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Three Things that Will Get You Unstuck If You're Staring at a Blank Page Right Now

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Writing for your business can feel daunting, even if you've been doing it for a while. These are my tips for getting started.  

1. Make a swipe file. Are you already doing this? I can't think of a writer who wouldn't (or doesn't!) benefit from looking for inspiration. Keeping a swipe file for the different types of writing you do is a great way to cut down on wasting time perusing the internet every time you need to write something. It's a great way for keeping you from falling down the black hole of Twitter/Facebook, too. 

Here are some swipe files to get you started (or Google them if you don't see one you like on the list!) 

 

2. Write down every good question. This tip is for bloggers. This is the best way I've found for avoiding that feeling of not knowing exactly what to write about. Either you can't think of anything, or you can't narrow down your topic. 

If you're committed to writing once a week or more, the only way you can stay consistent is if you create a long list of topics in advance. 

So, where do you get these topics? From your conversations with clients and colleagues. Every time they say something that sparks a discussion between you two, every time you give the same very good answer to a question you've answered 8 million times before, every time you tweet about a small moment or experience related to your workday, write down the topic and a brief description. 

 

3. Start in the middle. Full disclosure, this is the first full sentence of the blog that I actually wrote; this sentence right here.  

I didn't exactly start here. I started by outlining the blog--I know I'm going to write about writing down every good question and about keeping a swipe file (which you already read about, but which I haven't written yet.) The reason I haven't written those sections yet: after I outlined them I got worried and stopped writing. 

I started wondering, "Will anyone care about what I have to say about this topic?" "Do the people reading my blog really care about this topic?" "This is not going to be that good--why am I bothering?"  

I have had this issue my whole writing life. It hasn't mattered what I was writing. It's worse when you're hoping that people will read what you're writing (as opposed to hoping they won't read it, which is a state more common among writers than you might think).

When I start at the beginning, I have this kind of Pavlovian reaction of  paralyzing fear that it won't be good enough for anyone to read. And I have to stop.  

So, I started skipping to the middle. 

I write as though I've already gotten the hard part out of the way and I just have to get this darn thing finished. This mental trick (if you want to call it that) allows my fingers to loosen up--literally--as I start typing out the meat of a single idea.  

I guess starting in the middle is a kind of swipe file. Getting a meaty idea fully formed on the page means you're not staring at a blank page anymore. You just need to go back in and connect the ideas. 

Ok back to the top. 

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Get It Done.

I wrote down my goals during the workshop. I looked at them.

They looked back at me.

In any goal-setting, goal-achieving program, this is usually as far as I get.

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Re-Committing to Your Goals and "The Fresh Start Effect"

It's almost March, which means this year is officially no longer new. Remember all of those inspiring Instagram posts on Jan. 1 about how this was page 1 of a 365-page book, like this one? 

Today is Day 54 of 2016. Now is the time when we start to feel less like the photo above, and more like the photo below. 

 

Getting punched in the mouth happens to me almost every day that I try. I flail around every time it happens, but that doesn't make it hurt any less. In fact, flailing around just makes it take longer for me to regain my balance. 

The "Fresh Start Effect" allows us to reset and re-commit to our goals. Hear more about how to replicate the "fresh start" without needing to wait for another new year or milestone.

Here's a tool I'm using every day to deal with getting punched in the mouth (also inspired by James Altucher, the podcaster you heard if you clicked the link above).

Writing 10 ideas every day. I like to do this early in my workday. Here's a method for practicing.  

What I get out of this: A safe space to spout as many bad ideas as I can think of. Not just an outlet for creativity, but a kickstart for it.

Ten minutes of absolute freedom from self-criticism. Room to be creative. Room to sound like an idiot. 

 

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Starting in The Middle

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Starting in The Middle

"When I sat down to write, I remember staring at the blank screen thinking, 'I have no idea what I'm doing.' There's this moment of fear before I ever write anything."

Sound familiar? 

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