A simple potion that cures my writer’s block.


But that’s useless to you. Hmm. Let me try and make this useful.

As a professional writer, I think of writing as ‘work’ — Wake up, wash up, write up is my typical routine. However, sometimes, especially when there is a lot at stake, I get what’s fancifully called the writer’s block. Basically, running out of ideas.

It is during these times that I do what I call rapid ideation, inspired by rapid prototyping from manufacturing and software development. For example, let’s say my project management system tells me that I should write for The Whole Works today and I’m out of ideas. Here’s what I’ll do:

I’ll put my laptop away and sit down with a notebook and pen. Often, in the balcony because fresh air helps. I’ll write every idea that comes to mind. This list is often ugly AF. See!

  • How to write on a leaf?

  • What pen do I use?

  • The mat I’m sitting on reminds me of the cover of Haroun and Sea of Stories. Wow, magical realism is a wonderful exercise in imagination. Is Ambai’s In a Forest, A Deer also magical realism?

  • Are you setting boundaries for yourself? — Write about discovering you had a Twitter voice.

  • Damn, I’m a terrible writer, remember writing about Happy Feet? Oh wait.

  • I’m so bad at this. What! I’ve at least 3 workable ideas. I’m getting better at this.

You see where I’m going? A lot of us fear ideation. We judge and reject our ideas without even giving them a chance. Rapid ideation takes the judgment away from this process. It treats every idea as a workable idea and voila!

(I vaguely remember reading that this is how regular brainstorming is supposed to be done. I can’t recall where or when I read it. Maybe I’m just channeling that idea here.)