Busting Through Road Blocks

Anyone who has written knows the pain of facing a creative block. Sometimes it happens right when you least expect it; in the middle of a paragraph, right before a deadline, or when a project depends on the wording and suddenly you have no direction.

The most common one for me, and my least favorite, is the ‘just getting started’ creative block. Fortunately, that is also the easiest one to break through. Here are three sure-fire ways to get past that first sentence.

  1. Say Anything – Long gone are the days when writing things was a costly and time intensive endeavor. Hand-pounded papyrus, quills, and chiseled tablets are now the stuff of hobbyists and, more likely than not, you’re working on a computer somewhere. Write whatever comes to your mind first and fix it later.
  2. Bookends can wait – If you simply can’t write a solid introduction without a heavy dose of inspiration, then don’t. Write a full-sentence outline of your main points and then fill in the transitions. When you’ve finished the meaty insides of  your post, then you’ll know how to best introduce it.
  3. Get a Prompt – When all else fails, find a question out there to answer. A big one or small one, having something to answer takes away half the battle. I recommend The Daily Post or, for some of our poets out there, describing a photo from Instagram.

I will leave you with a subversive piece of advice that I give to parents who want to ‘get their girls into tech’. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to have a single-topic passion from the start. Passion is something we learn by practicing and mastering an activity and mastery comes in small chunks and minor errors.

Every error is a learning opportunity or moment to change course. Embrace it and write with courage.

“One question haunts and hurts too much mention, was I seeking good or was I just seeking attention?”

I read a very interesting article this morning that dealt with promotions in the business world. Apparently a scientist in Great Britain has discovered a correlation between hard-hearted people and people who get the promotions. People were divided into three groups: nice people, neurotic people and mean people. The reasoning here is that nice people will allow others to walk over them and will always put others above themselves. Neurotic people are neurotic. Mean people will always put themselves first.

This begs the question, then, of motivation. I feel that I am a reasonably successful person and I certainly do not make a point of putting myself first or shooting others down. On the other hand, there are people in my current department who are very mean – we’re talking about people with dirty, two-faced souls – who have little success if any. What is it in this study that causes temperament seem so paramount? Is my situation just a complete abnormality in every sense of the word?

“Good and Evil, and their merits, men have argued through history as well they should. My philosopy, any child can see! Good is evil, so therefore all evil is good.”

I don’t understand why the people in my parents’ generation have any difficulty with computers. I don’t understand why a large portion of them can’t do more than exactly what they were shown to do. I really don’t understand why they blame every electrical problem on the computer. So I asked! And this is how it was put to me.

My mother grew up when computers were in the early developmental stages. These are the things she associated with computers:

1) Computers were terribly sensitive and would self-destruct if not dealt with properly. See Desk Set if you do not understand what I mean.

2) Computers were mainly used to detonate huge destructive trajectories that were involved mainly in wars. It was not a toy as it is now.

So you see, when older people go into fits over the new desk top you put on, or blame every electronic mishap on this new PC, it’s only out of habit. Nothing more, nothing less.

I took one last look at the clock in the corner of the computer screen. With only five minutes until the office closed, my only hope was to get her the right pair and convince her that I was right. As I stood to offer my help, her son came charging through with a puzzle and, being only three, tripped on his own feet and came crashing down. Within a moment, his parents were there asking how they could make it all better and with nothing more than a kiss, he was busily working on the puzzle once more.

Isn’t it amazing to think that at one point in our lives, all it took to fix any problem was a kiss to the affected area? Now, every time I talk to my friends, visit my friends homes, visit their websites and even when I visit the websites of people I don’t know… all I see are the troubles they are having. Whether their lives are this dramatic or if they are blowing things out of proportion is unknown to me.

Still, I wish that I could find that thing that would kiss their hearts and make everything better. I wish I could let them continue working on their puzzle.

The Harvey Girls

One of my favorite movies is The Harvey Girls about the waitresses in the Harvey Houses that cropped up around railways. In one of the earliest scenes the heroine, played by Judy Garland, emerges from the train looking fresh faced and smiling. She begins to sing of the wonderful trip and how refreshed she feels whilst galavanting around in a very charming way. Soon all of the passengers have joined her and they are all dancing and singing, much like the hamsters in the famed Hamster Dance.

Now, if I’m not mistaken (and surely I’m not) she jumped off a train after having ridden from Ohio to New Mexico and said “What a lovely trip, I’m feeling so fresh and alive.”

I feel it is necessary for me at this point to make an editorial comment. That comment is:

I recently took a comparatively small nine hour trip on a bus and I must say that when you get off, not only do you not feel fresh or alive but you most certainly do not feel in the mood to leap about like an abnormally musically inclined gazelle!

Perhaps there is a difference though. Perhaps trains are infinitely more comfortable than buses, the distance between Ohio and Flagstaff is much less stressful or maybe, just maybe, in a trip that takes more than nine hours there is a strange Twilight Zone effect and the world is perfect (much like Walgreen’s).

I think it’s a lie. I think it’s a musical which means, like all musicals, it’s fiction, everyone knows the same songs because it was planned that way and no one ever looks tired when they emerge from the train laden with three bags and a pillow. Or perhaps it’s part of a bigger plan that we have yet to realize.

Oh come on. This is an old movie! We’d have been informed of any major conspiracies by now!