Creativity is a fickle creature. Some days, words and original thoughts flow like water tumbling down a waterfall and gathering in a pool of beautiful, clever prose. But on other days, the creativity stops flowing for no apparent reason.
Most writers experience occasional bad writing days. It’s frustrating, but normal. But how can you push through the occasional creativity road block? Here are a few suggestions designed to help you sharpen your creative focus and continue composing your masterpiece.
Shift Your Eyes – Move your eyes from left to right for thirty seconds. A study published in the scientific journal Brain and Cognition suggests that this exercise will increase the crosstalk between the brain’s left and right hemispheres, resulting in an increase in the number and quality of original ideas.
Change Your Writing Venue – Try moving your writing nook or computer to another room in your house for a few days. Write outside on a picnic table or go to a local coffee house for a few hours and write there. Write on a train. Write in a treehouse. Go to the library or bookstore and try creating surrounded by the wonderful smell of books. If you cannot move your workspace, consider changing your writing environment by moving the furniture around, painting the walls a different, livelier color, or placing some different knickknacks on your desk or shelf.
Take a Power Nap – Could it be that you’re mentally and/or physically exhausted? Try taking a twenty – minute nap in a quiet, dark place. When you rise, jump up and down for ten minutes, drink a tall glass of ice water, and try writing again.
Try a Freewriting Exercise – Isolate yourself from distractions, and write unencumbered on your topic for ten to fifteen minutes. Write quickly. Write down or type whatever comes to your mind in relation to your topic without editing or worrying about grammar or typos. If you get stuck, keep writing the same word or phrase over and over again until another thought pops into your mind. After the exercise, look over what you have written and highlight any ideas that are promising to your project.
Talk to Another Writer – Writers support one another. Sometimes it helps to talk about your writing obstacle with another writer and ask him or her for suggestions. If you don’t know another writer, try posting your writing roadblock on social media. You never know – sometimes it just takes one idea or word to unclog your creativity.
Try Bubbling or Mind Mapping – Write down your topic in the center of a large, clean sheet of paper and circle it. Next, draw several lines radiating from the center bubble. At the end of each line, jot a supporting thought or idea (subtopic) and circle it. Now draw a few lines radiating from each subtopic bubble, write down supporting ideas at the end of those lines, and circle them. Continue this process until you have filled your paper with ideas, then sit back and take a look at your diagram. You’ll see that some of your topics are keepers, while other thoughts are just orphans. Sometime simply viewing your words in a more graphic way helps restart the flow of creative juices.
Take a Creativity Diversion – When all else fails, stop writing and participate in some other activity for thirty minutes or more. Take a brisk walk without listening to music or podcasts and allow your brain to roam freely. Try painting or playing a musical instrument for an hour. Build something in the garage. Dance. Put a puzzle together. Complete a Sudoku puzzle. Do yoga. Write a love letter to your sweetheart. Clean out a closet in your house. Bake brownies. Wash your car. Just get up from your desk and do something totally unrelated to writing, and hopefully when you return, your creative juices will be flowing again.
Again, all writers – along with the poets, the musicians, and the artists of the world – have low – creativity and no – creativity days, so don’t freak out or beat yourself up. It happens. Just keep trying. You can push through the barrier.
About Amber Lanier Nagle
Amber Lanier Nagle has published hundreds of articles in national and regional magazines.
She is the brainchild behind Project Keepsake (http://www.ProjectKeepsake.com), a published collection of nonfiction stories about the origins and histories of keepsakes-a pocket knife, a cake pan, a quilt, a milking stool, etc. She says, “Everyone has a keepsake, and every keepsake has a story to tell.”
She’s also published two eBooks and facilitates writing workshops.