“Is it the ideas that are blocked or the way you fulfil them? Check that your tools work for you.”
The above was one of the tips in my May #creativeblocks campaign on Twitter. It came from one of my Take Five guests, but I have subsequently had my own experience of this when writing blogs.
Every week, I would sit down at my laptop with a nice blank document in front of me, knowing the message I wanted to impart and a vague idea of how I wanted to write it. I would start typing and after an hour or so, with a bit of a struggle, I would have written my usual 400 - 800 words.
Recently, I was travelling to a networking meeting and didn’t have my iPad with me. I had an idea for a blog and so got out my trusty notebook and pen. Part of my brain thought this was a waste of time, because I was only going to have to type it all out later on, but I didn’t want to lose the idea. By the end of my 45 minute tube journey, I had drafted 3 blogs. To say I was amazed was an understatement.
As I thought about it, I realised that when I type, I edit as I go. I start typing, then correct a sentence. Then type the next sentence. Then the next. Then I move the third sentence to the beginning. Then I spend ages trying to hone the perfect phrase.
By the time I have done all this, I have completely lost my flow.
However, when I am writing by hand in my notebook, I know it is going to be edited when I type it up, and so I can be much more free and not worry about finding the mot juste. (In absolute truth, there is still a little bit of on the hoof editing, with arrows, asterisks and other random notes to myself, but still in a free form sort of way. To someone else, it might look a complete mess, but hey, that is probably what the inside of my creative brain looks like!) I think there is also something about the different sort of physicality in writing which feels more creative than the more mechanical typing.
So if you are stuck or feeling unproductive, why not try another medium? Even if you go back to using what you started with, just playing with another method as an experiment can shake up your thinking. And who knows, it could make all the difference. For me, nearly all my writing now starts in a notebook.
If this has struck a chord with you and you want to find out if coaching will support you, book for a Light the Blue Touchpaper session.