Sometimes I get exhausted trying to think about what to do next concerning a project, a paper, or even a single line of text. What comes next? I can wonder about this for hours. What should I write next? How can I move this forward? I ask these questions for a while before becoming very disillusioned about the whole state of my project or paper. At this point I’ve sort of shut down and I must go do something else (take a walk, read a non-related book, etc.) before coming back to the task at hand. While stepping away from the project is one way to deal with the problem of being stuck, I’ve recently discovered another (inspired by an acting exercise in training book). I was skeptical at first. Sometimes the creative application doesn’t actually work for more fact-based academic writing. I have to say, I was surprised.
You know those WWJD branded items everywhere? “What Would Jesus Do?” Know what I’m talking about? They’re so prolific that they’ve been parodied frequently, replacing “Jesus” with any other name of a person, character, thing, etc. The question is striking though: What would [someone else] do? Oftentimes I’ve talked about coming at something from a different angle being helpful, but I never thought about how easy it is to think of a different angle if you’re trying to think as a different person. How would your father explain the topic at hand? How about your teacher? Your mother? What would your grandmother think was important? What about your postal carrier? The people we are surrounded by are an endless source of inspiration in other areas, why not academically? In fact, you can even engage them in conversation and, in the act of trying to explain it to them, clarify your own description for the purpose of your paper or presentation. WW*D? That’s your ticket to a next sentence.