All creative people get stuck now and then. Writers have writer’s block. Painters have painter’s block. Even marketers and CEOs will admit that they sometimes “haven’t got a clue.” And if your financial future depends on generating ideas, this can be downright scary.
I used to have mornings when I’d sit down to write an ETR essay and realize that I had nothing to say. The thought that half a million people were waiting to hear something from me made it worse. My instinct was to close my laptop and come back to it another day.
But I can’t do that. So I’ve developed a routine, of sorts, that might work for you.
First, I try to stimulate my mind by reading bits and pieces of stuff I’ve clipped and saved. Sometimes, I simply read quotations. If that doesn’t work, I get up and walk around my writing studio or do some calisthenics.
And if that doesn’t work, I sit my butt back down and start to write – even if the writing feels lame.
What I get for my persistence is not usually great stuff. But it’s something. So then I take another break and think about what I’m doing. I ask two questions:
- What is the core idea I’m trying to express?
- What is the best way to introduce that idea? With a story? A fact? A statement?
This almost always helps me zero in on something worth writing.
The process of pushing through becomes a habit that gets more effective with each passing day. I can’t remember the last time I was blocked completely.
Try it. Let me know if this works for you.[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]