Remember Bob Ross? He was that afroed painter and host of the PBS show, The Joy of Painting. His voice was mesmerizing—somehow able to lift you out of his “happy little trees” and into his “very, very free clouds.”
The most beautiful thing about Bob’s work was how he got you to believe. The way he made it look so easy and got you to think you could pick up a brush and create that very same scene in identical detail. After all, “We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents.”
But what if Bob wasn’t there? What if he wasn’t creating something for you to reproduce? What would you create on that blank canvas? Where would you even start?
Each process starts with emptiness—a blank page and a blank canvas. Each can go a million different directions. Each one starts with one small stroke, but that first stroke can be the most intimidating.
Do you find yourself paralyzed when it’s time to write a blog, an e-book, an e-mail? I promise you it doesn’t have to be as hard as you may be making it on yourself. Here’s three ways to UNparalyze your writing:
You have thoughts floating around in your head, and they sneak out everyday in your conversations with customers, colleagues, family, friends, etc. Writing’s simply capturing those thoughts before they float away. Find a dictation app (I like Dragon Dictation) or get some recording device. Then, open your mouth and start spewing your thoughts. Get it out. Don’t pre-script it. Don’t re-record it. You get one take to ramble on as much as you’d like. Say whatever you want…say it, unabashedly.
Ever heard of free writing? It’s a technique many writers use to climb over mental blocks. Basically, you pick a topic and then—in a predetermined amount of time—write everything that comes to mind. You say goodbye to grammar rules and spelling…you just put words together. And when you’re done, you walk away from it. Let it sit for a few hours or a few days before coming back to refine it. I think you’ll find it to be both ugly and beautiful. Ugly in its disorderly form and beautiful in its raw, genuine nature.
Sometimes the biggest struggle in writing isn’t the how but the what. What do you want to say? Or more importantly, what do people want to read? The answer to these questions are really all around you. Sniff through some industry blogs or publications and see what people are saying. Write a piece that takes an affirming or opposing stance on the subject. Also, dig through your inbox and find out what your customers and colleagues are asking. Then write a how-to or a Q&A blog that covers their questions. You’ll probably find the subject matters are endless.
Hopefully this’ll help you get started painting your word pictures. As Bob Ross said, “All you need to paint is a few tools, a little instruction, and a vision in your mind.”