Weird Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

Hint: they don’t involve writing

Photo by Vinicius “amnx” Amano on Unsplash

The Struggle is Real

Creativity is fickle. It requires a specific kind of energy, which is a combination of motivation and inspiration. Motivation is the reason you’re writing. What are you trying to accomplish? Who is it for? What does it mean to you? Inspiration is that feeling you get when you see a great movie, read an amazing novel, or travel somewhere new. It’s the sense of wanting to put something fresh into the world and to explore possibilities.

Motivation and inspiration must work together for creativity to peak. When either one falls by the wayside, you’ll find yourself struggling to get words onto the page. No amount of force will make it better, which you’ll discover quickly if you try to plow through your creative ennui.

Instead, step outside your normal routine. Leaving your comfort zone is a great way to shake up stagnant energy and shift your mind back toward creativity, and to rediscover what keeps you motivated and inspired.

How to Get Your Flow Going

Get In the Kitchen

Cooking and baking aren’t easy for everyone, but food is a universal source of pleasure and inspiration. Consider the elements that parallel writing, such as the smell of food (hooking your reader), the variable list of ingredients (characters), the mixing and combining (sentence structures), the baking or cooking process (revision), and savoring the finished product (manuscript publication). Often a few days in the kitchen is enough to flip that stuck switch in your brain, allowing your mind to feel the spoils of successful creation.

Get Outside

Writing is a sedentary and internal process, which can stagnate your brain’s ability to process efficiently. Getting outdoors is one of the simplest ways to combat this. Go for a hike and absorb the beauty of nature, and while you’re moving, imagine how a story might unfold in your surroundings. What kind of historical fiction might take place there? What sort of fantastical creatures could lurk in the trees? What might it look like far in the future? If hiking isn’t an option, stroll around the block and imagine the people who live in the houses around you. Get in the garden and spend time noticing the birds and insects that inhabit your yard. Between the fresh air and the sensory input, you’ll quickly find your head clearing.

Go For a Drive

Sometimes creative blocks are due to a lack of movement in your life, whether physical or emotional. Why not jump in the car and hit the road? Cruise to the next town, take a stunning scenic route, visit your favorite overlook, or sail down the freeway and let your whims determine your destination. Crank up some music, turn on a favorite podcast, and let the movement of the road stir up your inner stagnation. Often just the act of moving can get your creative juices flowing again.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Practice Gratitude

This might sound unusual, but sometimes writer’s block is due to feeling insecurity or lack. Sitting in a gratitude meditation for fifteen minutes can help you realize how much is going well for you. Find a free guided meditation online, or just simply sit in a relaxed posture, feet on the floor and arms uncrossed, and tick off a list in your head. For example, you might say: “Thank you for the warm weather today. Thank you for my health. Thank you for the brilliant article I read about writer’s block today.” You get the picture. If this feels a bit strange, you can also write it down in a journal. But practicing gratitude every day changes your brain and makes you feel good, and feeling good is like a battery for creative energy.

Exercise

Get away from your desk and spend half an hour doing yoga, go for a run, lift weights, ride a bike, or whatever will stimulate your heart rate. You’ll return to your writing with a clear head, a happy body, and you’ll have shaken loose some of your stuck energy. If you spend long days writing or working at a desk, take a break every hour and move for 5–10 minutes. Sedentary behavior is a creativity killer.

Get a Pet

If you have a furry beast in your house, get on the floor and play with them. Hold them, smooch them, talk to them like a dork, and enjoy their company. There’s a reason hospitals and caregivers use pets for therapy. They boost your mood and cleanse your mind of the doldrums. Sometimes an animal’s unflappable joy is enough to restore your drive.

Go to Bed

Last but not least, you may need to step away from your writing and sleep on it. Before you go to bed, ask yourself what needs to happen next to get your story going. Don’t think about the answer. Just ask the question, and your subconscious mind will start working on a solution while you sleep. Chances are, you’ll have a bolt of inspiration in the morning. I kid you not, Abraham Lincoln did this when he was faced with a conundrum, and it worked for him. It might work for you too.

Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

Don’t Give Up

The important thing to remember is every writer occasionally gets stuck. Don’t give up on your writing or your work. You’ll get there.

If you need more ways to get inspired, try reading books or short stories similar to what you’re working on. Watch a weird movie. Join a writer’s circle for tips on how to move forward with your particular story. Listen to writing podcasts to absorb the passion of other writers.

If you keep moving, keep looking for new things in the world, and keep going back to your writing desk, you’ll eventually get there.

For more on creative inspiration, check out this article:

I am a fiction author and essayist, specializing in speculative fiction, human uplift, and all things geek. Visit my website at ryandoskocil.com.

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