What if you could snap your fingers and have the perfect words march onto your blank page?
Jump into a chalk drawing to discover where to take your story next? Or dance across rooftops to breathe life into your prose?
Sounds practically perfect, right?
With Mary Poppins by your side, all this is possible. Except…
She’s a nanny who works with young children, not blocked writers.
If you’re a 7-year old with a no-nonsense, out-of-touch banker for a father, Mary should land at your doorstep any day now. If not, all is not lost.
We can pull tricks from her carpet bag to ditch writer’s block, in a most delightful way.
Cool. Between this post and part 2, I’ll show you 10 of them.
Follow me. I know the way…
1. Size up the Block
First we’ll grab Mary’s tape measure and size you up. Would her measurement reveal…
“Pens colorful pieces, but waits ’til the last minute to begin.”
“Talented writer who doesn’t believe this to be true.”
“Finishes work but in an excruciatingly slow way.”
Yep, that’s me. Thanks, Mary.
What would it say about you?
Once you know your measurement, go ahead and run with ONE of the following tricks.
2. Play a round of “Well begins is half done” to fill the blank page
Mary’s classic tidy-up-the-nursery game would be perfect for writing projects, except…
You can’t snap your fingers and have the words march on the page. Or have them lift in the air, re-arrange themselves and land in perfect order. I’ve tried.
But you can make the job a game…
OBJECT: Let your inner child, a.k.a. creative self, write a messy first draft. (Psst. It’s okay. No one will see it.)
HOW TO PLAY:
1. Pick a word count you can hit in 15 to 30 minutes.
If the thought of penning words for your novel, blog or thesis makes your stomach churn, use the time to explore why.
2. Close the door to all distractions (phone, internet, family, tv, pets).
3. Set your timer.
No editing. No judgment. No pausing.
Doodle or jot down fleeting thoughts on a scratch piece of paper if you have to.
Spit spot! Just. Keep. Moving.
5. Stop when the timer rings or you reach your word count.
Or ignore both if you’re on a roll.
3. Unlock ideas by jumping into a chalk drawing
At a loss for ideas or where to take your story next?
Let’s try Mary’s favorite daytime activity – an outing to the park. Once there, you’ll run into her dear friend, Bert, a sidewalk artist. He’ll ask you to pick a drawing to jump into, so you can take your writing to places you’ve never dreamed of.
I know. I know. Maybe not.
You’re right. It’s unlikely Bert will be working at your park.
But, a change of scenery can help you uncover a world of ideas.
Where can you free your mind to wander?
Coffee shop? Art store? Museum? Playground? Pub? Your garden?
Wherever that is, head there.
Be sure to bring a voice recorder or pen and paper to capture your ideas.
No time for a commute? No worries. Stand up and follow Bert’s lead…
“You think. You wink. You do a double blink. You close your eyes and jump.”
Did it work?
If not, try this more conventional method…jump online.
- Browse Amazon book reviews in your niche for blog post ideas.
- Take a spin around a short podcast or Youtube video by your favorite content creator.
Set a time limit so your online outing doesn’t wash away your entire writing session.
4. Leap off the merry-go-round known as perfectionism
Do you find yourself circling back to the same word, sentence, paragraph or page? Word-smithing it to perfection before moving on? Me, too!
Round and round we go in painfully slow loops.
Mary would have us leap off this merry-go-round to nowhere and join the race. Here’s how…
- Copy and paste your last sentence or paragraph into a new document.
- Write. Resist the urge to look back. You can’t win the race if you do.
- If you find yourself stuck on a new merry-go-round, copy and paste again.
- Merge your work into a single master document.
Super simple, right?
Pick one trick to try. If I were reading this for the first time, I’d run with #4. Remember my measurement? “Gets her projects done, but in an excruciatingly slow way.” This one addresses that block. Yep, I need the others too. But I’m human, so would quit or never start if I tried to apply them all at once.
5. Polish your prose with this phrase
Ah, the editing process. Painful for many of us. Finding the perfect way to package your words can leave you tongue-tied.
You could circle back to tip #3 for another outing. Or play with fun words.
Mary never seems to be at a loss for words. When she is, she leans on a word that sounds atrocious but makes her sound precocious. Know what it is?
You got it. All together now.
No, we can’t throw that into our project. Although I just did;-)
But…we can consult a thesaurus for the perfect word.
Or lean on Google. I often plug the ugly phrase into a Google search, grab better wording and make it my own. (Please, don’t plagiarize!)
Or we can turn to a style guide or grammar blog.
I also relieve the stress of finding the perfect word by looking over the list of fun words I made.
My favorite word? Delicious. I also love magic, Galifianakis (thanks Zach for having an awesome last name) and bonkers. Anytime I come across a word that makes me smile, I add it to the list. This list stops me from taking grammar and word choice too seriously, before my final spin around my copy.
What words make you smile?
We’ve reached the end of part 1.
Which one of the 5 tricks from Mary’s carpet bag will you run with? How can you make it your own? I double-dog dare you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Need more options? Pop over to part 2 for five more.
An online outing to Pixabay, a gallery of block-ditching royalty-free images
A playbook and game that challenges you to self-coach yourself through your writing blocks.