way. You can try flipping your objective around and looking for a solution that is the polar opposite!

    Even if it feels silly, a fresh and unique approach usually stimulates a fresh solution.

    6. Use Language That Creates Possibility

    Lead your thinking with phrases like ‘what if…’ and ‘imagine if…’ These terms open up our brains to think creatively and encourage solutions.

    Avoid closed, negative language such as ‘I don’t think…’ or ‘But this is not right…’.

    The Bottom Line

    There’s nothing scary about a problem when you start to adapt my advice.

    Try not to view problems as ‘scary’ things! If you think about what a problem really is, it’s really just feedback on your current situation.

    Every problem is telling you that something is not currently working and that you need to find a new way around it.

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    So try to approach problems neutrally – without any judgment. Practice focusing on defining a problem, keep calm and not to make things too complicated.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Planet of Success: Problem vs Solution Focused Thinking

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