The first step in overcoming a writing obstacle is to sit down and define what that obstacle is. In this video, learn an easy trick to help you figure out exactly what your specific problems are so you can address them head on.
- I'm guessing because you're taking this course that you're struggling with something. You've got a writing project that's just not working. Maybe a deadline is looming, and things aren't coming together, or perhaps you've got an idea, but you can't manage to get it off the ground or even start, or maybe you've been speeding along on something, and now you're stuck and don't know what to do or where to go next. Whatever your specific ailment might be, we're going to fix it. This course is specifically designed to unblock your mind and get past any obstacle you've come across in any writing project you're working on, whether that be a novel, a nonfiction book, an article, a blog post, a school paper, an essay, song lyrics, a dissertation, a short story, a poem, a screenplay, a stage play, even an e-mail you have to write. Any problem you have, you're going to overcome it, I promise you. Here's how we're going to start. I want you to pretend that I have a magic wand. It looks something like this. Yes, I bought this at Harry Potter World, but this is a very special wand. It's the writer's block wand. It can make any writerly problem you have disappear, poof, just like that. Cool, right, but in order for the magic wand to work, in order for me to wave it and make your problem go poof, I have to know what your problem is. I have to understand it on a level that you understand it. After all, I don't know anything about you. I don't know you or your writing project, let alone what's blocking you on it. So I want you to explain it to me in a letter. That's right, I want you to sit down right now or when the lecture is over and write down exactly what your problem is. What are you currently struggling with in your writing project? Now remember, I don't know anything about this project. I've never heard of it before, which means you really have to make it clear to me. You might have to explain entire plot lines or a back story of a character or the inspiration for the article or exactly what you're trying to achieve with the essay. You might have to go deep in order for me to wave that wand and fully understand the problem. So take your time, and make sure that you are not only explaining the problem but explaining it with enough clarity that even I, who know nothing about it, can understand and go oh yeah, I see what you mean there, big problem. Here's the catch, though. You will not actually send this letter to me. I honestly don't have time to read them all, and if you did all send your letters to me, then it really would be a scene from Harry Potter, and if you don't get that joke, go read the first book or watch the movie, but that's okay. You don't need to send me the letter. That's not the point of the exercise. The point of the exercise is for you to get very clear to yourself about what you're struggling with right now, and the best way to do that is to explain it to someone who doesn't know you or has no idea what you're working on, in other words, an outsider. You can address the letter to me. You can even use my name if you want. You can write sentences like so you see, Jessica, this character just doesn't seem to want to do what I tell her to do, or help, Jessica. My idea for a blog post isn't working, or you don't have to write the letter to me. You can write it to anyone you believe has the power and ability to help you fix your problem. This could be your editor or an imaginary editor, your agent or your dream agent. This could be your best friend, a family member. This could be Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Aaron Sorkin, Carl Rowan, Langston Hughes, or whoever your writing idol might be. Address it to them. Make them understand what you're dealing with. Again, you won't send this letter. You'd have had a time machine to send it to some of those idols. This exercise is designed to clarify your thoughts and target your current problem or blockage. If you have more than one problem you're dealing with right now, just pick one for the sake of the exercise. You can always repeat the exercise again when you're finished. Okay, are you ready? Pause the course and write that letter. Me and my magic wand will be waiting for you in the next lecture.