Taking Chances and the Cure for ED

by on April 2, 2012 · 28 comments

Taking Chances

I suffered from idea constipation.

Three weeks ago, I published my first book (incurring the wrath of real writers everywhere; well, at least in the English-speaking countries).

Now, I have ED (get your mind out of the gutter).

Entrepreneur Dysfunction is the entrepreneur’s version of writer’s block.

It’s as if I’d angered the spirits of great writers and in retaliation, they’ve shut off my ideas spigot.

I’ve had this idea constipation ever since I came back from a short vacation to New Orleans in order to relax and to clear my head.

Apparently I was gone too long.

My usual Niagara Falls flow of ideas just stopped. My mind was a total blank.

I’d always relied on a constant stream of inspiration from the hundreds of websites/blogs I visit each week. With my short break to “The Big Easy”, however, I guess I neglected to keep my brain properly stimulated (watching a drunk reveler reveal his plumber’s crack in slow motion on Bourbon Street doesn’t count.)

Note: This is a departure from my usual type of post (I do have ED, after all), but stick with me, will ya? 😉

The Easy Fix for Your Entrepreneur Dysfunction

The one and only fix for writer’s block, and an easy one at that, is to write.

Write something. Write anything. Just write.

Along the same lines, whatever ED you face in your business, you need to take it head on.

Take a chance and stray from the usual. Try something new, scary, or easy. Don’t over-analyze it. Just do it.

Having trouble coming up with an innovative feature for your app? Change your focus and work on coding something totally different.

Can’t figure out what your new SEO strategy is gonna be now that Google is slapping rank manipulators silly? Stop looking for ways to game the search engine algorithms and concentrate on putting out a kick-ass product/content/service.

Keep on keeping on.

Taking Chances … Despite the High Risk

Choosing to be an entrepreneur is like choosing to walk a tightrope 3,000 ft above ground without a safety harness, except way more dangerous, because at least on the tightrope, no one’s trying to shove you off while telling you that “it’s not personal, it’s just business”.

Walking Tightrope without a Harness(Photo Credit: Alexandre Buisse)

Taking a risk and tackling your fears can bring success beyond your wildest dreams. It can also give you explosive diarrhea. Though I wouldn’t mind it if I’m guaranteed success. And by success I mean selling more than 10 copies of my book.

Actually, risking mental and physical harm is not that scary. In fact, it’s good for your health. Okay, I don’t have actual proof of this, but since I’ve been jeopardizing my mental and physical health living the life of an entrepreneur while remaining relatively sane, it should be proof positive that what doesn’t kill you (or drive you mad) only makes you stronger, right? At least my slightly unbalanced mind would like to think so.

No, there is a far more horrifying fate that entrepreneurs fear: being confronted with the question: now what?

Give us a problem, and we’ll solve it.

Challenge us with a task, and we’ll exceed your expectations.

“Give it to me, I can take anything you dish out!” you say with the kind of bravado only an entrepreneur can.

But when you’ve solved that problem or completed that task, your biggest fear is that nothing awaits you on the other side. No new challenges to take on. Now what?

That’s why you need to …

Celebrate the Little Victories

We need little victories.

Given my problem with ED, writing and finishing this post was a little victory for me.

To be honest, when Annika first approached me about writing a post for her blog crawl, my first instinct was to say no. But as I was in the midst of my idea constipation, I gave it a few days to marinate before answering her with an emphatic “YES!”

My rationale? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Challenging ourselves with something we’re uncomfortable with sometimes leads to unexpected rewards.

Taking a risk

So I decided to challenge myself.

I challenged myself to inject some humor into my normal dry, business-type blog writing…away from the need to attract new customers.

Dipping my toes in the world of humorous writing has allowed me to put a quarter in my creative piggybank.

Finishing this post meant that I’ve turned the corner, opened the spigot and unleashed my special form of written torture upon you. There’s no turning back now.

Wonderful things can happen when you take a chance. Your ED starts to perk up when you stop taking things so seriously.

I took a chance by writing this post.

I gave myself a mental enema.

And you know what? It worked! I’ve already been inspired to work on a new project which I hope to inflict on the world in a week or two.

So, what chances are YOU taking?

What Happens When You Have Writer’s Block: A Look Inside

P.S. While I’m on this productivity run, I just wrote another book. And this time it took me less than 5 minutes! (mostly in coming up with the title).

Introducing my newest book:  What Happens When You Have Writer’s Block: A Look Inside.

It was inspired by the Blank Book Title Contest.

(This post is part of The Celebration Series blog crawl project put together by Annika Martins in which I answer the question: “What do you need to celebrate?)


1 Christine Marmoy

Hi Jeanne. Oh this article resonates with me! I was right where you are like a week ago after 2 weeks being sick…I got scared because I realize that although ideas and creativity was never an issue for me…when I was sick my brain was like jelly and I could not write anything, I was blank…It’s scary when you know that writing is a big part of any online business. So here is what I did….I journal everyday…I write what I’m grateful about…and I did just that, I went back to my journal, read a few days worth of journaling and try to find an idea that I could use in an article, one thought I had at one time that I could transform into an article…then in a few days, as I was feeling better…I was back on track. Thank you for reminding us that we are all humans.

2 Jeanne

Thank you for sharing your journaling idea, Christine! I’ve never been able to get myself to journal. What I do have is a bookmark folder named “Post Ideas”. Every time I come across a great post which inspires an idea, I bookmark it for future reference.

I should add that there were really two components to my mental block. One being lack of ideas, and the other being just a general lack of motivation to do anything, much less write.

That’s why my bookmarks didn’t come to the rescue this time. Although there were some ideas I could’ve worked on, I just wasn’t “inspired” or “motivated” enough to make it happen.

3 Lisa Montanaro

Great article/post Jeanne! We have all faced writer’s block at times, and getting through it can be challenging. Because I am a professional speaker, I often find it helps me to keep my digital audio recorder around or use an app like Dragon on your IPhone or IPad. Sometimes it is easier to speak than write! It just flows.

But I see your post as a larger metaphor for any fear or block that comes up for us as entrepreneurs. We just need to work through them, learn from them if possible and move on! 🙂 So glad you shared your story with us so we can benefit in some way.

4 Jeanne

Yes, that’s exactly it! I meant for the post to encompass the larger issue of fears/mental blocks.

I would love to dictate my posts … if only I can stand the sound of my own voice. 😀

Actually, I use the voice recorder on my smartphone all the time to catch those fleeting ideas (and I do mean fleeting). It kills me when I get a couple of ideas at the same time, but as soon as my thought goes to one, the other vanishes into thin air. The one that could’ve been my million-dollar idea (which is too bad, since I am one of the millions of people who did not win the $656 million jackpot last Friday). Oh well …

5 Gemma Thompson

Hi Jeanne,
I’ve been there! Now I write EVERY day for at least 30 minutes! Although on the low motivation days that seems to end up being more editing than writing!
Love the humour and personality in this post, it’s a gamble that paid off!

6 Jeanne

I can write fast. But editing? Now that’s a whole ‘nother story. My time ratio of editing vs. writing is at least 50 to 1. That’s my Type-A personality at work. So I can definitely relate.

Glad you liked my attempt at humor, or as you classy Brits like to refer to as “humour”. Fade-in to the conversation I have inside my head: “should I spell it “humor” or “humour”? Am I so presumptuous as to use my spelling over hers or is it more proper to follow what your guest is using?” This is the kind of inner conversation that can drive a girl nuts!

7 Sarah

Jeanne! I love this post so much – you hit on so many great points. In particular, I love the idea of having the courage to just try something different. I’ve been doing a lot more of that lately, and it’s amazing how many new ideas it can generate. Having new experiences is the cornerstone of expanding our comfort zones. Way to go for stepping outside of your normal style and saying “yes” to a new challenge! Looks like it was a success. 🙂

8 Jeanne

Thank you, Sarah! I am trying to get in touch with my inner dork at the moment. Maybe I have undiagnosed ADD, I constantly feel the need to do something different. For me, same = boring = lack of motivation = “what now?”

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think people want “easy”. We want to be challenged. We need to struggle. It makes whatever we’re striving for all the sweeter once we get it. Then it’s on to the next challenge.

I’m glad I didn’t win the lottery, because then things will seem “easy”. Let the lottery ruin someone else’s life.

9 Nadine Nicholson

“I suffered from idea constipation.” LOL. OMG Jeanne, you are SO far from boring. You’re hilarious, actually! Thanks for sharing your sense of humour – it made my morning. I’m also glad I’m not the only one who experiences a writer’s block after a vacation. One thing I did for my last vacation was write a few extra posts before I left, so I could publish those when I returned. That allowed me to get back into the swing of things a bit more seamlessly. Thanks again.

10 Jeanne

So glad you’re one of 2 people who thinks I’m funny (me being the other person). Who says we can’t laugh at our own jokes, especially the really inappropriate ones? If only my parents can understand half the stuff I write, then they would know for sure that all my years of higher education are indeed wasted. Thank you for making MY morning, Nadine!

11 Dave Huffman

Make that 3 people who think you’re funny 😉

Fitting ED, Constipation, and Explosive Diarrhea all in the same post is epic…

I don’t fancy myself much of an entrepreneur, but I need ideas to keep my business moving – in my corporate job, freelance business, and my personal publishing schedule.

Writing really is the best way in a lot of cases. Sometimes, I’m frustrated and don’t even want to go near a keyboard or pen…in those cases, reading something non-business, anything, usually gets me back on track.

While reading, I’ll catch a lil’ kernel of an idea in there somewhere and throughout a day or so it’ll burst open into explosive diarrhea.

Oh, I mean…nevermind.

Congrats on the book(s) Jeanne!

12 Jeanne

Yes, I think I read somewhere that if I incorporate anything involving bodily functions or fluids into my writing, it will make at least one guy laugh. Guess you’re it! My work here is done.

BTW, who uses a pen anymore? The only time I pick up a pen anymore is to sign a credit card receipt, and to remind my neighbor how far I can shove it up his ass if he doesn’t trim back his tree growing over my fence.

Now look what you’ve done. You’ve encourage me to go where no well-mannered Asian girl should ever go. Yeah, “thank you”, Dave. 🙂

13 Alison Monahan

Great post, and I can totally relate. Taking time off to relax is great and all, but it does tend to make my mind more “blank” for awhile afterwards. Scary, but the ideas eventually show back up!

My post-idea collection system is a bit odd. I constantly email myself ideas and tag them in Gmail, and then almost never look at them again. Somehow knowing they’re there waiting if I need them helps more ideas flow.

And, for the record, I found this funny!

14 Jeanne

I email myself stuff all the time just so I can use Gmail’s search function when I need to look up something.

And thank you for the compliment, Alison. Your check is in the mail. 😉

15 Ryan Hanley


Excellent post… Truly.

I completely feel you on the Celebrate the Little Things idea. I definitely get a bit too caught up in the Large Goals at times and let their weight apply unnecessary pressure.

As far as the Entrepreneur Dysfunction this happens to me when I try to do too many things at once. One at a time… One at a time… I have to tell myself this all day long.


Ryan H.

16 Jeanne

Thank you, Ryan. You and I are on the same wavelength. I could tell, from your 100 video experiment, that we both like to go after BIG projects.

When I started my blog late last year, I had 3 major projects planned for it (in addition to writing the posts). I wanted to pursue all 3 at the same time, but quickly realized that I needed to break everything down to more manageable pieces. But most importantly, that I must finish one project before starting another.

The internet forces us to have unrealistic timelines for our online businesses. Trying to juggle too many balls at the same time is both unproductive and demotivating (when nothing is ever completely done).

And this post is about what happens AFTER completing a big project. The pressure and adrenaline rush is gone and we go into a temporary lull until the next big thing that excites us comes along. It’s an endless cycle of highs and lows. But that’s what we love about it, right?!

17 Ryan Hanley

Haha… I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite part!

But I feel you… As a blogger you are a creator. If you don’t like to create then blogging is not for you. So we Create… and Create… and when we’re not creating we don’t know what to do with ourselves so we try to create more… Then we get overloaded… haha… So I guess it is an endless cycle.

It has been a pleasure getting to know you better Jeanne. I look forward to more!

Ryan H.

18 Tom Treanor


I love it. You and I both had Ent. Dis. the same week (I wasn’t going to say “ED”!). After a big week last week I had completely run dry too. I felt like there was just nothing there at all. I even looked at my blog post ideas document and nothing seemed worthy. I wrote something that had an okay concept, did an okay job with it, and came back to it later to work on it and finally liked the result.

On the drive today for a short vacation suddenly the ideas started flowing again. Just being in the car and away from things helped. Then I listened to a podcast (copyblogger) and get even more inspiration. I guess my lesson is that it passes. Next time I’d probably give myself a few days off, watch some Ted talks, go play some tennis or go surfing and get away from it. My take is that ED (this type) cures itself!

Thanks for the post and I loved a little humorous interlude!

19 Jeanne

You’re right, ED cures itself with time. It’s just very unnerving when it happens. It makes you question yourself. When we’ve put all our time and energy into a big project, the euphoria of completing it can quickly give way to “how am I going to top that?” And when nothing comes to mind, you feel like a fraud. That’s why it’s good to relax and mix it up a little like I did.

Enjoy your vacation. I’m glad the ideas are flowing for you again. Thanks, Tom!

20 Jackie

God Jeanne
I’m beginning to think there’s a virus going around…so far this week has been the same for me too. I sit and wait for the words to come, and I got zip, nada…. I couldn’t even buy a vowel.

When I get like this, even commenting is like drawing blood…struggle street big time.

Go back to the week before and I was like a machine. Maybe that’s how our brains are wired. Go hard, but allow time for recovery instead of trying to push through those sticky patches.

…oh and the number count is rising…I reckon you’re pretty damned funny too 🙂

21 Jeanne

ED happens a lot more than most entrepreneurs care to admit. It’s one thing to admit failure and move on. It’s quite another to say the well has run dry.

I suppose our mental muscles work the same way as our regular muscles. It’s a cycle of destruction and healing that helps the muscle grow. After a hard workout, our muscle strength is diminished for a few days while the body repairs itself. Once it heals, however, we come back stronger than before.

Gosh, all this ego-stroking is great for my recovery. Thanks, Jackie! 😀

22 Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca

So, Jeanne, I guess what I take from all this is… ED rocks?

Hahaha… jus’ kiddin’, you did an awesome job with this. Congrats on your book (I wrote a 300+ page book once with 0 sales, so…)! Congrats on celebrating victories, and congrats on this line:

“Try something new, scary, or easy.”

So good. 🙂

23 Jeanne

Well, it can only go up from there … the books sales, not the ED. 😉

24 kitty Kilian

😉 (this is a smile – your comment box wanted more words: here they are).

25 Eric T. Wagner

Nicely done Jeanne.

Read in a book recently that big successes do not just suddenly appear out of no where – those grand slams are made of “small, connected strategic steps”.

And love the idea of celebrating each one along the way.

Thanks for sharing Jeanne… 🙂

26 Mike Garner

I can only reiterate what others have said. Small steps is the way to move forward with writing something, however small, even blog post comments, every day. Journaling is also a good way. It provides a historical record of stuff you’ve covered or thoughts you’ve had in your business and I find it helps me sort out ideas. For info, I use an iPhone app, Day One which reminds me every couple of days that I haven’t updated it, so it keeps me on the straight and narrow!

27 Alan Smith

Sometimes the simple advice is the best advice. I often struggle with writers block, but I’ve yet to struggle with talking block. I think that just starting to write is often a cure for the block. Great ideas!

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