“I'm always trying to turn things upside down and see if they look any better.” – Tibor Kalman, Born, Jul. 6, 1949.
When you're stuck, a change in perspective can make all the difference in the world.
Obviously, writers don't have the same ease in just “turning things upside down” that a designer might have.
But if any given piece of work is stifling you, consider radical change.
Not necessarily because your output will be better – but because it will simply unclog the blockage.
For example, if you're stuck writing a sales page or offer… Flip it “upside down” and write a hate letter about the product from a disgruntled customer.
If you're writing an “action” piece that is supposed to get someone to click or subscribe or fill out a form, and you're blocked…
Flip it “upside down”, and instead write about why no one in their right mind should EVER do the action you want them to.
Reversing the creative flow has an uncanny way of acting like a mental plunger when the pipeline of ideas is plugged up and will not flow.
Once again – I'm not suggesting the output of this reversal exercise will ever be actually usable. But the activity itself will yield powerful ideas.
You may be able to mine bits and pieces you can use. But even if you can't, the practice of this kind of thinking over time will make you a better and more agile persuader.
Heck, practice it anywhere and everywhere.
Any time an argument comes up on social media about a subject you have strong opinions on, try arguing for the opposite of what you actually feel.
Just for fun. Just to pretend. Just to flex your mental muscles to the point where you can easily and confidently argue for or against anything.
WARNING: this might accidentally make you more sympathetic and open minded when it comes to ideas you currently oppose…
But that's how powerful the technique is. When you're jammed up, change your perspective. Reverse it. Pretend. See what pops loose.
Do you have any similar tricks for flexing your mental muscles when you find yourself bound up?
<!—- lagniappe So this one is a little different because I’m gonna tell you about toys you can buy and games you can play to help blow past any kind of mental block you may be having. I use these personally, but they are far from the only ones. 1. Rory’s Story Cubes. These are dice with different pictures on them. They have lots of themed sets, and the idea is that you roll a handful of them, and try to make up a story based on what you get. They don’t come with rules, and there’s no wrong way to play with them. I use them 2 at a time, and try to figure out a way to use the relationship between the two images I rolled to give me a way out of being stuck. Also available as an app. 2. Oblique Strategies. These are a set of cards with instructions on them, originally developed by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt and it’s meant to help musicians work through blocks in songwriting and production, or just come up with off the wall ideas. It’s hard to get official physical copies, but you can make your own and there is also an app. 3. Cut ups. This is a game invented by several dada artists last century - they did it with comic strip panels among other things, where you cut everything into pieces, and then play with the pieces in different combinations to see what new ideas or relationships can come out of it. I’ve done this with text I’m writing and drawings I’ve done. Just cut them to pieces and re-assemble them. Surprising revelations! Sometimes. 4. Emotion shift. I have dice for it (because I’m a dice-collecting nerd) but you can use any online or app-based randomizer, or just make a numbered list and roll regular dice. Make a list of emotions, and then pick one randomly and use that as a lens to read the piece you’re stuck on out loud. Get the emotions involved so that you’re reading it angrily, for example, and use that emotion to push through and see what an angry person would think or say next. You don’t often use what comes out, but it does help remove the block by clarifying the RIGHT emotion you should be using. 5. LEGOs. Freestyle. Just start playing. Something about that activity almost always knocks something loose from me and I can go back to the work. And if it doesn’t, hey, I made a cool spaceship or whatever. Post a picture for the likes. This list is far from exhaustive, but Google creativity toys and games if you want more. These are the ones I go back to again and again. Report back if you try them! —->
1 thought on “Hot Tip For Busting Writer’s Block: Flip The Script”
Went to get the Rory's cube App on G Play for $2 (Android), but so many crash reviews… I'mma get the real ones.
Great actionable "extras" in your email newsletter.
Thanks for everything, as always.