27 Comments
Sep 13, 2023Liked by Ijeoma Oluo

white on white crime *chef's kiss*

Expand full comment
Sep 13, 2023Liked by Ijeoma Oluo

Right?! I'm going to start using "white male on white female crime" more often.

Expand full comment
Sep 13, 2023Liked by Ijeoma Oluo

I recommend reading one’s own prior writing. It’s helpful to hear our own writing voice and the things we have to say and how we have to say them. I’m always impressed by myself and eager to get back into the conversation with my own (an other’s) thoughts.

Expand full comment

Very true. Did this just a while ago and realized how mechanical my writing has become. I started asking myself if I was even the same person who wrote something so fun compared to how dark everything is now 😂😂😂

All in all, this is a pretty good advice. It really works

Expand full comment
Sep 13, 2023Liked by Ijeoma Oluo

The laundry metaphor really hit me and I'm going to find myself this.

I cultivate pondering time or boredom, I pretend I'm a tween between school and dinner when I've read all the books in the house, hen I didn't have TV, and it was pre cell phone internet age of dinosaurs, and was the time my brain cycled on ideas and thoughts that had been at the periphery. I'd look at the celing and ponder.

Expand full comment
founding

Love this post and love the picture of yourself on the post! Why I love it is because it gives definit steps to unblock your writing and it is 😁

Expand full comment
Sep 13, 2023Liked by Ijeoma Oluo

You are an amazing writer and communicator - the way you share your challenges, struggles, and successes in such a personal way and then just toss in those little humor bits - such a joy to receive your newsletters!

Expand full comment

The best thing for me when I'm really, really stuck is to go for a walk, preferably in the woods where I can't see people or houses and can't hear cars. Extra credit if I don't listen to anything, which in my case means NO PODCASTS. I have to walk for a good while. Just like muscles, my brain needs to warm up. Just around the time that my joints start feeling more mobile and less like those of a 110-year old lady my thoughts just start to caper about. If I were really smart I would probably use a voice memo at that point, because I have the most brilliant ideas when I'm moving and I only can call up half of them once I'm sitting again, but I have yet to build out that infrastructure and habit. Still, if I put in a good couple of miles, or 45 mins to an hour, then I usually have SOMETHING I want to write down by the time I'm done. It might not be the thing I'm *supposed* to be writing, but something, as you say, is sometimes plenty.

Expand full comment
founding
Sep 13, 2023Liked by Ijeoma Oluo

This is amazing. I feel as if you are reading my inner soul. Thanks for making me laugh, in a useful and important way.

Expand full comment
Sep 13, 2023Liked by Ijeoma Oluo

That helped me as well. I have two books that are still in the doodle-on-paper stage. I did buy a newfangled pen! Will that ever count?

Expand full comment

buying a new pen always helps.*

*I don't have a problem. I can quit anytime I want!

lol seriously. it's how I celebrate milestones, buying a new pen. especially a fancy one!

Expand full comment

I love this advice and the picture is perfect...totally captures the feeling I have too. I think of reading as writing adjacent so I am still working because I am learning. Thanks for all of this.

Expand full comment
Sep 13, 2023Liked by Ijeoma Oluo

Omg, I laughed out loud so many times reading this one. Thank you for that. Re: "You're not the boss of me" (same), I've started trying out the lens of "demand avoidance." A friend suggested I try ways of framing things that make them less of a "demand." I think it's helping a bit.

Example: I've stopped trying to force myself to walk a certain distance/number of times per week, and instead think about how the sun will feel or the clouds will look or the creatures/plants I might see. I think about the ways it might surprise or delight me that I by definition can't anticipate.

Expand full comment

Such good ideas. Thanks!

I also sometimes just go for a walk—with no audiobook or podcast. Pretty soon the words start showing up in my brain and when I get back to the computer I have something. (When I force myself to stay at the computer, I am able to fritter away an entire day and have nothing).

The dog also approves of the walking strategy, but he is biased.

Expand full comment
Sep 13, 2023Liked by Ijeoma Oluo

I needed this today! Thank you!

I had a 6 week sabbatical which retrained my creative brain, but now that I'm back at work I want to build better systems to keep those words and thoughts available more often. These are great tips. Thank you!

Expand full comment
Sep 13, 2023Liked by Ijeoma Oluo

ALSO the writing by hand is huge. I have a notebook I carry with me, especially when traveling. The ideas eventually get typed up and cleaned up, but I even find the words are better/more lyrical or in my voice when hand written vs. typed.

Expand full comment

this is such incredibly wise and kind advice!

Expand full comment

Love the idea of an idea partner!

Expand full comment

So very helpful, thank you! Especially the bit about doing something writing-adjacent. We often forget how important those steps are to our writing process.

Expand full comment

This is great and so helpful! As a person who is just barely venturing into writing a book I am bookmarking this post for when it gets hard and to remind myself that it's just part of the process!

Expand full comment