Dan Brown’s Secret to Overcoming Writer’s Block and Solving Plot Challenges

August 5, 2010

Bestselling author, Dan Brown (Da Vinci Code, Lost Symbol), uses inversion therapy to help solve plot problems and overcome writer’s block by hanging upside down in gravity boots. He claims this method helps shift his entire perspective. [Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Brown]

Makes sense. Einstein once said, “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” Shifting your perspective can help shift your level of thinking. This approach applies not only to writing but many other areas including business, science, relationship and socioeconomic problems.

Thought for the day:

What are some ways you can shift your perspective in order to shift your level of thinking to help solve a problem? Make a list. For example, if you always hold strategy meetings in a work setting, maybe holding a meeting in a sailboat or castle could help shift perspective.

Looking for more ways to get over writer’s block? Here are some additional tips from one of my previous blog posts: http://bit.ly/cRejP2

To your writing success,

Sharif Khan

Freelance Writer, Consultant

Author of “Psychology of the Hero Soul”

(Reader’s Digest, USA Today, Toronto Sun)


The Secret to Writing Success

May 19, 2010

 

If you’re like me, I get really skeptical when I hear some guru claiming to have a silver bullet to achieving lasting success, be it a magic pill, number, formula, or mantra. However, there is one success formula or ‘magic number’ if you will, that I can wholeheartedly recommend: 10000.

‘10000?’ you ask. Yes, 10000. 10,000 hours to be precise. That’s the magic number for success.

According to Canadian journalist, author, and pop sociologist, Malcolm Gladwell, who has studied the common denominators shared by successful people around the world, you need to invest 10,000 hours practicing your craft to reach a level of professional success.

He goes on to cite examples such as Bill Gates, who practiced 10,000 hours of computer programming since high school before becoming a mega mogul. Even Gladwell asserts that he spent 10,000 hours of practice at The American Spectator and Washington Post, putting in about 20 hours work a week for a period of 10 years before becoming a successful author.

I decided to validate this theory in my hometown of Toronto by asking Aurora Award-Winning Science Fiction author, Karl Schroeder about Gladwell’s “10,000-Hour Rule” at a short story workshop he was hosting. He admitted, yes, that was about the time it took for him to reach professional success in his field as a sci-fi writer.

If you were to spend just 2 hours a day practicing your craft (writing, editing, polishing, rewriting), you’d reach a professional level of success in your field in about 14 years. Given the fact that (according to Nielsen Media Research) the average American spends 5 hours a day watching television, investing 2 hours a day in your dream vocation should not be all that difficult to do.

Now, if you were to push yourself and simply work an additional hour a day (that’s 3 hours a day) notice what a difference your minimal effort would make over time. 3 hours a day would get you to your 10,000 hour mark in about 9 years. Subtract 9 years from 14 years and you would save yourself 5 years of wasted time working on stuff that you either detested or were not fully
passionate about to begin with!

I think you see where I’m going with this. It takes a decade or more to become an overnight success. Put in your 10,000 hours of practice. Start now, thank me later.

Sharif Khan

http://www.HeroSoul.com

Writer, Author of “Psychology of the Hero Soul”
An inspirational book on awakening the hero within
(As mentioned in Reader’s Digest, USA Today, Toronto Sun)


Hemingway on Writing: The First Draft

July 14, 2009

Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning American novelist, Ernest Hemingway, once quipped, “The first draft of anything is shit.” He also wrote, “The shortest answer is doing the thing.”

Combine the two statements, and you have a recipe for writing production and quality work.

Many writers experience writer’s block because they get stuck on the notion of producing a ‘masterpiece’ on the first go. This kind of attitude blocks creativity and stalls many writing careers. The reality is that most writing professionals will go through several drafts before producing first-rate work.

The best strategy is ‘doing the thing.’ Dive in and start writing! Get the story and creative ideas out on paper, then worry about polishing and editing to your content.

Sharif Khan

http://www.herosoul.com

Freelance Writer, Copywriter, Consultant

Author of “Psychology of the Hero Soul”

(As mentioned in Reader’s Digest, USA Today, Toronto Sun)


Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing

June 30, 2009

Legendary crime writer and novelist, Elmore Leonard, has shared some excellent writing tips in the New York Times’ Writers on Writing series: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/16/arts/writers-writing-easy-adverbs-exclamation-points-especially-hooptedoodle.html

Writing tip for the day: if you want to become a better writer, get into the habit of writing every day!

To your writing successs,

Sharif Khan

http://www.herosoul.com

Writer, Consultant, Author


Overcoming Writer’s Block

August 30, 2008

Have you been bitten by the dreaded ‘writer’s block’ bug? Do you find yourself staring dumbly at a blank page not knowing what to write next? Not to worry! You are not alone.

Here are some suggestions for you that have worked well for me:

Free flow writing nonstop for about 15 plus minutes on any topic related to the story I’m writing helps me overcome writer’s block. The trick is to keep writing nonstop without pausing to edit or think.

Another technique that helps me is reviewing all my story notes before going to bed and asking my mind to ‘work on it’ while I sleep. The first thing I do upon waking is start writing! It’s like a dam of creative energy building up overnight that needs to be released.

Happy Writing!

Sharif Khan
http://www.herosoul.com

Freelance Writer, Consultant
Author of “Psychology of the Hero Soul”


Learning from the Masters

July 18, 2008

If you want to improve the overall quality and form of your writing, try the modeling approach.

Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, if a certain chapter by a renowned author really makes a first class impression on you in terms of great writing, I would recommend copying that chapter in longhand and re-writing it at least 6 to 8 times. To reinforce the sound of quality writing, I would also read that chapter out loud a few times.

This modeling technique will impress upon your mind, both at the conscious and subconscious level, an overall feeling and capacity for quality writing.

Obviously, you will want to retain your own voice and style, so I wouldn’t recommend doing too many of these exercises in the middle of a major writing project. However, it’s a great technique to use in between projects to learn the rhythms of moving language and sharpen your acumen for quality writing.

Sharif Khan
http://www.herosoul.com
Freelance Writer, Book Consultant
Author of “Psychology of the Hero Soul”
An inspirational leadership book on awakening the hero within
(As mentioned in USA Today, Reader’s Digest, Toronto Sun)


Not so secret formula for writing success:

March 9, 2008

The late great Canadian literary legend, Pierre Berton, once remarked that the formula for writing success was to repeat the following process: 

“Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Re-write, re-write, re-write.”

This is the most truthful and concise formula for writing success I’ve ever heard!

To your writing success,

Sharif Khan

http://www.HeroSoul.com

Freelance Writer, Consultant, Speaker

Author of “Psychology of the Hero Soul”

An inspirational leadership book on awakening the hero within

(As mentioned in Reader’s Digest, USA Today, Toronto Sun)


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