Have you ever needed to plan something – a menu, a shopping list, a to-do list but gotten stuck as soon as you sat down? Like you knew you needed to write this thing, this list, but you just couldn’t get started?
Here’s a technique that can almost magically get you “unstuck” and on your way.
I have a child who is allergic to pencils.
When asked to write something, he often melts into a puddle on the floor. Pencils, pens and paper can send him into a panic. It’s not the mechanics of penmanship. This child has lovely handwriting and is perfectly capable of forming letters and writing a few sentences but the thought of composing them and putting them down on paper is too much for him to bear. He cannot handle a blank piece of paper.
So how do we deal with this hurdle, this pencil allergy?
Simple – we switch to “Fill-in-the-blank.”
What is “Fill-in-the-blank”?
“Fill-in-the-blank” is where I take his writing assignment and break it down into a list or a chart. I give him the headings and maybe draw a few lines to mark out the columns. Once he has his chart, his pencil is magically unfrozen and is able to write. Miraculous! It’s such a simple trick but it does wonders for his schoolwork and both our frustration levels.
Why is “Fill-in-the-blank” important for you?
My son isn’t the only one who gets stuck when faced with a blank page. This fear just goes by other names – writer’s block or perhaps procrastination. Have you ever tried to make a weekly menu and suddenly forgotten every favorite meal you’ve ever cooked? Or maybe you’ve tried to come up with some Christmas gift ideas and drawn a mental blank. This is the same problem. You just need a little structure to get you started.
Why does “Fill-in-the-blank” work to get you unstuck?
This little technique is so powerful because your brain craves structure. Once it has that structure, it can relax and come up with ideas to plug in. An open blank is almost as if there is tension that you have to resolve, an incomplete thought. You’ll automatically find yourself thinking of ways to complete it. Suddenly you will be able to write that report, come up with the menu plan, or send that thank you note.
Don’t wait for the ideas to come.
Start with the structure, the “blanks.” These blanks will surprise you at their power to wake up your brain and get your creative juices flowing.
How do I create this structure?
A simple chart sketched out in pencil on a piece of scrap paper is all you may need to get moving. Or, grab one of the millions of free printables on Pinterest. If you are a very visual person, grab some colored pencils and label your headings in color. A quick form typed up on the computer with an attractive font may be enticing to some.
Don’t let your own pencil allergy keep you stuck looking at a blank page.
Try “fill-in-the-blank” next time you need to write something and watch the words fly onto the page.