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5 Ways to Get Past Writer’s Block


(c) 2013 Windy Johansen

Writers block is a tough wall to have dropped in your way. I think writer’ s block has kept me from producing as much as I could. It happens in one of it’s smallest forms when we stare at a paper or blank computer page and wonder what to write.

I hope this helps you.

Learn About the Bricks in Your Wall

In order to take apart what is keeping you from writing, you need to see what you can see about the components of this wall between you and your writing.

Everything later on in this list, I’ve noticed, really just helps you learn about those bricks and yourself, while giving you new tools to take care of your writing-self, if not your whole self. (Or that’s how this works for me.)

So, here’s a few bricks that I’ve seen.

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5 Ways Writers Discourage Themselves


(c) 2013 Windy Johansen

As writers, we embark on an adventure every time we write. Why is that? It isn’t only the kind of emotional hurdles built by certain subject matter. It is also the kind of hurdles our own minds can build against this form of self-expression.

What are those hurdles? There are probably more than just these, but here are the five I thought of.

Assigning a Monetary Value Before A Project Begins
Creative pursuits are some of the most valuable things we can do. And that is before money enters into it. Writing is my favorite. I try not to think of money myself. It’s hard; I don’t have much. It would be very easy to fret about money, but it harms the quality of my work.

Money cannot be your first focus in your first steps of writing elements of a given project. Create first. You can assign a monetary value to it later if you want, but if you worry about money before the first word is written, you will likely crush something that could be both awesome and lucrative.

Let your mind be swimming in your writing (as much as you can). It’s a great place to be. :)

Telling Ourselves that Writing Is Only Fun (So We Can’t Spend Time On It)
As I said earlier, I know creative pursuits are very valuable. And I know our lives have so so much going on. There isn’t much you can cut away without everything falling apart.

And yet, I know that writing is just as important as all those other things. It has saved my life (in with God, loving loved ones, and other things I and others did). I cannot tell you how important it is to me. It is the only journal I have and the only one I can keep going. Hundreds of poems, all snapshots of my mental state and evidence of my growing skill.

I need to write just as much as I need to breathe. Along with that, I get to discover (all over again) how much my writing will tell me about how I really feel.

If you feel like you need to write for you to feel whole, then that is a good sign that you might very well need it. And I know you can find time.

Because it is so valuable, and it can be that thing that saves you.

Comparisons to Others
So you’re reading Longfellow on a cold night, with your favorite cocoa in the mug beside you. You think, “Oh I wish I could write like him!” (Substitute your favorite writer in for Longfellow if you like, he’s just one of my favorites.)

It doesn’t matter how rad Longfellow is (and he is!), he is not you, and you are not him. You need to be you. It’s okay if your results are awful and don’t measure up to whomever you’re thinking they should. Your writer’s voice is worthy of the time you need to spend building it and finding it, because you are worth that time.

It will likely be hard. Or really easy sometimes. Which leads into…

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5 ways that I integrate my computer into my life

My life is very full of computers. I impress (shock?) people with how much time I spend on my computer. I’m typing this while online, doing other things. (Those who are impressed/shocked tend to be older, though I doubt that all of them are older.)

(I should tell you that this will be long. Computers are my thing, so I tend to be long-winded about it. I’ll do my best to make this interesting.)

I’ve noticed that people don’t use their computers in the same way that I do. Maybe it’s that, like people ten years younger than me, I grew up on computers. My father worked as a programmer in the Eighties.

I joke that I’m a cyborg, and sometimes I think that’s somewhat accurate. (I’m not the only one with such a wild notion. There’s a lot of people in a sort of symbiotic relationship with their computers, tablets, and smartphones right now. Maybe you look at those people, and can’t understand.

I’m autistic, and so maybe I get more out of the symbiotic relationship than most people. But, even so, I wanted to share 5 ways that I integrate computers into my life. Maybe it will help you understand more about how you might make better use of whatever computing devices are at hand. Maybe it’ll just tell you what your kid is doing on that thing. In any case, I hope it answers some questions.

These are not in order of importance.

One – Social Contact
I frequent online forums. I don’t like chat rooms so much. Forums are wonderful. They let you talk to people when you have the time to talk. No one has to sync up in order to have a conversation. You can post at 8am your time, and your Aussie friend can post at 8am her time. I can come by whenever I need social interaction, but I don’t have to be “on” in order to be social.

As I said before, I’m autistic. This means that I do not read body language, and I often miss tone of voice. Socializing online often doesn’t include these things, so the playing field is level for someone like me. No one expects you to understand something that is not there in the first place, after all. Aside from being autistic, I’m an introvert, so in-person social exchange is exhausting. It might be that way for you, or the person you’re thinking of. (I don’t mean to say they are autistic, but there are many for whom it is exhausting to interact in person.)

Two – Creativity

I create lots of things with computers. Abstract art, poems, songs, things that aren’t quite songs, and other things. My computer helps me to translate my mind-life into the real world. It is even more helpful in this way than with social contact. I’ve discovered that I create more easily with my computer than I ever could with more conventional tools. I’m sure that’s not just me. I know there are others who find creating with their computers to be far easier and less expensive than conventional tools.

Three – Entertainment

My computer is my home theater. I watch movies, old TV shows, and listen to my music collection on my computer. I haven’t bought a stereo system since the one I had 20 years ago. I’d never buy a separate home theater setup, because nearly any computer I could have would have surround sound abilities (gotta buy the speakers, but that’s not too bad, relatively speaking).

I’ve fallen in love with the Sims series of games. There’s something about their quirky nature that’s so endearing. I love them too, too much. My Sims have more money than I do, and they nearly always have giant families. (One house had 30 or so people in it, thanks to modding tools. It was..odd, but glorious.)

(you can get the Starter Pack here, if you don’t see the image above.)

Free-to-play games are all over the internet. I play a number of them. I can have fun without spending piles of cash, I can try the ones I want, and support the good ones without supporting sloppy workmanship.

It is fascinating to me that this internet age has the power to bring us limitless forms of entertainment, and with it, the power to support that which is the best work.

I also read online. Now, I do read forums (as I’ve mentioned), but I meant reading. Like actual books, the ones you can buy from your local bookseller. I love ebooks. They’re little space-saving miracles. I must have 30-40 ebooks by now, most of which I got for free (BookBub, is my go-to site to get free/discounted ebooks).

Four – Education

I’ll admit it, I watch a lot of YouTube videos. And while that sounds like a terrible use of time, I should mention that I often am watching science videos. SciShow, Crash Course Chemistry, and Veritasium are some of the shows and channels I watch (YouTube totally has shows and channels; it’s awesome). I love learning about math, too. I’ll watch Numberphile and not be bored, despite my inability to actually work with math. Math is AWESOME stuff, really powerful.

I’ve also been able to follow some recent tech and science news. I’ve found out about the Hyperloop, a bullet train-esque tube-with-cars thing that boasts the ability to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes (or from SF to New York in roughly an hour). I’ve found out about how they are trying to make graphene-based supercapacitors that would recharge in seconds, and be biodegradable (Graphene is just carbon, therefore it has nothing environmentally dangerous in it.)

Youtube isn’t all. I’m a musician. There’s a site I found via StumbleUpon that tells you how often different chord sequences are used in songs, based on a database of 1300.

I love watching science-y things on Netflix. They’ve got tons. Nova, How it’s Made, and, MythBusters are some favorites of mine.

I also do much of my spiritual learning online. The church I attend (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has a wonderful website full of online versions of nearly anything.

I could, if I so chose, to watch General Conferences from decades past. I can get to all the study guides and manuals so I can prepare to learn when I’m actually at church. I could read copies of old LDS magazines. I don’t have to store them. That’s absolutely fantastic to me! :D

Five – Time Management, Home Organization, and Life Planning.
My memory is not the best. Fortunately, I have my computer, and its myriad tools to jot down everything. I love how easy I can get information about where I need to be without worrying that I’ve missed something crucial.

I’ve learned how to better organize my living space online. My living space is small, so vertical space is key. I’ve watched tons of videos about organization online.

In 10 years, I plan to have bought my own home. I intend to get one that is less than 1000 square feet. I dream of wood floors and shoji screens. I’d love to have floor-to-ceiling bookcases.

End – Conclusion
I don’t know if this has helped, but I hope it has.

How do you integrate your computer into your life? Is there a way I missed? Tell me in the comments.