LexiBoost Du Jour:
Impetus (n.): a moving force; impulse; stimulus
Sometimes just getting started is the most difficult part. Whether it’s drafting a new resume or writing an introduction for a paper or beginning the first chapter of a book. It’s that first line that often gets us and holds up progress.
We call it writer’s block.
The key to curing it is removing the barriers between you and your impulse and caving to the force that is moving you.
First: What is your impetus? Why are you trying to write in the first place? What is important?
Understanding why you’re writing is perhaps the most important step. Without purpose, writing is empty. It is common that the first lines of written text relay that purpose. So of course, you will be stuck if you’re not sure exactly what you want to do. But that’s ok. We often need stimulation to unearth the subterranean impulse. There are tons of great exercises to bring your subconscious desires into your conscious mind. One of my favorites is word association. It works to bring you around to what is really important and working in the back of your mind. For instance:
- Job Seekers/Resume writers might start by taking the words “job”, “career”, “benefits”, and “future” and spit the first thing out that comes to your mind. Without even realizing it, you will most likely give yourself a definitive direction for composing your resume–a focus for displaying all your career highlights to attain those aspects of a job (career, benefits and future) that you really want.
- Students/Scholars might free associate with the content of their topic taking random words from their research and using them to hone in on their understandings and focus within those parameters. For a US history paper about the Declaration of Independence, you might use words like “politics”, “relationships”, “war”, “continental”, and “rights” to get that first sentence going about your position in terms of this radical historical document.
- Writers/Authors might use emotions or scenery to access the mood and tone you are looking to achieve in those opening moments. These are so varied it may not be productive to offer an example but for myself in this blog I thought “starting”, “words”, “judgement”. So far I’ve only incorporated the first two but this leads to my last word…
In this exercise, release yourself from judgement. Judgement comes later in the editing phase. But to get started, let your mind loose–allow it to be unfettered and consciously unfocused. You want to allow the most access into yourself and into your creativity, no matter what kind of writing. When you allow yourself to forget about an end product and concentrate just on finding your purpose and starting the process, the harness of fear is released, the shackles of censorship are cast off, and the prison of anxiety is escaped.
Give yourself over to the impetus and allow yourself to ride the wave of that feeling.