Thursday, April 12, 2012

You Have To Start Somewhere

Writer's block.  What a horrible expression.  So personally panicky.  So punishing for those of us in the messaging field.  Why do writers get to be the exclusive victims of a "block," anyway?  Do we speak of  painter's block,  professor's block, civil engineer's block, baseball player's block?  Nope.  Derek Jeter may be having a slump, a dry spell, or a hitless streak -- but we never say he has a full-fledged block.  That dubious privilege, my fellow communicator, is bequeathed by society to us alone.

As a state of being, a block sounds so final.  So solid.  And so unsavory.  Drains get blocked by, um, bad stuff (ugh!).  Lanes on the interstate get blocked by more bad stuff, such as jack-knifed tractor trailers spilling toxic waste.  When that nimble quarterback gets blocked, it's  really bad -- those linemen are as massive and immutable as Stonehenge pylons.  (The pylons pile on -- a disturbing play on words, there.)

Despite the chilling connotations, I'm convinced that the phenomenon of writer's block is mainly a hoax.  It's  a welcome wish-fulfillment for whiners, a self-propelled prop for procrastinators.  It's so tempting, like cutting school.  And it's just so universally available.  After all, every one of us faces the need  at one time or another to tell important information to our fellow man.  Some of us do heavy word-lifting  every day, as screenwriters, content developers, news reporters, commentators,or authors.  Most of us only need to crank out the occasional blurb, memo, or email to the boss.  But whenever or however a writing task may pop up, the urge to freeze up is never far behind.

Facing a blank screen, and knowing we need to put text on it, is enough to make most of us wish we were out on the interstate in that Hazmat suit  instead, mopping up puddles of strontium 90.

Well, for all of us staring at a blank screen, good news.  I started this blog site as an antidote to writer's block.   My goal is to stockpile an entertaining and helpful series of tips, tools and commentary to help us whip out copy with confidence.  And not just any copy.  Amazing, effective, remarkable messaging.  This blog is going to be the plunger for the clogged drain of our cumulative communication processes. Visualize it, people!  In the future, whenever we feel the breath of that looming linebacker on our neck, we'll simply tab over to Remarkable Messaging and out-maneuver that writer's block with this writer's blog.  And the crowd -- our readers -- will roar with victory! 

So if a writing project currently has you paralyzed, here are my first three tips:

 1.  Start Anywhere.  When your creativity hits a snag, don't worry about making a detailed outline, or formulating that clever first sentence, or crafting a brilliant theme.  Above all, don't wait until inspiration strikes.  Just begin putting text on that screen.  Toss disjointed phrases out into the open. Ask a question.  Describe that vivid scene in your head.  Write a haiku.  Draw a sketch, or make up a sketchy wordplay, like pylons and pile-ons. Remember this one thing: you've got to start somewhere to get somewhere.

2.  Relax.  Next time you're overwhelmed with the terror that comes with trying too hard, do this:  breathe deep, close your eyes, and find some kind of expression down in your soul.  Any kind.  Then, bring it up into the light of day, turn it into words, and go from there.  Be confident.  If you know what you need to say, you'll find a way to say it.

3.  Visit here.  Turn to this blog to turn that writer's block of yours into a block party. These posts will become your friends up and down the street, a cast of characters who'll help make your messages, not just readable, but remarkable. Come back often. Jump in the bouncy castle, make snow cones with the kids, and join the Electric Slide that's underway at the DJ table.  Amble along the block, checking out the scenery, saying hi to the neighbors, until you find the house you're looking for. Then, walk up to the porch and ring the bell.

See you back here soon!  -- Beth

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