Big problems? Big paper.


I first understood the power of big paper when it saved a very tricky, very high-stakes, very time-sensitive video project. I unsuccessfully juggled visual and audio storylines - dropping one or the other, one after the other. Draft after draft after draft, nothing clicked. I couldn't "see" the lyricism of the story in the practical Calibri on my computer screen. 

So I tore an eight-foot-long piece of paper off a roll we had in the office, sat in the middle of it with a pack of markers, and started writing.

And then I went analog.
— Colleague speaking on "Presentation Zen"

Amazingly, I finally found flow. The storylines co-existed, intertwined when needed, grew louder and quieter without fussing with formatting. I crawled down the paper, markers flying as "The Beauty of Flight" took off.

Shake things up

Stories should be linear. Writing doesn’t have to be.
— Jennifer Ziegler, Author

When you're stuck - really, really stuck on a project, you have to shake things up. You can do that with setting or style - step away from the computer and write by hand. Leave your hovel and go to a coffee shop. Start at the end and work your way back to the beginning.

Because you're not going to find your answer on the computer screen doing what you've been doing. You're just not. 

In the past week, I've heard two people express variations of this theme - a colleague at work spoke on breaking through a Power Point problem by working it out on paper first. And author Jennifer Ziegler spoke of outlining individual scenes for a novel but writing them in the order that they inspire her on any given day.

My Approach

Like my colleague, I'm prone to go analog. I usually start with 8.5 x 11" paper stolen from my printer. And if that doesn't work, I go bigger. And bigger. AND BIGGER. I find I make different connections when I see my thoughts spread around me - the space - the visual nature of my thoughts activates a part of my brain that doesn't come to life when I'm in a word doc. 

I use this approach for strategy challenges. For copywriting challenges. And for writing challenges. Give it a try. And let me know how you shake your writing up.

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