“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?” — Kurt Vonnegut
Hope you enjoyed that video! I’m really liking these short form videos. I’m hoping that soon I’ll get really, really awesome at making them. I’ll keep hustling and making them better. Now, here’s where I kill it.
The Blog Post of Ultimate Destiny:
If you’re into writing at any level, or any creative struggle at all, you’ve experienced blocks or wordlessness. The brilliant vocabulary you’ve gained over the last 5 years isn’t spilling gloriously onto the page like you’d hoped, and now you’re upset. Deadlines, headaches, anxiety. The question is: What Can You Do About It?
Here’s a long list of solutions. Some silly, some serious, all effective.
Writer’s Block Destroying Activities:
- Read More. If you aren’t reading and researching topics, you aren’t serious enough about writing. Be a more prolific reader for God’s sake.
- Live A More Interesting Life. When you do cooler things, you have more stories to tell. That leads to better analogies and examples, more enthusiasm, and ultimately more writing power. ie. go out more often, learn a language, speak to more people.
- Copy People. If you’re trying to be an effective writer, you can’t afford NOT to imitate or emulate other styles of writing. I used to copy pages of books or sales letters I found interesting by hand (pen and paper) and absorb their voice, making it my own. When you do this you realize that you’d say certain things differently and learn what they’re really trying to say ie. subtleties in tone, grammar, punctuation, meaning, context.
- Try Other Styles. Trying out other styles of writing is a good break from the monotony of writing only one class of literature or bulletins of information and storytelling. If you write non-fiction, pick up some fiction and vice versa. Try out poetry. Try out sales writing. Try writing a script or a song. It all blends together to create a perfect symphony of personal style and a unique voice.
- Write Conversationally. If you write like you’re talking, you’ll never run out. Nobody ever gets “Talker’s Block.”
- Diversify Your Topics. I don’t usually write long list posts, but I said, “Fuck it,” and I think it’s going pretty well. Maybe you haven’t written enough “ultimate” posts where there are long, exhaustive tangents of information meant to be the final word on a subject. Maybe you need more philosophical, essay-like posts that dive deep into the soul of a topic. You could even try rants or case studies, analysis of a situation in detail, or a behind the scenes post.
- Just Keep Writing. In the mornings, there’s a wheel pushing against you. It’s your job to push against this wheel every morning until it’s spinning in your direction. The idea of momentum is so strong and so pervasive that even Donald Trump feared losing it after speaking to a titan of industry. Dating coaches and pick-up artists use it to get out of their heads when they’re trying to meet women. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett used it by relentlessly working to build their fortunes. No days off = easier to get into the habit.
- Use the 5% Rule. Nobody asks you to do everything all the time. You just need to do something most (ideally all) of the time. Write a short 300 word piece now, maybe it takes 15 minutes at first. Eventually it’ll take you 7 minutes. Then in that 15 minutes you’re writing a 600 word post. Then you keep that up until you’re writing essays as thick as a doctor’s final dissertation. You’re writing volumes of Ayn Randian proportions or tomes of information and history like Will Durant. If you can’t handle a lot now, keep adding it up, and you’ll get there.
- Do a 90 Day Challenge. The new science out of London is apparently 66 days to create a new habit, beating out the 30 day belief by more than double. I’m upping the ante by saying 90 days. 3 months. If you can keep it up that long, it actually feels weird when you don’t do it.
- Do a 7 Day Fast-Start Challenge. Not everybody has the will power and momentum of a raging locomotive. For those of you unready and unable to commit to that, I challenge you to do just 7 days. Everyday for a week, do something. You won’t have a full habit by any means, but it’s a start. If you can do it for 10 days, even better.
- Take a 15 Minute Break. After all that talk about “keep writing” and “momentum” it seems unfitting to put in a post about rest. Well, I actually believe in rest. People who have disproportionate amounts of rest:work tend to burn out too quickly. You can avoid that by just doing enough to keep doing it over and over again. Which leads us to the next point:
- Do Enough To Keep It Up Daily. You can’t write a complete, exhaustive post every single day. Pavel Tsatsouline has this exercise principle for gaining musculature strength (one that’s based on training your nervous system, rather than getting huge, hulking muscles). In that training program, he was teaching S.W.A.T. officers how to keep that up and his Russian military explanation what something like: when Russian soldiers are on a mission for extended periods of times, months or years, they don’t always have the best food or heavy weights to keep up their strength. They needed a way to keep their strength while being away from the gym for a long time. The solution: train the nerves and fundamental musculature, not the mass-heavy muscles. In this same way, writing every single day in small, effective doses trains you to be a beast… Rather than burning out.
- Eat Good Food. When you’re healthy, you function better. You especially want your brain functioning and to be unclouded. When you get “brain fog” (can’t think clearly) you become slightly… or drastically… more stupid.
- Try Out Nootropics. They’re actually kind of cool. If taking supplements isn’t your thing, you don’t need to, but I find it helpful. I take 5-HTP, which basically helps your mood. Modafinil and adrafinil also help you with focus, and stuff like phenibut makes you more bold. If that sounds like hoo-haw, I don’t blame you. I just take my little 5-HTP, Omega-3, and some basic vitamins to help with mood and brain function and joint health. (Sitting in a chair writing isn’t exactly the best on your wrists, ass or back).
- Stop Complaining. You chose to do this. Nobody forced you to be a writer, or an editor, or a business owner. That’s your fuckin’ choice, bro/gurl. Stop complaining and just start writing. Writing is a glorious art, essential to humanity’s growth. As much as videos are important, text still plays a role. If somebody somehow did force you to be a writer, like you’re in a prison camp and they’d shoot you in the head if you didn’t dictate for them, then maybe you can hate writing. But even then, if you’re still alive, that’s an opportunity to be grateful. But if you do something, just do it. Stop bullshitting yourself and everyone around you. Note: you can rant occasionally, but complaints are petty and stunt growth. Be very careful about either. Alternatively…
- Complain A Lot. Obviously I’m biased because I like the happy-go-lucky hustler route, but for those of you who like the bruting, cynical route — you have a solution. If you’re gonna complain, do it all the time, then translate that into witty, comical, serious posts about what’s wrong with people. That could easily turn into clickbait or into a world-changing idea just as easily some an inspirational post. (Anger, hope and laughter are the biggest drivers of viral, mainstream content). As I said, even though I like the happy route, I would be remissed if I didn’t balance it out with the opposite perspective.
- Watch Comedians. I listen to Kevin Hart and Aziz Ansari allll the time. They’re my favourite musicians. Whether it’s their stand-up specials or their interviews, I watch that shit like a cat stalking a laser beam. Not just because it’s entertainment, but because I’m learning about delivery and timing and how to put together a funny piece of insight. I also watch Will Ferrel’s talk show interviews — soooo God damn funny. My favourites include Little Debbie, the one about Kristen Stewart, his lip sync battle, where he makes fun of little Russian gymnasts, the drum off videos (part 1 and part 2) with Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and where he wears ladies sunglasses.
- Be Distraction-Free. The reason I like writing on Medium is because it’s simple and intuitive. I don’t listen to music, I limit the amount of studying and research I do (unless I’m linking or quoting something, I try to stay on target). I’m not perfect at this, and who is? But I’ll tell you what — I’m writing the hell out of this post and it’s not taking a lifetime.
- Trigger, Action, Reward. In the book “The Power of Habit,” Charles Duhigg basically explains the process of a trigger, action and a reward. Something signals you to begin (the trigger), you do the action, then afterwards to reward yourself for doing it (reinforcing the behaviour). My signal for writing — waking up. My action(s), I write a post on Medium and make a video about the same topic for my blog. My reward? I get to sleep and make money. And I eat something. You can be more glamorous about this if you want to, but when I start writing, I basically don’t stop until it’s midnight. I ghostwrite, I make personal posts, SEO affiliate websites, business proposals, news releases, video scripts. All sorts of things. When you’re a writer, you’re like a lion. Real lions like to hunt. Real writers like to write. Note: get a wrist guard and anti-inflammatories.
- Hang Out With Your Friends At Least Once A Week. I’m not saying you need to party hard or drink, but watch a movie or take your girlfriend/boyfriend out for a date. ONLY writing is a lonely life (writers tend to be lonely). But if you have friends, you get to relax, break the monotony and your quality of life increases infinitely.
- Travel More. Writers and online business owners have a unique quality: they can do their job basically anywhere. The laptop lifestyle is a real thing. So unless you’re stuck in the office all day, no way out, then you need to check out other cities and other countries. Going on a 2 week road trip with one of my close buddies and his Australian friend (really cool guy) was insane for my productivity and creativity. I learned a lot, even though I didn’t intend to. My only caveat being that you still need to dedicate time to actually writing, rather than screwing around. Even keeping a little travel journal is helpful.
- Write More In Secret. I write anonymous blog posts all the time, on unnamed, unrevealed blogs. I have a few blogs on “different” topics that I’ve never shared with anybody. Not to freak people out, but I have one on my dating life under a pseudonym (alias/alternative name), another where I wrote short erotica fiction (I downloaded a book by a famous erotica author and thought it would be interesting), I used to write music album reviews for a Canadian music blog, one where I posted drink recipes, and back in my nightclub promoter days I wrote on nightlife and the cool adventures I went through. I forgot most of them, unfortunately, but it’s still fun to remember. (I should Wayback Machine them and re-post a few)!
- Exaggerate Your Goals. I don’t mean exaggerate as in over-exaggerate, I just mean blow them up to superhuman standards. You’ve gotta aim for the fuckin’ TOP! Goals are useless unless they’re big enough to hit. Small goals are good for the short term, but you need an underlying vision of what fuels you. Gary Vee has the Jets, Warren Buffett has passion, and Elon Musk wants to change the world. What’s your fuel? My fuel is to be featured on the Huffington Post (30 days from now), to make $1 million (before I’m 25), and to die with $1 billion. We’ll see how close I get to them, but I’ll be damned if I don’t try.
- Quantity and Quantity Are EQUALS. I’ve heard all this talk, “Blahh blah blah, blah blah,” about posting frequency… Here’s my take on it, for what it’s worth. Posting more frequently just freaking works. The more you put out, the more people you’ll reach, assuming you’re promoting it simultaneously. Some people are under the impression that you can’t actually have a quality post that is done in only a day. Okay, fair enough, not every post will be the Mona Lisa. That’s why you work your fuckin’ face off to get something high quality out, that’s also consistent, at the same time as writing you ultimate tomes of knowledge that are posted less frequently. Once a week or every 2–4 weeks, post something. In the meantime, answer audience (or imaginary audience) FAQ’s, or generate a topic out of thin air using headlines and creativity. You should be posting on your blog, on Medium, guest blogging, getting people to blog on yourwebsite. Everything. Frequency = opportunity. Quality = retention. Have as much of both. Pro Tip: to avoid being annoying on your blog, you can post less often there (if it fits your audience). You should ALWAYS be posting on social media, making videos or some short and making content outside of your isolated little blog. Or at least go to a conference or a networking meeting once in a while.
- The Rule of 7. This rule goes in line with consistency and momentum. I explained this to an ex of mine who was having a hard time (we’re friends now). Basically what I said to her was that when you have a lot of 7/10 days you avoid the high’s and low’s of 10/10 into the 1/10 days. You know the feeling. You’re up one day, riding the high of your accomplishments, and all of a sudden disaster hits. You’re scrambling to get your life together, everything’s a mess, you’re depressed. The manic-depressive mode seems to cut so deep, and you miss the days when everything was so joyful and full of bliss. But stack a lot of 7/10 days in a row, you don’t crash very hard, and as a benefit you work your way up to greatness (the consistent 10/10 days). Then 6 months later, you realize you can take things to an even higher level. The previous 10/10 is now you’re 7, and you’re ready for more. You can use this when improving your skills in any area, you can take it as a way to enhance your mood, relationship quality, as a way of creating healthy habits. It’s a very flexible rule.
- Spend The Most High Energy Part Of The Day Creating. We all have slightly different tolerances for the daytime. Some of us love mornings, some of us love nights. Afternoons and evenings seem to be a strange twilight zone where nothing memorable happens. This is actually where the most productivity gets done. That strange twilight zone area: that’s where you’ll typically find you’re the most awake (whether or not you’ve been working all night and slept in, or you just woke up). If this is the case for you, do it. If not, find what time is the best for you to get things done, but when you have mental energy, use it!!
- Be Organized. The difference between people who are “good” and people who are “great” is being organized. Knowing where everything is and having a work process makes everything easier. Jobs get done faster, letters get written quicker and cleaner, and it’s easier to find elusive files. So create a swipe file of blog topics and headlines, then use that to inspire you. Create a content calendar (this usually doesn’t work for me, I just find a topic and free flow with it). Put your work files in Google Drive, Dropbox or Evernote. My combination of Evernote and Google Drive is genius (for me). Just do what works.
- Read For 10 Minutes Before Writing. I tend to read for maybe 30 minutes and this includes blog posts, emails, funny stuff on the Internet. Just enough to get me going, not enough to make me think. DO NOT ANALYZE. The goal is to just make a couple notes and casually stimulate the brain. If you’re thinking, “Oh that’s cool,” or, “DAMN! What an idea!,” that’s perfect. If you’re thinking, “Okay, so they put the semi-colon there, aligned 3 points where the slowly got more ridiculous, and ate a ham and cheese sandwich from Subway,” then you went overboard. It’s helpful if you’re truly engaged, but terrible if you’re suddenly paralyzed and unable to write. So feel the brain power start to surge, and use it.
- Tell More Stories. People remember analogies and stories better than facts, figures and numbers. Plus, when you tell a story about something that happened to you recently, it’s infinite content. People also really love getting to know you and what you’re all about! Let them. They’ll connect with you more. If you’re constantly writing about what you think people want to hear, then you’re not writing about anything. Write from what you know, and they’ll connect to it easier.
- Write More Headlines. I have a confession: I write my headlines first. Some people are in this camp, some are in the Write Content First camp. I like writing headlines first because it leads to a very focused post with unlimited opportunities to make it awesome. The argument for writing the content first might be that the headline might make it too narrow, and that it might evolve into something else later feels more like a creative writing exercise to me. If I were writing a poem or a song or maybe even a fiction piece, I could see myself just writing, then adding in an appropriate title. But in the world of online marketing and blogging, I find it easier to come up with the title then write content. I can write a lot of headlines, and I can use a formula to make it shareable, but I can’t write infinite untitled posts. (Note: If you think that’s conformist or that I value quantity over quality, I don’t. I value consistency and never stopping the hustle over taking too long of a break).
- Stand or Squat, Don’t Sit. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find sitting in a chair for hours on end very comfortable. And if you’re uncomfortable, you won’t write well. I squat in my chair and let my legs support my weight, rather than my ass. This protects my back, lets me work a lot, and I don’t have to feel my legs go to sleep every time I sit or stand too much. I work out a lot and can walk forever, but standing in one place is uncomfortable and hardly gets my blood flowing. Great for posture, though. The keywords in this are: comfortable ie. state of mind, and not uncomfortable ie. preserving your health.
- Get Feedback. My favourite type of feedback my audience. If I don’t get a lot of views or responses, that’s the best feedback I can get. That says to me, “Haha, I gotta do more. Step up your game, Kris!” If it doesn’t generate a lot of sales, it makes me curious about what went wrong. Peers and mentors are obvious VERY valuable, but I trust myself enough to know when and where I went wrong. This is a very Warren Buffett concept because he’s history’s greatest investor and only seeks himself for advice, and obviously he reads a lot and so do I, which means we’re constantly learning from outside sources. My point is that once you hit a certain point, you know what you’re doing. You know when you don’t do a lay-up properly or you don’t stop at a stop sign. If there’s a level above you that you haven’t hit yet, or you can’t find the solution, you can still refer to peers or mentors. But, dude… You know what you’re doing. Just do it. You don’t need other peoples’ reassurance. You’ve done it before, so just do it again. Keep writing. Form more sentences. Take the responses and turn that into usable knowledge for your next sentence.
- Write Until You’re Satisfied, Not When The Job Is “Done”.Sometimes the job is technically done and you’re waiting for feedback from your boss or your client or whomever. But that’s not when the creative job is done… I learned this when I did some logo design for a business friend of mine. I helped him with his branding, he gave me a testimonial. Your best work is going to come out of wanting to do your best work, rather than what is asked of you. The client’s going to want what they want, but at the end of the day, if you’ve got more in the tank that’ll make the piece phenomenal then you’re not really giving them what they want. Budget and time restrictions exempt.
- Just “Ship”. This is a Seth Godin idea. Basically he says nothing will be perfect, so when it’s good, just send it out there. “But, Kris, doesn’t this directly contradict what you just said?” No. It does not. If you’re creating something like a piece of software, then it’s something that needs multiple iterations that will be used by tons of people. A book or a song or a blog post can be imperfect, but still usable. The point is to put things into the world, rather than delaying results, when right now it’s perfect as it is. As creative types, we tend to get caught up in our heads a lot. Well, just because it exists in your head doesn’t mean that it’s worth anything. Just Ship means get results. It’s putting your ideas under scrutiny rather than keeping them under wraps. Once the outline and basic functions of the software are done, the first version is released. Then they slowly update it to make it better. Take that approach, rather than the “one and done” approach. Your first punch is rarely a knockout.Pro Tip: Experience, practice, and proper technique are the best ways to get a knockout. That still takes time to build skill, or a lot of help and feedback from someone smarter than you, maybe a little luck/serendipity and you’ve got a formula for success.
- Develop A Bad Habit. Not all habits are created equal. And good habits aren’t necessarily as good as they claim to be. Some bad habits lead to chance opportunities to learn new things. As long as they’re not life threatening, they’re a good chance to unwind or learn. Note: I said badhabits, not stupid habits. If I put a semi;colon in the middle of a word every time I wrote, that’s just a stupid habit (watch this become a recurring joke now). Things that lead to ineffectiveness are poison. Things that are poisonous can be effective, though. Some people drink, some people smoke, some people drink a lot of cherry Coke. Personally I’m a cheesecake fiend and stay away from foods that inflame my joints. You don’t need (or should, or should want) to have this bad habit 24/7. It should be a once a week or once a month thing (think Cheat Day). During this cheat day, you can do what you want. Let yourself write a dirty story if you want to, or challenge yourself to write in the voice of Ace Ventura. Or learn something from eating the cheesecake like how it makes you feel after you’ve been eating a ketogenic diet (it’s a real thing) all week long. What you do 90% of the time will overpower what you do 10% of the time.
- Love Boredom. To some people, maybe you, writing is a boring task. If you’re a professional writer, however, that’s a sign you’re either writing the wrong things or you’re in the wrong profession. In any case, you have to love the boredom. At night, when you have too much time to think, that’s a perfect time to write. But it’s inconvenient for living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. If you’re like me half the time and you’re like, “Fuck that, I’ll sleep when I want, right now I’ve got the juice!,” then keep going, sleep later. But if you’re a regular person and want to follow a consistent system, which is me the other half of the time, then you’re going to need to love being bored. You’ve gotta clock in, treat it like a job, let your mind wander, but stay on task… And LOVE it. Love it more than you love rum raisin ice cream on a hot summer day. You’ve gotta love it more than you love partying with your friends. You’ve gotta love it more than piña coladas at the beach or snowboarding in Spiderman spandex. Whatever your vice is, your voice has to take priority. We all need breaks, I get that, we all aren’t into the asymmetrical work/life balance. But if you’re committed to being the best, it takes a level of dedication that seems insane to most people. Every minute that you can dedicate to your hustle is gold rushing into your pocket (or your brain, or your relationships, whatever your hustle is). Even Gary Vee’s biggest advice to himself at 21 would be to “hook up with more chicks”. He’d still be at the same place, almost, but would’ve had a little more fun. The point remains, though, that time always moves forward — you don’t get a do-over. You have enough time to do what’s important in life, and any other moment is pretty useless.
- Know Your Role. Whew! Hope you’re still here with me. My final piece of writer’s-block-destroying wisdom is to be more self-aware. Self-awareness and execution are everything. Some people know flat-out who they are, what they’re good at, what they represent. Some people, like me, have tried a ton of things they enjoyed and can’t seem to pin downexactly what they like at first. It took me about 6 years to figure out I’m good at the following things: writing, dancing, fighting, thinking and being self aware. I explained this concept and a couple others to a girl in Calgary (who assumed I was a student at University of Calgary: long story short, I’m in a project called “Students of U of C” now hehehe… Not a student btw). Knowing Your role implies self-awareness. That means you have to know A. What You’re Good At and B. What Gives You Energy. When you can fill those two criteria, you’ve hit the jackpot. Just keep doing those things over and over and you’ll be very successful. When you operate in those two criteria, you enter your “Genius Zone”. Now, to get to the point where you’re seeing returns from your Genius Zone, you need consistency and practice. The best way to do this is to do a 67+ day challenge to build up habits. But if you’re in a place where you’re stuck in a job, beat down by life and depressed, or doing something you’re delusionally obsessed with something (stuff you suck at) then it might be a little tough. You might be able to mentally inhabit a state of mind for a little while, but if you don’t keep it up your habits won’t be trained. In the end, your habits are what bring you success. So you have to go “Principle Over Feelings.” Even if you don’t feel like it, even if you’re still in the mindset of a complaining, hateful person but wanna be loving, even if you’ve partying all night and aren’t in the right state of mind to write, even if you’ve been writing for other people all day and you’re sick and tired of it — you need to do something that’ll build you up. Your role is to be a writer, so write. When it’s time to be a loving father or mother, then be that. But when you’re one place, don’t be somewhere else mentally. Be in the same place mentally and physically, in thought and in habit.
Bonus: The Ability To Switch Roles Quickly, Cleanly, and Effectively.Once you can be a parent when you’re, a hotel manager when you’re at work, a blogger when you’re at the laptop, a student in the classroom, a tiger in the bedroom ;), and the awesome one when you’re chillin’ with your friends — you’ve mastered your life. Enjoy it.
This is where I’m ending the post. I believe I’ve used up my daily quota of words. But I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post, and if you liked it, then share it with a friend! It would mean a lot to me, and I’m sure it’d make you their f’ing hero.
Thanks for reading.
In this video I talk about my friend who sells door to door, his millionaire customers, our poor friend, and how the only proven way to consistently become rich.