Creative Block? Use the Dr. Seuss technique.


While a creative block usually comes because we simply can’t come up with any new ideas, it can also come from having too many.

The blank page is scary, not only because of what’s not there, but because of all the potential it holds.

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with the work, follow the Dr. Seuss technique.

Before writing Green Eggs and Ham, his beloved children’s book that has sold 200 million copies around the world, Theo Geisel (Dr. Seuss’s real name), had accepted a bet from his publisher, Bennett Cerf. There was only $50 on the line, but Cerf said Geisel couldn’t write an entertaining children’s book using only 50 different words.

We all know what happened. But why?

There’s a few reasons the constraint actually made Seuss more creative:

It forced him to use novel solutions. 

If you’re a photographer and don’t have a lighting setup, you think up new ways to get the shot you want.

He wasn’t distracted by options. 

When your options are limited, you don’t fall victim to choice paralysis and can focus on getting things done.

It made him think practically. 

When your canvas or toolkit changes, you have to rethink what you can actually do. This changes the conversation from “What should I do?” to “What can I do with what I have?”

5 Things We Can Learn From Groundhog Day

I read this story on a while back and watching Groundhog Day, yet again, decided to revisit this post.

Every year on Groundhog Day, along with waiting for the verdict on the length of winter from the world’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, TV stations across the country dust off the 1993 movie Groundhog Day.

Some believe that the cult-classic starring Bill Murray is a film that illustrates the concepts of Buddhism and achieving enlightenment. In the film, weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) relives the same day over and over again until he gets it right through hard work, self awareness, and sacrifice.

The movie’s writer, Danny Rubin, understands the connection to Buddhist beliefs, but says he did not design the story around any one religion. “Everybody seems to bring their own way of thinking and their own discipline to bear on the ideas within it,” Rubin says.
Regardless of your religious persuasion, here are a few universal truths for living we can all take from Groundhog Day:

1. Be kind to others. On Phil Connors’ “perfect day” he saves a child’s life, helps two women change a tire, gives a newlywed couple wrestling tickets, and completes many other good deeds. He even buys insurance from annoying salesman, Ned. Bing!

2. Try different things. If your life becomes a redundant cycle of work and sleep, there’s still time to try new things. Take up ice sculpting or learn to play piano, you never know when it will come in handy.

3. You can’t fight the weather or who you are. Ironically, Phil the weatherman tries to deny the coming blizzard because it doesn’t fit in with his life. Only when he accepts his situation does he begin to grow as a person. Work with what you have; people will love you for that.

4. To find real love work on you. Phil learns everything about his love interest Rita, down to her favorite ice cream. But what she really falls in love with is his passion for life.

5. Life is what you make it. As Rubin says, at first for Phil Connors it’s “the worst day of his life. And, by the end of the movie, we see that it’s the exact same day but somehow this is probably the best day of his life.”