43 Folders

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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Prompts to start you writing

Imagination Prompt Generator: Writing Inspiration at the Press of a Button

Getting started with any writing project can be made a bit easier by the equivalent of cracking your knuckles—by doing some kind of short writing exercise that just gets your hands moving. I know it sounds crazy, but I sometimes think it’s your hands being in motion that let your brain know that “the writing zone” has been entered, far more than the other way around.

If you enjoyed Hack your way out of writer’s block, you might also dig this little trick: a page that gives you random suggestions, or prompts, for topics about which you can write whatever you like. A few examples:

  • Describe five things that you can see right now.
  • 10 things I’m pessimistic about
  • My three closest friends…
  • If I could change my…
  • Between the ages of 5 and 10, what was your favorite activity?

They have links to more prompts and creativity helpers below the button including these and these.

Like practicing scales before singing or stretching your legs before a run, little hacks like this can take the trauma out of the blank page (or keep you from metaphorically pulling something, I suppose). I also like that they get you thinking about ideas outside your usual comfort zone (even though a few sound remarkably like awful LiveJournal memes).

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About Merlin

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Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

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