DoodleStorming: Works on Even the Meanest Blocks


“It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.” — Jack Kerouac

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We’ve all sat and stared at the evil Count Cursula’s metronome-paced rhythm. Its incessant blink taunts us. In fact, Cursula is doing it now in an attempt to prevent me from writing about a countermeasure for the horror it evokes.

After years of fighting off the creative-vampire that sucks the words right off of my screen, I discovered an ancient defense to conquering demon writer’s block. And, no, it is not a wooden stake to the center of your monitor, although that can be extremely tempting. It is, however, important to act quickly. Follow this timeworn ritual and you, too, can claim defeat over the most savage idea slayer.

  1. If the blank screen torments you for more than a few minutes, immediately turn off your monitor.
  2. Stand up and back away from your computer. Back. Away.
  3. Find the nearest weapon of choice – a pen, pencil, sharpie or crayon if you’re desperate.
  4. There is an archaic material used in emergencies such as this – paper. Find and grab several sheets.
  5. Take your pen and paper into a completely different room – away from your digital device. The demon can reach you through any enticing cloud-connected apparatus.
  6. Sit down, preferably in front of a window if the outdoors is your thing or in a comfy place away from any distraction.
  7. Firmly place the tip of your pen to the paper and let your hand begin making shapes. No words – that comes later. Simply let the pen wiggle and swirl and spill ink upon the purity of the blank paper.
  8. At some point during your DoodleStorm, a word will pop into your brain. Without judgement or edit – write it down.
  9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 until you have generated several words connected by doodles, or vice-versa.
  10. It won’t take long before those words begin forming coherent connectors to what you were writing about in the first place. Once they do, keep DoodleStorming for a bit longer to ensure the blocking beast is vanquished.
  11. When the words pouring from the pen far outweigh the doodles, it is time to return to your modern clackity-clacking device. Gently thank the pen and paper and place them in a sacred location to be retrieved upon the next blank screen emergency.
  12. Go write.

If you don’t believe the ritual put forth by my unfamiliar authority, listen to Paul Arden, most famously of Saatchi and Saatchi, when he said, “If you get stuck, draw with a different pen. Change your tools; it may free your thinking.”

Either way, ‘tis better to have doodled and lost than to end up with squat on the page.

Kathleen Vaught is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Awesome! Let me know how it goes! Not that I would wish writer’s block on anyone, sometimes it is nice to know we are not alone, right? 🙂