Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Curing Blogger's Block

There comes a time in every writer's or blogger's life when The Block hits. This is when the mind empties of intelligent thought, inspiration all but disappears and the computer screen suddenly appears intimidating, and strangely vast. You can't imagine how you're going to fill it. This happens to everyone, even experienced writers. It's a common affliction.

A mentor once told me that whenever this happens, there is a guaranteed solution: Just go to your journals. (He said it in a Godfather accent, so I think he was referencing the classic line "Go to the mattresses".) What he meant was: Fight writer's block by using, and referring to, a library of personal journals. These can be notepads you keep lying around – by the bed, in the car, in your bag for long flights or rail commutes – or more substantial journals that you write in regularly. Whatever form they take, use them to jot down ideas, snippets of information, whimsical bits from the media, even funny characters and conversations you see or hear. When he said this, I realised I had a whole decade of journals to call upon; black notebooks of lists, ideas, insights and inspirations that I'd been scribbling for more than ten years. So I dragged them out and flicked through them again. It was like finding an aisle in a library you forgot existed; an aisle full of fabulous old books and beloved authors offering volumes of wisdom, whimsy and wit for the taking.

So now I have those black journals and notebooks on a shelf above my desk. Even if I don't refer to them, the very sight of them is enough to inspire me...

  1. The features sections of online newspapers and magazines, particularly The TelegraphThe Guardian, The New York Times (and its fantastic T magazine), the New Yorker, Vogue, UK Elle Decoration, and of course mini e-magazines such as Ivy and Piper and Matchbook magazine.
  2. Quirky, cute and intriguing books. Try publishers such as The Little Bookroom, Plum (Pan Macmillan's new imprint), Murdoch, Assouline, Rizzoli and Ryland, Peters & Small.
  3. Other blogs, although try to stay away from blatantly copying their content, which isn't nice. You can refer to their sites, or use their posts to inspire you to create a different one of your own, which should be significantly different. 
  4. Your own home. Every home, in my opinion, is interesting – as is every city / village / island / quartier / neighbourhood and district. Look around your own home and neighbourhood, and write about the things you see – be they people, shops, decorating, design aesthetic, colour palettes, landscapes, even just street scenes. We all love seeing how people live on the other side of the world. I'm never bored listening to other people's stories.

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