Brainstorming Solo — 1 easy trick for overcoming writer’s block

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writer's block, empty pages
Photo by Dana Marin on Unsplash

This isn’t normally something I’d share. But in the interest of helping others defeat the fiend known as “writer’s block,” I’ll go ahead.

I’ve been writing professionally in some capacity or other since 1996. Most of my experience is working for daily newspapers — and when you work for a daily newspaper, you don’t get to have writer’s block. You’re always on deadline.

You get writer’s block anyway, of course. But you have to push through it. Quickly.

So here’s one technique I’ve used repeatedly to keep pushing forward, even when my brain says “nope”.

When I was covering a journalism beat, I’d write down anything, everything, anyone that caught my attention or piqued my interest related to my beat.

For blogging, I just sit and write my stream of consciousness. It’s a way of getting basic ideas down on paper, without judgment, to see what sparks.┬áThen develop that spark.

How? I’ll get to that below.

First, here’s this morning’s stream of consciousness:

***

I have nothing to say today. Nothing, really, at all.

Except.

The “Harry Potter” series should always be read in order.

Mommy guilt strikes hardest when on Day 1 you struggle, struggle, struggle with your daughter and then on the morning of Day 2, she wakes up sick. I’d be feeling so much worse today, though, if I’d lost my patience with her yesterday.

I’m eternally grateful that my husband’s work understands family and is allowing him to work from home this morning to watch Sick Child 1 while I chaperone Child 3’s field trip.

writer's block, brainstorming
Field trip!

More people should have that option. That’s how the world should work.

My favorite Bible verse today is from Psalm 51: “Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.” That’s helping me get over the Mommy guilt.

Getting to chaperone my children’s school events is one of the best things about being a stay-at-home mom.

Seeing my children at school, when they don’t know I’m watching, is one of my favorite things about parenting.

writer's block, brainstorming
Bonus kid sighting!

At what age will my second daughter start to be bothered by perpetually being dressed in my oldest daughter’s hand-me-downs? So far, she just accepts that as reality and thinks nothing of it. Unless I’m fooling myself.

Financially speaking, it’d be wiser if my husband and I didn’t take a 10-year-anniversary trip this summer. We’re going to anyway.

We should make sure our wills are in order first. Morbid, but true.

Today is draft day. I miss my dad.

We do too much. But I also wonder if a simpler life is a better life, or if it’s just different. Should I be trying to do less, or is doing too much inherently part of who I am?

There’s a genius, and danger, is buying snacks that only I like.

Stuff, stuff and more stuff. We have too much stuff. Why is that? I hardly ever go shopping.

Some people are so wrapped up in seeing problems that they don’t see solutions. Entrepreneurs see opportunities in problems and seek out solutions.

I’m guessing that, on average, entrepreneurs are more confident than the typical person. It’s pretty ballsy to see a problem and think, “Yep, I can solve that.”

Speaking of problems: Weight loss would be easier if I had someone to prepare my meals and just hand me something yummy and nutritious a few times a day. The pantry should be under lock and key. I wonder who’s working to deliver high-quality healthy food to the masses of people who otherwise can’t afford personal food delivery? And what is their solution?

***

Most of those thoughts are just … random. Doesn’t mean they can’t make excellent blog posts.

The trick is to find the universal in the specific.

My daughter is sick today. That’s specific to me. But the guilt I’m feeling — about feeling frustrated with her yesterday, about leaving her here while I went to her sister’s field trip, about doubting whether she was telling the truth when she said this morning she wasn’t feeling well — that’s universal.

I miss my dad, who died four years ago, more on draft day because he and I used to watch it together. That’s specific to me. But that sense of loss, and that sense of cherishing special moments? Those things are universal.

Too much stuff? That describes half of America. The other half has too little. That, in and of itself, is a whole other problem.

I’ve been doing this exercise for close to 20 years, and it’s never failed to spark some idea — usually, five or six.

In fact, with a little thought, I could turn any of those random thoughts into a blog post that makes an actual point, something others can relate to. Including “Harry Potter.”

So, today, I woke up this morning feeling like I had nothing at all to write about.

Except, it turns out, I actually do.

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