Friday, October 20, 2006

Another Point of View on Writer's Block

Writer's Block? Brainstorm Yourself!
By Elaine Berry

Have you ever been on a “Training Day”?

When I used to work for a local government department, we often used to get sent on Training Days.

They weren’t quite the same as “courses”. The idea was usually for management to get staff discussing their proposed policies (yawn…). Almost invariably, they consisted of an introductory session, followed by everyone being split up into groups, each with an assigned topic for discussion.

The group sat round an easel with a flip-chart attached to it. An eager leader stood by the easel with a marker, waiting for contributions.


Everone was paralysed. Most people’s minds went a complete blank. Even if people did have an idea, they were afraid to express it, for fear it would sound silly.

But just now and again, instead of just standing there, the group leader would say, “Now we are going to brainstorm.”

In a brainstorming session, everyone said THE FIRST THING THAT CAME INTO THEIR HEAD. Everything went on the flip-chart whatever it was. Never mind if it sounded silly, or obvious, or naïve, or ridiculous. It all went down.

What a difference! Instead of a stony silence, everyone was loosened up, and their mental juices started flowing. And the remarkable thing was, that amidst all the debris of useless ideas, more and more nuggets of excellence started appearing. Most of these ideas would never have emerged by the normal method.

You’re a copywriter – or you want to be. If you tell me that you have never sat in front of a blank sheet of paper, or a blank computer screen, and felt completely paralysed, I won’t believe you. It happens to everyone.

It happens because you are scared that what you write down will be silly or that it won’t be appropriate or good enough. You are waiting for inspiration, for the great idea, which you will then express in perfect well-honed prose. Well, in most cases you will wait for ever.

When this happens to me, I find one solution works every time. I brainstorm MYSELF!

Don’t sit and chew your pen. JUST START WRITING.

If it seems silly, or obvious, or a load of cliches, NEVER MIND. Just write and keep on writing. Think of the topic you are supposed to be writing about and write whatever comes into your head, whether it seems immediately relevant or not. Believe me, you will soon find ideas start to flow.
And it doesn’t have to be in perfect sentences. The sentences can come afterwards. Note form will do for now. You will soon find the ideas are coming so fast that you have to scribble to get them down.

Of course, you will end up with a lot of rubbish or even gibberish. But in the midst of it there will be good stuff – I promise you! Naturally you will have to rewrite, but now you actually HAVE something to rewrite, instead of a blank sheet of paper. And you will find rewriting itself brings up even more ideas!

It’s called “brainstorming” because the ideas are there, all the time, in your brain! You just need to loosen up to get them out.

Get into the brainstorming habit and just see how your productivity rockets!

Elaine Berry is the owner of Bizwrite, the only one-stop-shop for writing services. Bizwrite provides copywriting, ghostwriting, article writing and proofreading services, and also provides help and tuition in all aspects of writing. Visit for a FREE e-course on copywriting.

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