The Cure for Writer's Block

I get asked all the time: "How do I get over writer's block?" As someone who's made a living writing for several years now, I can tell you that there's a simple solution.

No, really.

Are you ready for it?

Just keep writing.

That's it. Just write. Whether you feel like it or not. Because at its core, writing is work. Does the electrician not wire your house because he's not feeling "inspired?" Does the plumber not fix your toilet because he can't generate ideas? You wouldn't accept this from any other profession, so why is it acceptable for you?

And if you can't do the work, maybe it's not the field for you. That's okay, the world needs accountants, carpenters, electricians, engineers, and nurses. All honorable jobs, probably moreso than writing. There's too many writers already, go do something you're better suited for that people need.

I've written plenty of articles and book chapters when my inspiration was dead. Was it my best work? No, but it wasn't that much worse than my best work. At least in writing, people don't stray far from their aptitude level unless they really work at it. You might do a little better, a little worse, but the important thing is to get it done.

The first job of the carpenter isn't to make your house pretty. He first has to lay the foundation and set the studs so you can have a wall. Concrete and 2x4s aren't pretty, but that's what drywall and paint are for. It's the same with writing. Frame the house (write the words) and then you can make it pretty later (in editing).

So stop making excuses and get back to work.

Ben Brooks's 30 Points of Wisdom

Ben Brooks turns 30 today (happy birthday!) and shares some of his accumulated wisdom:

Ignore people that constantly ask for your opinion, only to then refute your opinion. They don’t care to actually listen to your opinion, so you shouldn’t care to waste your breath.

Man, do I hate this one. At least four times a year, people will contact me out of the blue about which Android phone to buy. I, of course, say, "iPhone." Then a month later, they'll contact me again saying they love their HTC Impresso's 56" screen, but how can they improve the battery life? Grr.

Well tailored clothes make you look 50% better — no matter how cheap the clothes that are well tailored were when you purchased them.

True. My one and only suit was purchased for my high school graduation years ago, and still looks great.

Whenever you check out at a store and the little credit card reader asks if you want to donate to XYZ charity — just donate a dollar. It takes no extra time, you probably won’t notice the missing dollar, and you will be doing something good while you buy your Cheetos.

I should probably do this, I just hate feeling like I'm being ambushed.

Life is a lot easier if you set two standard drinks: one non-alcoholic and another alcoholic. Keep both simple, the more complex your order, the bigger an asshole you look like. (Doubly so with coffee orders.) Make sure both are common enough that even a dive bar will have them. (I went with Pepsi/Coke and Makers Mark on the rocks.)

This. I always felt like an asshole at the bar until I settled on a handful of drinks I like. Coffee in the morning, Coke Zero in the afternoon, bourbon on the rocks at home, martinis at bars.

Respect matters to people (well most people) more than money or gifts. If you want to retain an employee/tenant/anyone just treat them with respect — whatever respect means for the relationship you have with them — it will go further than any gift or money will (mostly).

I know this is true for me. But sometimes, a gift can be a sign of respect. The important thing is not to make people feel ten inches tall all year, then try to make it up with a gift. That just makes people feel like prostitutes.

Own your weaknesses. I know I’m not good at sports or grammar and a ton of other things. It is because I know this that I am willing to seek help and take advice on these matters. I was only able to do that when I admitted that I sucked at these things.

Do this, and you will make life better for yourself and your advisors.

When you feel like shit, smile. Smiling goes a long way and if you can get someone else to smile because you smiled, your fake smile might become a real one. And, if even just for a moment, you might feel better.

I used to suffer severe bouts of depression. Then, I resolved to do something good for someone worse off whenever I was down in the dumps. It really works wonders.