Wednesday, September 06, 2006

How to Tear Down the "Mental Berlin Wall" in Your Mind

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Do you ever wonder why ideas sometimes don't seem to be forthcoming? If you're a writer, perhaps you've suffered from the so-called "writer's block." If you fall in this category, you're probably wondering how to knock those walls down to make way for actionable ideas.

One way is through a lot of creative writing. People frequently ask how I have been able to come up with so many articles these days for my blog, website and other projects. It did not happen overnight - I've been writing in one form or another since the mid 90's.

Here’s how to dig into the well of actionable ideas within you:

1. Start a private dairy and write everything that comes to mind without regard to spelling, grammar or sentence structure. Do this for a few minutes every day for a couple of months. Don't worry whether or not your words make sense. They are not for public consumption anyway. Like building your muscles at the gym, you are exercising your creative juices. Starting a private diary will begin to weaken the mental blockages.

2. Sit at your computer with your eyes closed. Let your mind dictate what your fingers will do on the keyboard. Describe in words what you imagine yourself doing, saying, acting and thinking twenty years from now. Let your mind run amok and don't worry about proper writing protocol. This will surely get your creative juices flowing even faster because you'll have fun writing your future!

3. Purchase the book, "The Artist's Way," by Julia Cameron. It’s a great resource for getting in touch with your inner creativity. It is full of writing exercises that are designed for solo and/or group work. If you motor through the entire book, not only will you access the stairwell of your imagination but you will also learn how to trust yourself, further tearing down the mental "Berlin Wall."

4. I also recommend you get "Simple Abundance" by Sara Ban Breathnach. It was from her book that I began to write, on a daily basis, at least 3 to 5 things I was grateful for that day. It helped me:

a. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude
b. Recognize more of the positives rather than the negatives of life
c. Attract more of what I was grateful for
d. Make way for creative ideas

5. Start composing short stories about your life's experiences. This will force you to become more disciplined because you’re now paying more attention to spelling, sentence structure and so forth.

As you rewrite (and rewrite) to polish your first draft, you will learn how to make it flow better with less, rather than more words. The path to your inner pool of ideas is now becoming well worn by this point because you're keeping at it on a frequent basis, preventing mental blockages from building back up.

Think of it this way. Ever been to a nature trail? If a lot of people walk the path, hardly any grass will grow there, right? If no one came for months for a hike, what would happen? Grass and weeds would obstruct the path. It's the same concept here. The more you write, the more you clear away mental blockages because you've traveled down that way many times.

6. Look around the internet to test the strength of your short stories. Give sites like Heartwarmers.com and EzineArticles a try. They cost nothing and are moderated by human editors, which mean all submissions are individually reviewed before being accepted.

For almost a year, I used Heartwarmers to test the quality of my short stories because only one was selected for their daily newsletter, sent to 50,000 subscribers around the world. That meant if my story was accepted, than it must have been of good quality. Three of them that were previously accepted at the Heartwarmers site eventually found their way to best-selling books like "Chicken Soup for the College Soul," "heartwarmers" and "Magical Souvenirs: Mystical Travel Stories from Around the World." That says a lot about the quality of their stories. Go check them out!

7. Create a blog. Blogger.com is the easiest, in my opinion, for the non-techie. Having a blog will motivate you to write more because now you have a level of responsibility to your readers. I've written over 60 articles since creating this blog a couple months ago. You'd be surprised how much information you have inside you, dying to get out. The more you write, the more ideas will come bubbling to the surface.

8. Now you’re ready to carry around a notepad everywhere you go. Since you’ve cleared the way for ideas, they will start to come out of nowhere. Sometimes they come fast and furious. If you don’t have a way of recording them at a moment's notice, they'll be gone forever because they are by nature fleeting. Often they lead you to a certain course of action, opening the way for your dreams to come true.

And it all starts with creative writing!

Food for thought: Start a private diary or write 5 things you're grateful everyday to get a head start on releasing mental blockages. The practice of creative writing is like unclogging a blocked artery, making way for a torrent of blood (ideas) to flow.
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