Monday, May 23, 2011

What do you do when you're stuck.

Every once in a while you have an assignment due and you have no ideas. You joke for a moment that you've run out of ideas for good--a nervous joking at best. For a moment, you attempt to reassure yourself--you have three teams working on this, you can hide behind your "supervisor" title and do nothing. But this joking and your attempt at reassurance don't work. You still have no ideas.

What do you do?

You take a walk around the block.
You browse the web for a few minutes.
You kibbitz with some friends.

But still, you have no ideas. And tempus is fugiting. What do you do?

If you're a writer, there's one thing I recommend. One thing that's worked for me for nearly 30 years.


Write good old-fashioned prose. Don't try to be clever or "line-y" or anything else. Just try to write about your assignment in the simplest and clearest way you possibly can. If you are working on an assignment about motor oil, write an essay called "On the difference motor oil makes."

Start writing.

You might wind up with absolute garbage. But your brain will start synapsing, you will need to do some research and sooner or later you might trip upon something interesting.

Maybe this won't work for you. It doesn't work for me all the time, but it does work at least seven times out of 10.

It's worth a try.


Anonymous said...

Or keep a bottle of Vodka in your desk drawer.

Anonymous said...

"This idea would’ve been just another mediocre facebook page without Smirnoff" ?

george tannenbaum said...

I'm not a drinker. I prefer a walk around the block.

Anonymous said...

when I'm stuck I work through it.