Overcoming Bloggers Block

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Here I am, sunday afternoon, trying very hard to produce some posts for the blogs I created, to fulfill my self-made promise to blog something meaningful  every other day.

Of course, my mind went blank. Nothing regarding Java, or OOD (for the tech blog), no history from my role-playing past (for the RPG blog), nothing in general for this blog. I was suffering what is called "Writer's Block" or "Blank Page Syndrome"

This is very ironic, given that I'm currently teaching a course on creative thinking and idea generation.

That thought was my salvation.
As soon as that thought came, my mind clicked. I remembered Jerry Weinberg (of Secrets of Consulting fame) saying "Writter's block is an idiotic idea".

So, if I'm not blocked, why is that I cannot write a blog post? For the very same reason that a lot of people cannot generate ideas: I was trying to find the "right post" at the first pass. Trying to model something "perfect" at the first run. This is one of the main killers of creativity.

So, how did I end up with a blog post? I used one of the techniques I teach. It's a very simple one, and it's used to warm up the brain and trigger the unconscious process of linking facts: Write up a phrase. Any phrase. Then write whatever comes to your mind. Continue doing this until you have enough material to refine a blog post. By that time, your brain will be on fire, and you should be 'on the flow'.

In general, this technique can be used to generate any kind of written material. Just follow these steps:
  • Write up a phrase. Any phrase.
  • Write some other phrases (ideas) related to the original one, as many as your brain gives you. Even those that you think are 'idiotic', 'bad' or 'not related'.
  • Try to link these ideas, and to build some paragraphs with them. As you go, write down if you need to find a reference, or to validate a fact, or to insert a link, but don't stop the flow just yet.
  • When you think you're "done", take another pass to find that missing reference or link, and validate the facts. If another idea pops up, write it down.
  • Repeat the above steps until either you run out of ideas, or you feel satisfied with the length of the writing.
  • Read the whole writing again. Refine it until you feel satisfied with the result.
My first phrase? "I cannot produce a blog post for today". The end result, you're reading it.

Happy Blogging

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