Others have added further comment, and even given suggestions of which topics have not yet been picked up.
Now, one piece of advice that has not been mentioned so far is – when you want to find your voice, you have to be able to start writing.
That may come easy for you, or you may end up staring at the empty computer screen, not clear about what to write.
A year ago, I always had that problem. It would come and go – some days were fine, while at other days, I felt horrible uncreative. The page stayed empty.
Until I started to write.
Back in the beginning of 2014, I decided to run a blog myself.
But as I was thinking about how cool it would be to make a living off writing, I got also worried. Would I have something to say? Would I be able to withstand the everyday grind, when everything becomes a slog?
On the one hand, I certainly didn’t want to embarrass myself: start a blog and then run out of steam a couple of weeks later.
On the other hand, from 20 years of experience as a scientist, I knew: the best way to get results is to put in persistent work.
Therefore, I decided to write every day for at least half a year. If I would keep up with that schedule, I knew I had the “staying power” to publish my own blog.
At the same time, I read a book by Julia Cameron: “The Artist’s Way“. Cameron describes how writing 3 pages or 750+ words at the beginning of each day can clear your mind and get you started well into the morning. There is even a website called 750words.com, where you can write online. As added bonus, the program analyzes keywords in your texts to show you if your writing reflects an intro- or extrovert mood, about which most important topic you wrote most etc. – and it gives you badges for writing several days in a row, or finishing within 20 minutes etc. Additional motivators to keep writing.
So I started writing. Almost every day. And with a few interruptions, after 10 months, I have written more than 350,000 words, which amounts to an average of 1,250 words per day.
I also thought: if I write 3 pages per day, no way will I not have an interesting idea 3 years from now.
To me, writing has evolved into the proper start into the day. It’s almost like a personal form of motivation.
And sometime in summer 2014 I realized:
There was no Writer’s Block anymore.
So what helped me get there?
#1 Write everyday.
Best in the morning. Or whatever time works best for you. Write about anything. Whatever is on your mind. Over time, you train yourself to come up with something on the fly.
Here is an example. I just grabbed a random keyword out of thin air. “Ducks”. Then I started writing, and within 5 minutes, came up with this little blurb below.
Ducks. When was the last time I saw them? They may be able to fly away, and maybe they really do. We had this book “Niels Holgersson” when I grew up about a boy who learns the language of geese and flies with them. Reminds me back when my mom used to read me stories aloud before going to bed. I got very spoiled, and when she then switched over to play good night songs on her violin I would walk over and tell her to stop it so I could sleep… not very tactful. But goes to show how much of a loving childhood I had. Will I be able to provide for my parents when they are old?
Funny to think about this, because I still almost remember the smells when I came back in the fall from our apartment to the guest family’s house where I was staying. I would play on my computer during the day (I was in 8th grade), then bike home through the fog. These misty evenings, when one seemed to be strangely alone and alive at the same time. Then I arrived to a house when everything was dark, and there was light and a dinner waiting for me. It was pure magic. And when I then listened to Schubert’s Unfinished symphony and Dvorak’s cello concerto once I was home… old tape recorders. Does anyone still remember them? It was like heaven. Nobody can take these memories away from me. And maybe that IS heaven – the certainty that the music that transcends your life = stays with you. We have all we can enjoy on this earth. Heaven must be an allegory on that.
I got from “ducks” via childhood memories to Heaven. The initial keyword was just a starter of my thought flow.
#2 Start simple.
Decide on a simple topic to start. The above keyword was “Ducks”. That may sound completely irrelevant to your text, yet it has some interesting advantages. First of all, our mind can connect a lot of items. See how I made the connection in the above example? Ducks -> good night stories -> atmosphere -> biking in the fall.
Now, if I had focused on “biking in the fall” from the start, I guarantee it would have taken me longer to get started. I would have focused on the right words to describe the fall atmosphere and tried to access my emotional experiences through logical terms, born out of my conscious mind. But as detailed in the book Incognito, most of our experiences are anchored in our subconscious mind, and are therefore not readily accessible.
Therefore: if I start with any keyword and just write down the next words my mind comes up with, I eventually get to my topic.
I am just not forcing it.
And if the initial keyword really only served as a crutch to get you going, I can edit it out before I publish my text. Though sometimes… these “crutches” can add spontaneity. I end up leaving them in.
#3 Don’t censor yourself. Don’t try to be perfect.
This is another reason why I prefer writing in the morning. My mind is fresh, and I am by myself.
My morning pages are like a meditation. Anything that comes to my mind is good enough to be written down. I don’t need to be ashamed for any thought I have. My focus is on the topics I want to write about, not if I got there via politically correct assumptions.
Or via trying to make it perfect. In all likelihood, you have to edit your text in any case before hitting “publish”, so you might as well make the first version “quick and dirty”. If you aim for perfection from the get go, there is a chance you get stuck – because sometimes no word is good enough to express what you want to tell the world.
On the other hand, by teaching myself to write and just run with whatever comes to my mind, I never run out of things to say anymore. Once you write daily for 3 months or so you develop trust in yourself. You know now that you can start with any topic and come up with something else to say.
You give yourself the chance to develop something on your own because you are not looking at the end product. Even during writing this text here, I am thinking “this is stupid“, “nobody cares” or “it’s so unoriginal, they will hate me“. But I have written it anyway, and now I find that I do not really need to edit out much, if anything at all.
If you just trust your subconscious mind, what comes out may sound dubious, but when you look at the complete piece, it often makes actual sense.
#4 Start in the middle or the end – or start a different chapter.
This is somewhat related to #2 above. Instead of deciding on a specific topic, you start your writing adventures in a different chapter in the book or brochure you are writing. Again, once you have started writing, the momentum carries you over and there is no turning back.
“Write or Die”
This program lets you type in a text, but after a specific time interval without any activity, the program paints your screen red or even deletes everything you have written so far. I have tried it out only briefly before I found 750words.com, but I think it’s definitely worth trying out.
In summary, I can say – consistent writing, starting with a simple topic and not censoring yourself is the best way to work on your writer’s block. Ditch perfection. Ditch thinking. Just DO, and DO it consistently.
Eliminating Writer’s Block is not a one-time big event and then you are “cured”. It is something that you actively work on, but if you do that consistently, and you are anything like me, you can be rid of Writer’s Block faster than you think.
Good luck out there!
Summary of Day 24
Below you will find
(a) a quick description how I fared on my main goals – losing body fat, working on my blog, installing good habits;
(b) my thoughts for the day;
(c) how the rest of the program went and whether there were any irregularities or other noteworthy points.
Losing body fat
Body fat down again: 22.2%.
Breakfast: Coffee, Eggs, Protein Shake.
Nothing for lunch, Burger with fries for dinner – today was my “cheat day“.
Today’s juice: Celery Parsley Lemonade. For more self-mad juicing recipes, check Juicing for Power. (*)
120 push-ups – proper form with numerous breaks.
120 squats – now again in one go. I think yesterday I squatted down much more because I was in a different room than normally. Different landmarks to orient my body positioning. If that makes any sense.
120 sit-ups – a bit out of shape, don’t know why, but finished them out as good as I could.
Working on my blog
I wrote this blog post here.
(a) Emotional Health: Met an old friend from high-school times. Always great to stay in touch, even over years.
(b) Spiritual Health: I continued the Happiness Habit. What was I grateful for?
1. Warm apartment.
2. Sunny, clear sky.
3. Moving forward in my project.
(c) Mental Health.
10 ways to have self-made lunch at work.
1. Prepare them at home and out them into tupper boxes, then reheat using the microwave.
2. Installing a hot plate and cooking.
3. Rent an RV and do your work and cooking inside.
4. Let a colleague do you a favor and cook for you.
5. Dress as a homeless person and take the food from the local homeless shelter.
6. Collect leftovers from seminars and reheat in microwave.
7. Switch profession and become a cook.
8. Work from home.
9. Hire a private chef.
10. Grow your own little vegetable garden.
Thoughts for the day
What did I do well?
Did 120 push-ups with numerous pauses, but finished out. Could not do the 120 sit-ups properly, but did them as good as I could and finished 120 out. Squats were properly done though.
What do I want to improve?
It still takes me too long to get my tasks done. I want to become more disciplined.
How will I improve?
Leave distractions off. Only use the computer:
(a) for noting down my daily fitness progress (via Excel sheet, not google docs);
(b) for taking photos
© for my daily goal list (but do a word file for my to-do lists at work and home);
In short, don’t use Internet browser in the morning except for posting my happiness habit on social media and my blog and google analytics.
30-Day of Discipline items
Here is a list and how I fared:
1. Eat three meals or less: ate two.
2. Get up between 5 and 7 am: got up at 7 am.
3. Cold shower: yes
4. No Porn and Masturbation: check
5. 100 push-ups/squats/sit-ups minimum: each 120.
6. Dress to impress, dress for success: check.
7. Make a to-do list: check
8. Stand tall and proud: check
9. No excuses/explanations/BS: check
10. Keep those ideas written down: check
11. My purpose: lab and blog. check.
To check the description of the “One Year of Discipline” challenge, click here.
To see yesterday’s post, click here.
To get back to the homepage, click here.
(*) I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.