Sometimes the ideas stop.
When The Muse takes an extended vacation and you’re left with nothing but cold coffee and a blinking (accusatory) cursor on your monitor, what do you write? What do you say? Whether you’re writing a business plan, a marketing report or advertising copy for your business (or website), sometimes your creativity hits a roadblock.
My go-to as a kid writing letters home from camp always started with:
I am fine. How are you?”
Even then, The Rut was showing signs of its presence.
Even the most creative of us can encounter a dry spell. But if you hang in there long enough, you’ll also realize that the dry spell doesn’t last. But let’s suppose for the sake of discussion that you are hip deep in the middle of What Am I Going to Write About Land? What Is It That I Want to Say?
Glad you asked. Warm up your coffee and keep reading.
How do you get the Muse to land on your shoulder again?
1. Exercise. Seriously. Even taking a 20 minute walk around the neighborhood will jog the writing cylinders. If you’re determined to generate an idea on this walk, literally say aloud before striking out, “I want to think of a blog post about Penguins Who Wear Sweaters.” (or whatever your particular sticking point is). Then start striding. Your internal Girl (or Guy) Friday will fetch an idea from the Grey Matter Files while your feet do their thing.
2. Throw a bunch of words and phrases into a hat. These can be about any given topic: an industry, an idea, a discipline or craft ~ whatever you want to write about. However, also include some weird stuff, for example, things on your shelf or stuff outside your window. Maybe what you ate for lunch. Then draw out two or more pieces of paper from the hat. See if the phrases you pull out spark a sentence or a theme. Random collisions of unusual suspects will prompt new synaptic connections.
3. Read someone else’s blog. Ix-nay on the agerism-play. That said, reading something outside your area of expertise or outside your normal sphere of influence brings new ideas into your head. New = creativity. Shake things up. There are a lot of smart people with opposable thumbs in this world using keyboards. Read their stuff. Let it inspire you.
4. Read your old stuff. Pull your posts from your blog archives, review any journal articles you may have published… dust ‘em off and see if there is anything worth saving or if they’re still relevant. If they are, tweak them and update them to reflect your current state of mind. You may have learned more stuff. You may have changed your mind. See what happens when you hop in Mr. Peabody’s WABAC Machine.
5. Quotes. There. I said it. Google quotes about a subject that is running through your head and see what other Big Brains have had to say about it. Goodreads is another great spot in the interwebs to read what other SMRT people have to say about all sorts of stuff. Something they say will spark a reaction. Run with it.
If you’ve read this far, you are a creative person. You just forgot that it was true for a second. Go brew some more java and start writing ~ you’ve got something to say!
Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation) or “Like” them on facebook.
By Elaine Love
The media is buzzing about the “newest kid on the printing block.” What marvelous potential exists for this new technology! Just think what 3D printing can accomplish for the medical community, the automobile industry, architecture and even the toy industry. Will 3D printing ever reach the widespread popularity of the print industry as we know and use it currently?
Pause and hit Rewind
How does 3D Printing Work?
Three-dimensional printing is a process by which layers of material are stacked creating a physical object. Materials such as plastics, fabric fibers and even human tissue are fed into the machine to create the designs. Depending upon the machine, those layers could be created through stacking layers of light (FTI- film transfer imaging), fusing heated plastic filament or metal wire (FDM – fused deposition modeling) or laser technology with at least seven different types of metals (SLS – Selective laser sintering).
Sound complicated? Relax. I don’t pretend to understand exactly how the technology works. Do you know all of the exact technology behind how your smart phone works? Neither do I, but we still use our phones constantly.
What Benefit does 3D Provide?
Imagine being able to create an intricate architectural design to visualize exactly how your building or sculpture will look prior to construction. Imagine being able to create artificial limbs for accident victims or to correct birth defects. Imagine being able to create a spare part for a machine long after the model had been discontinued.
Through contour crafting it is possible to build an entire home: concrete foundation, plumbing, electrical wiring and all of the furnishings. A 2500 square foot house could be built in 20 hours. Imagine the benefit in restoring homes for victims of natural disasters.
Artificial limbs, prosthesis, can be created to assist accident victims and correct birth defects. 3D printing can produce medical devices such as those used in my spinal fusions. It is scary to think what could be created from human tissue as this technology advances.
Prototypes of automobiles, planes, boats and other mobile devices can be created and tested; design adjustments can be made prior to the expensive final production stage.
Can you imagine giving a child a 3D computer to create their own toys? At least it would be more engaging and positive for their mind than watching violence on TV. A few decades ago a child was given an erector set; next came Legos. Imagine telling a child to go to their room and create their own toy. At this point the complexity of programming the machine prevents this scenario, but will that change in the future?
How would a blogger utilize the services of a 3D printer? Imagine bringing your concept to life? The familiar quotation is “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Adding an image to your text enhances the visual appeal and engages the reader. Granted, becoming an excellent photographer to capture the 3D image to include in your post could present a challenge, but then you are up for a challenge. Tap your incredible imagination. Let me hear from you.
The possibilities are endless
What’s the Catch?
Three-dimensional printing is not new; 3D has existed for three decades. 3D printing has been too expensive, non-accessible, inefficient and too slow. Times are changing. According to Lisa Harouni of Digital Forming, detail and quality are improving; the price has been reduced to about $300 and the machine will now fit on a desktop.
What’s the problem?
The programming complexity makes the machine very difficult to use. At this point 3D Printing machines are not user friendly; however with rapidly advancing technology, this could change in the next few years. Three-dimensional printing has the potential to create a manufacturing revolution. Some are touting 3D printing as the answer to ending “made in China.” When manufacturing is cost effective, time efficient to produce, inexpensive to ship and accurate (machines eliminate the human error factor), 3D has the potential to bring the manufacturing industry back to America.
Will 3D Printing Replace Traditional Printing Companies?
No. 3D and traditional printing as we know it now serve two totally different purposes. It’s like asking if an exotic alcoholic drink will replace green tea. Both have their value, but they fill entirely different purposes.
The current fiercely competitive printing industry is expanding. A new online printing company will be challenged to the max to go head to head with the printing giants like Vista Print, PrintPlace.com, or PsPrint. The printing industry is not declining but thriving. Competition in the printing industry is intensifying. UPS and FedEx are trying to capture their own piece of the printing industry market.
A business card created with 3D printing shaped as an exact replica of an entire set of golf clubs may be fun and unique, but imagine attempting to place 20 of them in your wallet.
3D Printer in Every Home?
Does the possibility exist for 3D printers to be in most homes and offices? It’s possible. Is it probable? It was only a few decades ago when Ken Olsen, founder of the legendary minicomputer company DEC said, “there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.” Now we all have at least one computer and probably several when you include our smart phones.
As the volume of information increases and more and more records must be created and retained, does it really make logical sense to create three-dimensional contracts, three-dimensional business cards, three-dimensional letters or postcards and three dimensional grocery lists? No. Will the marketplace still need business cards, legal documents, restaurant guest checks, and printed marketing materials? Yes. The majority of printed materials as we know them will continue to be of significance.
There is a greater likelihood of electronic media replacing some paper documents than 3D printing replacing traditional printed materials. Three-dimensional printing serves an entirely different function in the marketplace than traditional printed materials.
So did we spark your creative juices? How could you potentially take advantage of 3D printing in your online business?
By Tiffany Matthews
One of the things that resonated with me as a writer during the new year is a wish that one of my favorite authors shared:
It’s a New Year and with it comes a fresh opportunity to shape our world.
So this is my wish, a wish for me as much as it is a wish for you: in the world to come, let us be brave â€“ let us walk into the dark without fear, and step into the unknown with smiles on our faces, even if we’re faking them.
And whatever happens to us, whatever we make, whatever we learn, let us take joy in it. We can find joy in the world if it’s joy we’re looking for, we can take joy in the act of creation.
So that is my wish for you, and for me. Bravery and joy.
If you are familiar with this, then you know Iâ€™m talking about Neil Gaimanâ€™s New Yearâ€™s wish. This is a wish that I feel resonates with every writer who is shaped by his or her experiences.
Bravery is a mantra that I think everyone should embrace this year, especially when we’ve been given a reprieve on doomsday last December. This is the year to make things happen and here are some resolutions that will help you achieve your writing goals.
Cruise, Drive, Fly
No matter how busy you are with writing, always set aside time for travel, to de-stress and unwind. Most writers, myself included, tend to be perfectionists and workaholics, which when combined can lead to being overworked and burned out. This is why taking a break every now and then is vital to keep your creative juices flowing.
Still not convinced? Perhaps this checklist can help shed light on why writers need to travel. Before you go on your adventure, keep in mind that travel is very unpredictable; therefore, itâ€™s better to be prepared for the worst that could happen. Always take travel insurance with you as your backup plan.
Make a Booklist
You might wonder how a must-read list of books will help you achieve your writing goals. Author Stephen King in his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, shares this valuable piece of advice to writers:
â€œIf you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.â€
The importance of reading is reiterated throughout his book, which is woven with his often humorous insights on writing as a craft. He further states, â€œGood description is a learned skill, one of the prime reasons why you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot.”
One Word at a Time
Getting published is one of writersâ€™ dearest dreams, a dream that is riddled with hurdles like trying to survive daily life. Dreams donâ€™t come true overnight and the reality is you have to work to survive. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can just abandon your dream of becoming an author. It can still happen, if you make it happen.
Set aside time to write for yourself and not just for work. You might feel overwhelmed at the sheer volume of words needed to create your book, but itâ€™s never really about the words. Itâ€™s the story that youâ€™re telling. Like what a friend of mine said when he paraphrased Lao Tzu’s famous quote, â€œThe journey of a thousand words begins with one word.â€
Swallow your fear and try to be brave as you take it one word at a time. Take comfort in what Stephen King said:
â€œThe scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.â€keep looking »