I have no idea what to write.
No, seriously. I came up with a couple of topics for the column this time, and discarded them. I even got about two paragraphs into one of them before realizing it was terrible. I’m sitting in a hotel room in Idaho Falls, Idaho. My family and I are here for my brother-in-law’s wedding, and I’m up here in the room trying to bash out an article. Oh, don’t worry – there’s nothing important going on right now that I’m skipping out on. This was planned downtime. So, here I am.
I’m completely stuck. I have no idea what to write.
I’ve tried my hand at being a writer; a novelist, even. In fact, I have a terrible novel sitting on my hard drive that will never, ever be published. I’ve tried being a blogger. I know what writer’s block looks like… oh, yes, yes, I do.
There are times when I sit down in my studio at home, turn on the microphone and realize I have no idea what to talk about. Some shows are easy: Geek Dads Weekly “writes” itself, and Yet Another Weight Loss Show is just a recap of my dieting efforts during the week prior. But other shows that I produce? Writer’s block is real, and it translates perfectly to podcasting (much to my dismay).
Here then, are my tips for overcoming… podcaster’s block. Yeah, that’s what I’ll call it!
- Get a portable recorder if you don’t have one. Changing your location will change your state of mind and can open up the creativity. Record something outside, or at the local mall, or at a coffee shop. Something different.
- Babble. Babble into the mic like an infant. Make strange, random noises. Much like simply scribbling your pen on paper can break writer’s block, making noise can stimulate your brain and get you going in the right direction.
- Check your email. Oh, I know, this is supposedly one of those things that all the productivity gurus warn you about. Don’t check your email!!! You’ll get distracted from your task!!! Yeah, you will. And that’s not a bad thing when you’re trying to deal with a creative block. Anything you can do to make yourself think is a good thing here.
- Walk away. I mean literally, walk away from the microphone. Go outside, walk around your house or apartment building twice. Really look around; think about what you’re looking at.
- Have a drink. A nice glass of wine can do wonders for the creative soul. Remember though, we’re trying to podcast here, so drinking carries risks. The goal is to loosen up a little bit, not to drink enough that you slur your words and make it impossible to record a straight show. Also, if you’re podcasting for your employer, bringing wine to work is usually frowned upon unless you’re upper management, so be careful.
- Ask for help. Call your spouse or your significant other and tell them you’re stuck. Send an email to some friends asking for topics. Writers often won’t do this because what they’re writing is still in progress – but you’re trying to rock the mic. Turn to your audience. Ask them what kinds of things they want you to talk about. They’ll tell you.
- Do a show about how you don’t know what to talk about, then turn it into an episode listing your favorite ways to break writer’s – or podcaster’s – block.
Hey, look! I figured out what to write about!