Have you ever found yourself in an uncomfortable situation where your brain feels like a block of stale cheese? If you're a high-functioning individual like me, chances are that you've got a million different tasks at hand and not enough RAM to process all of them at once.
So, how do you move past this stubborn blockade that freezes your ability to think and form cohesive thoughts? I'm not talking about writing strictly speaking. Students, teachers, professionals, and just about any other human being come to a standstill at some point.
Sometimes, it helps to just pen down your thoughts. But what do you do when your mind is completely overwhelmed and you can't even do that? Writer's block is a real pain in the arse and impossibly difficult to get past.
Instruments that empower the mind
When I was in college, I used to rely on mixed mediums to get my brain juices flowing. Being caffeinated isn't always enough. Even if you have a good idea about what you're working on, it can be really hard to arrange your thoughts and find a proper structure. Back then, my weapons of choice consisted of my battered old laptop, a fantastic fountain pen, and heaps of notebooks.
The peripherals we use to translate our ideas into the written word greatly influence our ability and efficiency to communicate. Why do you think mechanical keyboards are so popular? Whether it's the satisfying clickity-clack of heavy keys or the smooth flow of ink from a nib, all these instruments help us accomplish the same thing essentially.
Now that almost every aspect of writing has been digitalized, the need to have the perfect tool is imperative. We need a modern version of jotting down rough notes on a corner of some page. Typing on a keyboard doesn't always deliver this effect, be it a physical or a mechanical one.
In my search for the perfect thinking aid, I experimented with tablets, keyboards, styli, and e-paper tablets that support writing input. My favorite tool for arranging thoughts and forming basic ideas was a surprising one.
Thinking out loud
A few months ago, there came a time when I was caught between a million projects. Dozens of writing assignments and a clouded mind pair horribly with anguish and looming deadlines. A particularly difficult editorial had me stumped. No amount of pens, pencils, styli, or fancy keyboards could get my brain going.
Desperate to finish the task at hand no matter what, I started chitchatting with my better half to help me get a better grasp of things. The conversation was mostly one-sided but it helped me wade through my muddled thoughts and find my way. It ended with me saying "I wish I had written that down" and that's what got me thinking.
Talking out loud is a fantastic way of relieving stress. Just like going to therapy helps us stay well mentally, speaking our thoughts out loud can do wonders when facing writer's block.
Thanks to technology, you don't even need to find someone to lend you an ear. Grab your phone, Chromebook, or tablet, and start fiddling with Gboard. Open a note-taking app, find the little voice typing option, and start yakking away.
You might start with a load of nonsense, but as you talk it all out, your words will start to sound sane eventually.
Speech-to-text conversion is nothing new or revolutionary. In fact, most computers and mobile devices have had this function for ages.
Don't dismiss it just because this isn't an innovative new feature though. Make the most of what you do have in your arsenal. Almost every person on the planet has access to a smartphone, and almost every keyboard app has a speech-to-text engine.
Too much on your plate? Don't know where to start your homework? No idea how to open your college essay? Talk about it. Have conversations, even if they are solo ones.
I can't count the number of times that voice typing has saved me. When I have no clue where to start, this is now my go-to coping method. All you need is your own voice, the rest will fall into place.
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