A Writer’s Block Beating Tip From Rolf Harris?

"blogging" "The Great Gordino" "Gordon Bryan"If you’re struggling to get that latest piece of content written, with a blank screen that just looks whiter the more you look at it, then you’re not alone. It’s a problem faced by many, and in this article I’m going to give you a tip to get past the writer’s block, that I got from Rolf Harris…

If you don’t know who Rolf Harris is, he’s an Australian entertainer who settled in Britain in the 1950s. He was a regular fixture on TV throughout my childhood as he became a big star, predominantly in children’s entertainment.

He’s know for his use of odd instruments, and the huge paintings he used to do as part of his TV shows. What he’s not know for though, is his blogging prowess, so why do I use him for a lesson in getting over writer’s block..?

Well, let’s go back to those huge paintings he used to do. He’s start by splashing paint all over the massive canvas, and then he’d put a dash of one colour here, and a dash of another there, with seemingly no order to it.

He developed a catchphrase ‘can you tell what it is yet?’ as the audience tried to imagine what he painting. Then at the end he’d add some final flourishes, and it was these flourishes that brought the whole painting into an image.

It was quite magical to me as a child, and even as an adult it’s impressive to watch, and Harris is underestimated as painter.

When I saw him being interviewed about how he started any painting, big or small, he answered that he always started by covering the canvas in a wash of colour. He said the blank canvas looked so stark and bleak, that by covering it in a colour – any colour – he found it easier to make progress.

That’s the tip – where Rolf uses paint to get past the blank canvas, you should use some words, any words, to get past the blank page!

I’ve done this before – literally start by writing that you are a bit stuck on how to progress but are writing some content about xxxx. You intend to get the message across that xxxx, which will help people because xxxx.

Once you’ve done that, you’ve made the breakthrough. You’ll then find that as you answer your own questions, the content will develop, and then your brain will start to take over and ideas will lead from ideas.

Afterwards you can go back in and edit of course – maybe taking out the original questions you wrote as your prompt, or maybe even leaving them in!

You may think it’s too simple an idea, but I can assure you I’ve used it many times myself, and it works. If you find yourself suffering from some writer’s block, then give it go – you’ll thank me for the idea, for which we both in turn can thank Rolf Harris!

Let me know what you think!

‘Til Next Time,
Health & Happiness,
P.S. This article uses another content creation tip explained in this article: Here’s How To Reuse Content Already On Your Blog!
P.P.S. Read what I have to say about the blogging secret the gurus don’t want you to know!

Do leave a comment!

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    • Thanks Caro,
      I love watching him go from start to finish – the combination of passion and technique. Everytime I fancy learning to paint when I watch!

  • Great post and great advice. I read somewhere that the hardest part of writing is just to get to the top of the page. Once you have put something down…you are on your way. Thank you for helping me to remember that! Good luck with the Blog challenge.

  • Hi Gordon,

    That is a great idea! It is only after reading your post I realized that I do pretty well what you suggested. I usually write a few words and then save my post as a draft.

    As well, even if I am at my computer I write any ideas that come to my head in a notebook and then refer to it later. I noticed that sometimes ideas pop into my head when I am doing other work (like housecleaning or cooking) and if I don’t jot it down I forget it it.

    Have a great day,


    • Hi Dita,
      I also jot down article ideas, as they come at all sorts of times, and like you I forget them if I don’t get them down! I wonder if there’s a painting equivalent of the ‘idea file?’

  • I don’t have much trouble with content as such, mostly the discipline to do it. But getting my second novel finished and off to the publisher is going very slowly. Any thoughts on now to tell that story when it isn’t “get the message across that xxxx, which will help people because xxxx.”

    I want the story to be funny, to be touching, and I think I have all my colors on my palette, but the overall picture isn’t there yet–like your entertainers picture. I guess there aren’t enough splats yet. Happy UBC.

    • Hi Charlotte,
      The technique works with all sorts of writing – I’ve used it for fiction myself when I needed to. Just get down the rough ideas, and the rest is then easier to unleash,

  • I had the urge to get me wobble board out then…

    Struggling writing at the mo -yes I do just start and write anything, I have several unfinished posts with no specific focus. It will come back in a flash of inspiration. Reading blogs helps too!

    Thanks for the tip and Rolf 🙂

    • Hi Jan,
      Ah, the wobble board!

      Unfinished posts are great! It shows you are using the technique, and going back into them to revisit can either prompt you to finish it, or to change direction and go somewhere different. I also agree that reading other blogs helps, I’ve got loads of new ideas tha way.

  • Gordon, you’re so right about this. I can remember the look of shock on the faces of some of my writing students when I used to tell them that books or stories weren’t written necessarily from beginning to end. One even told me surely it was cheating if you got to the end and then went back to the beginning to add something in order for it all to make sense.

    It takes a while to realise that writing is a messy business. A bit like cooking really. All the diner sees is the lovely dish in front of them – they have no idea of the devastation left behind in the kitchen.

    PS – I used to love watching Rolf on the telly, painting his pictures. I’ve never likened his methods to writing – but you’re dead right about it.

    • Hi Deb,
      I love the thought of the devastation left behind in a kitchen! I think it’s a technique that can be applied to most creative processes, that the rigid line from start to finish is a bit (or a lot!) of a myth!

  • Gordon,
    I seldom have writer’s block, on the contrary, if I can’t get my thoughts down somewhere that I’ll have access to them later, I will forget as they are soon taken over by new ones. The thing I struggle against sometimes is motivation to actually start writing. I think the “wash of colour” idea works in that instance too. I’ll have to think about that one for a bit.

    Great post and wonderful reference. I enjoyed learning about Rolf.


  • Great idea. I suppose I do something like that, having draft posts that I store away until I come back to them later, but the analogy to painting is a good one.