Personally, I first encountered “The Block” in 7th grade, when I had to write a 500-word theme about something or other. I most recently ran into it today, when I asked myself, “What am I going to blog about next?”
If you’ve ever gotten blocked, today is a good—maybe GREAT—day for you! I have 17 Block Busters that I’ve relied on since 1993. That’s 17 years, folks. (No, the “17 for 17” is not a mystical thing. It was an accident. Don’t go play the lottery based on this.)
Here they are, in random order:
• Go to an art gallery. Stare at a painting and ask “What story is this trying to tell?” (Some paintings don’t tell any story, but that’s not your problem. That’s the artist’s.)
• Shoot candid video of complete strangers and add some of their mannerisms to the characters in your novel or screenplay.
• Listen to a radio station that plays the kind of music that you don’t normally listen to. (Country, Rap, Rock, Classical)
• Listen to a talk radio personality you can’t stand. (As far as I’m concerned, that would be ALL of them.)
• New computers always have better ideas. Buy one and blow up the old one or give it to charity—unless it’s over six months old, in which case no charity would actually want it. (Remember to save your work on a flash drive or backup hard drive.)
• Volunteer to clean up a two-mile stretch of highway. The stuff you find will trigger a bunch of stories.
• Visit someone in a retirement center or nursing home. Listen to his/her life story. Offer a hug before you leave.
• Watch a “soap” on TV. Your worst stuff will look brilliant by comparison. (Unless, of course, you write for the soaps in which case this was a terrible insult and I apologize profusely. Really. I do.)
• Read a book by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
• Take a shower, go for a walk or run, and shower again. (I’m convinced that showers cleanse the mind as well as the body.)
• Paint or wallpaper something. (Do not try this with your spouse, your best friend, or your significant other! You do not want to write after a terrible fight.)
• Read a children’s book. (Long live Dr. Seuss!)
• Go to the library.
• Go to a movie.
• Two words: “MAD Magazine.” (Yes, it’s still around.)
• Begin work on another project—something you wouldn’t normally write. (A cartoon, a book, a screenplay, a stage play.)
• Rent a foreign film. (No subtitles. And don’t cheat by knowing the language.)
There you have it. But wait! There’s more! Here’s number 18. If you are a person of faith, pray about it. I personally believe that God is the author of the process we call call creativity. Look at a newborn or an ocean wave or a towering mountain or a magnificent sunset—then try to convince me otherwise.
Give them a try—one or all!
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