How To: Cure the Block

I have writer’s block today. I almost never have writer’s block. My ideas and thoughts usually flow naturally. For the most part, writing an article just comes second nature.

But, today is different for some reason. I’m going to diagnose my problem, treat it (by finishing this article) and, hopefully, sleep well tonight, knowing that I wrote something half decent.

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Here goes:

A) Increase Blood Flow

When I wrote that first part of the post, it was early in the morning. Now, as I am writing this, I feel more at ease. Why?

I just finished an intense workout routine. I feel all the blood flowing through my body. Exercise is effective at getting your blood moving through your brain and getting those creative juices flowing.

Even something moderate. For me it was intense, but something as simple as a walk outside will clear your head for those creative juices.

B) Surround Yourself with Different Surroundings

Leave your mundane writing environment and start somewhere new. In most cases, I write my articles in my room, most of the time in my underwear (that’s an unwanted image).

Sometimes, I feel like I have no inspiration to write. Similar to the previous point, walking outside helps with that. Surrounding yourself with fresh air and new environments will produce new ideas.

C) Use Stimulants

I’m not a fan of drugs, as most of you know. By stimulants, I mean something that perks you up. For me, I use tea.

Daily teas are part of my routine because it gives me a little peak of energy. Similarly, you can use coffee as a substitute.

I can’t do coffee anymore. I had a serious addiction and decided to quit cold turkey. Now, the smell of coffee makes me gag. In my opinion, tea is just as effective without the after-jitters.

D) Read

I think reading can solve most of your problems. For example, after reading this article, you will overcome your writer’s block. If I’m stuck, I will read one chapter from three different books.

I read one chapter from a self-help book, one from the fiction category and one from any science category (most of the time, it’s psychology).

Reading three different chapters from three topics allows my brain to have idea sex. I mix all three different thoughts together. You can always combine ideas from different topics.

This fresh perspective will give you something to write about.

E) Make an Outline

If you have different topics already in mind, write a rough sketch of it. Figure out your main topics and make points. Make these points as simple as possible.

Your goal here is to write as many points as possible. Don’t worry about good and bad points or expanding on anything. Write enough to jog your memory later. Once you’ve compiled a list, go back and revise.

Cut out all the fat.

F) Just Start

Stop thinking about the writer’s block and just start with something. It can be nonsensical garbage, but just start writing.

“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop” – Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)

Sometimes all your brain needs is to put down some words. The more you get down, the easier it will be to continue.

G) Write Daily

Writer’s block doesn’t affect me as much as it first used to. I think the main reason is because I write everyday, even at a minimal capacity.

In the barest of bones, writing is a skill. Like any skill, the only way to improve is through dedicated practice (more on skills here). Dedicated practice hones my ability to write.

I looked at my first post (check it out here) and it pales in comparison to my recent works. I am improving, albeit slightly. These slight improvements continue to stack until writer’s block is basically nonexistent.

There you have it. I have completed my article. I feel like I can sleep well tonight. I think I’ve written a winner here.

Remember, don’t force anything. If you have insomnia, you can’t force yourself to sleep. If you are truly stuck, I implore you to try out the previous techniques. They have helped me in the past and even through this current block.

How do you overcome the dreaded block? Did any of these tips help you? Please comment below. My readers and I value your input. Thank you in advance.

Be bold, be free, and love on.

3 Skills To Improve Your Life

The previous post outlined that learning skills are important for success. I whole-heartedly believe that. However, some skills are significantly more valuable than others.

Some skills are rated higher than others. Some skills are used more often than others. In this post, I’d like to outline three of, what I think are, the most valuable skills to improve your life.

Building Skills

1) Public Speaking 

The majority of people have serious anxieties speaking to large groups. The entire process is intimidating. What if they boo? What if they laugh at you, instead of with you?

The majority of people avoid public speaking at all costs, but I feel it is an important skill to learn and improve. Firstly, if you can speak well in public, you are set above the majority of the population (that’s a HUGE advantage).

Try joining a Toastmaster’s program. They are a large public speaking group that I found extremely helpful. I had a post on public speaking earlier in my writing ‘career’ about improving public speaking.

2) Accounting

Basic accounting skills are so important as an ‘adult.’ You need to keep track of your money on a basic spreadsheet (at the very least).

Every year, during tax season I see my friends scramble to H&R Block to get their taxes done. They have no idea if they’re getting the correct return or that they are overspending for something that can be easily done in your underwear.

If you do not know basic accounting, how are you supposed to verify accounting agencies? I don’t feel comfortable trusting anyone (let alone a large corporation) with my money.

Basic accounting skills can be learned easily with a two day course (that most places offer for free) and through YouTube. Lastly, TurboTax (these companies seriously need to pay me for these endorsements) is an excellent resource for filing taxes in your underwear.

C) Conversation

“Wait a minute, Leroy. Conversation is the same as public speaking.”

I would disagree. Public speaking is more geared to groups. Conversation is for the one-on-one interaction. Too many people are buried in their cellphones and social media.

People have forgotten the lost art of conversation and shudder at the thought of having any human interaction. Most people just talk, which is not the same as conversation.

Conversationalists have learned techniques that are surprisingly nonobvious to most people. The core secret to conversations is introducing yourself and asking questions until you find mutual interests.

Most people want to talk about themselves. This is not a bad trait. In fact, it makes the conversation skill surprising easy to grasp. Ask questions and allow the recipient to answer.

Find common ground and establish a relationship.

Conversations are important to befriend, plan, exchange information, persuade, seduce (to have sex), entertain and form lasting relationships. Too few people have a grasp on strong conversational skills.

Just remember to smile, ask questions, and allow the stranger to talk. Everyone likes to talk about his or her life, and everyone appreciates a sympathetic listener.

Out of fear for making this post too long, I will end the skills here. There are so many more important skills to improve on. If you have any valuable skills, leave a comment below and I will write another article for a future piece.

Be bold, be free, and love on.

One Habit That Will Change Your Life

If I told you the simple act of making breakfast made me who I am today, you probably wouldn’t believe me.

But it’s true.

Let’s hop in my time machine and go back nine months for a moment.

I’m depressed. I have no energy and no motivation. I usually never show any negativity at work but my coworkers can sense something is off. I’m not my normal self at all.

She used to take care of me but she is gone now and I feel like my life is falling apart. I barely wake up in time for work every morning and I can’t focus on anything.

My stomach is killing me. My body hates me. I don’t know how to cook anything so I’ll eat something that can barely be considered food once a day.

I have no plans for my future so thinking ahead hurts. Thinking back doesn’t provide any solace either. But all I can feel is my stomach.

I decide that no matter what the future holds, I need to care of myself right now. I need to start eating or I’ll rot away from the inside. I decided to make sure I ate before work the next morning.

Little did I know that I had found my keystone habit.

A keystone habit is one habit that has the power to create a chain reaction, causing a snowball effect that changes other habits as it grows.

Eating breakfast was my keystone habit. Your keystone habit might be quitting drinking or smoking, going to the gym, writing in a journal every night, getting up early or even reading.

By the end of this post you will know the three things to look for and expect from a keystone habit.
Let’s do it!

1) A keystone habit offers the feeling of small, reoccurring wins.

Everyone loves a win. It feels good. Imagine getting a win everyday, or five, or ten!

Every time I ate something in the morning it was a win for me. I would think about how I accomplished my goal before bed that night.

Having this sense of regular small wins can snowball and cause you to believe you can achieve those bigger wins. Maybe I could learn how to cook and eat healthy?

If you are trying to quit smoking everyday that you don’t smoke, is a win. If you don’t like the cold turkey method, everyday that you don’t go past a certain number of cigarettes it is a win.

Better yet, every three hour period that you don’t have a smoke is a win.

Set small, very achievable goals and allow yourself to get as many wins as possible.

Make sure you are congratulating yourself on these accomplishments!

With a hundred small victories at your back, you will not only believe that the major victories are possible, they will feel inevitable.
Which brings us to our next point.

2) A Keystone habit will snowball your confidence and energy.

When you integrate or change a keystone habit, you are improving something that is deeply meaningful to yourself. Pick something that you care about.

If you have been trying to quit smoking, go to the gym, or eat healthy for years and now you can see real tangible progress toward your goal, you will feel good about it.
I guarantee it.

When I started eating breakfast, I felt great. Not just because my stomach was no longer at war with me, but because I was starting to believe that I could change my life in a meaningful way.

With reoccurring small wins and your newly found confidence and energy, you come to point three.

This is where you start to see major changes in all areas of your life.

3) A keystone habit acts as soil from which other habits grow.

In the beginning I just wanted to eat every morning. I was at war with every part of myself and I wanted a truce with my stomach at the very least.

At first I would just eat a banana, but after a while I wanted something bigger so I would wake up a little earlier and make scrambled eggs.

I was terrible at cooking so I started watching Gordon Ramsay YouTube videos while I ate.
Ps: I am NOT a F**king donkey, Ramsay!

Once I learned how to make a half decent breakfast I realized that I loved learning and being creative in the morning.

I was now excited to wake up every morning. This lead to researching how to make myself an early riser naturally without effort.

These were new habits naturally growing from within me.

We all need a catalyst to change our lives, but it doesn’t have to be a near death experience.

The simple habit of eating something every morning gave me small wins, which lead to confidence and excitement, which lead to a whole spring of new habits I never thought I could integrate into my life.

I am a completely different person than I was nine months ago. It’s funny that I write this at the nine month mark because I do feel like I am reborn.

I am begging you, don’t try to change your whole life at once. Change one deeply meaningful thing about yourself.

Change one thing you do daily, and you’ll change your whole life.

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The Purpose

When I was kid, I wanted to be a wrestler. I wasn’t a hardcore wrestling fan but the few times I watched it, it interested me. I wanted to fly off the top rope and elbow drop someone. I wanted to choke slam somebody. I wanted to power-bomb someone (A little part still wants to).

I was a violent kid.

My purpose changed multiple times. I wanted to be a pilot, engineer, firefighter, and police officer. I didn’t give up, but instead, I merely lost interest. Or maybe I wasn’t good at it, I’m not too sure.

“Whenever you leave behind a failure, you’re doing good. If you think everything you’ve done is great, you’re probably dumb.” -Louis C.K.

If you’re like me, maybe you haven’t discovered what you good at. The law of nature states that you have one thing that you can do better than everyone else. I think that is BS.

I think that it just takes time, dedication, and love. Purpose can be developed for nearly anything you want to achieve.

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You don’t need a Singular Purpose 

When we are younger, we are told to eat breakfast, wash behind our ears, go to school and learn, sleep, and do it all over again. I internalized that. I thought that was my sole purpose. I continue to do it, even now, as I am stuck in the formal institution of university.

I think I got too wrapped up in one thing. I focused on one purpose too much and continued to lose interest. Here’s the problem: We don’t just have one passion or love in life.

The universe wants us to have fun doing more than one thing in life. That’s how you learn. You don’t need only one purpose in life. You have maybe 500 or so.

Divide your mental on energy on a number of different things. You don’t just have to pick one. But then, you say, “How will I ever be the best?”

The 1000-Hour Rule

This is extremely different from the 10,000-hour rule, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell. It basically states that in order to be an expert at something, you must dedicate 10,000 hours of practice to master a field.

But 10,000 hours takes anywhere from 5-30 years of your life. I don’t have that much time to dedicate solely to one thing. Instead, practice the 1000 hour rule.

If you practice anything for 1000 hours and make sure its dedicated practice then you will still be among the best in the world. With the first 1000 hours, you experience a steep learning curve. The hours that follow is spent fine-tuning and honing the subtleties.

But here’s the thing. No one can tell the difference and no one cares. The experts appreciate the 10,000-hour man, but the general population cannot tell the difference in the subtleties. You can appear to be the best in world just by putting in 1000 hours.

As I got older, my purpose changed. Drifted to multiple other avenues and I tried my hand in different things. I wasn’t very good at any of them. Now, I am trying writing and being creative with YouTube.

I think I am pretty good at it. I am slowly chipping away at the 1,000 hours, slowing honing my craft. Maybe I will stop writing and being creative. Maybe I will pick up something completely different like wine tasting or Bee-Keeping and become the best at that.

Regardless of the craft, I choose, I know that there are others out there waiting for me to discover. I implore you, discover something you enjoy and pursue it. If you lose interest, that is okay. Find the other 499.

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The Power of Mistakes

Recently, I was terrified of losing my job. I did something bad and I had terrible thoughts racing through my head.

“How would I pay my bills? What am I going to do without money? How the hell am I supposed to survive? No one is hiring anymore.”

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. Do I regret them? No. Definitely not. My mistakes have made me who I am. They have made me stronger, better, and faster. I am pretty much the three million dollar man, minus the three million dollars.

With every mistake that I make, I discover more about myself. About who I am, my limits, capabilities, and what I can and cannot do. They help me become a more compassionate and tolerant person, not only to others, but also with myself.

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Mistakes Are ALRIGHT.

You can learn valuable life lessons from every mistake. Do not let that mistake go in vain. Learn, progress and strive for something better.

I will never make the same mistake at work again. I cannot afford to. I do not want to relive that brief moment, where I had fears of losing my livelihood.

There is so much we can learn from our mistakes, and the moment we see them as lessons rather than mistakes, we will no longer possess this irrational fear of encountering them.

“To Err is Human” – Alexander Pope

Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are. They are integral to building a better you.

Don’t Be Afraid of Mistakes

It is interesting that mistakes are something that everyone does, but most people are afraid of them. They are afraid of failing, screwing up or disappointing someone. Sometimes, I am afraid.

But, rise above it. You have to. No, you need to. If you play it safe, stay in your comfort zone, your life will be a full basket of regrets. You will have more regrets about the things you did not do rather than the things you did do, you will regret not making more mistakes.

When I started working out, I was timid. I was afraid of what people might think.

“Who is this fat kid? What is he trying to do? He looks so stupid right now.”

I could not get over the hump of the judgmental stares. I limited myself to certain activities to avoid ridicule. I was afraid of trying new things because people would laugh if I made mistakes.

In most cases, your mistakes only matter to you. In the brevity of human life, mistakes do not matter.

One thing I learned from working out is that people are generally self-absorbed and not looking (or even caring) about you. Those stares were all in my head. I was self-conscious and let the fear of making mistakes hinder my abilities.

Failure is Necessary

In order to succeed, you must fail. You must fail consistently, for a long period of time. Falling flat on your face is the best motivator.

Recently, a friend and I started a YouTube channel (2HelpfulGuys). Check it you when you have a chance.

He is a great actor. I am not amazing, myself. I make the same mistakes, over and over and over again.

I cannot seem to wrap my head around certain lines. The bloopers are almost endless, as I struggle to achieve a few good takes. But making the same mistakes repeatedly, I slowly learn.

Accept the mistakes and move on.

I gain and hone the abilities, one at a time. Eventually, I will be able to limit the bloopers. I will progress and achieve my goals.

But, it has to stem from my mistakes.

DOH