As a writer yourself, you’ve read all the inspirational blogs you could find once, twice, maybe seven times, yet here you are again, looking for a creative boost. If we’re going to be real, we Imagineers (thanks for the cool title, Disney) are in a constant need to fill up, pour out, and repeat. We are typically processing a million ideas and feelings at one time. When we’re lucky, we spill some of those thoughts out onto paper in just enough time for new ones to pop into our brains.
It’s rare that we have time to unwind and put everything away to breathe, to sit in silent tranquility. And whether or not it’s because we are overwhelmed with too much stimulation or we are burned out, lacking any motivation at all, we lose our spark. Then, our passions become almost burdensome versus enjoyable.
Don’t feel discouraged. I’ve found myself in this predicament more than I’d like to admit. In fact, as I’m writing this, I realize my own creative stupor has been making faces at me behind my back for the last few weeks. There are ways to combat this disheartening rut, though. Not all hope is lost. Here are a few steps I take to rekindle my creativity and overcome writer’s block.
1. Determine Your Required Environment
Creatives can go from being super social, bouncing suggestions off one another to secluded and protective of their brainstorming in a matter of seconds. Because our minds are forever shifting, we are indefinitely changing the way we interact with things around us. That is why it’s pertinent for us to figure out which kind of environment we need in order to get our creativity flowing.
Do we need it to be quiet, less involved, minimally lit? Do we need people to be there, or do we need to be alone? If we want people there but don’t want to engage them, do we need a library? These are the types of questions you will need to answer to find the perfect spot to set up shop.
2. Figure out What’s Really Plaguing You
Writers share what they know and feel. They write from their experiences and the innermost chambers of their souls. What are the things that are keeping you awake at night? When you look in the mirror, what are you really reflecting on? What’s giving you anxiety or making your heart skip a beat? Those sneaky voices in your head that make their debut while you’re showering are usually the keys to your next masterpiece, be it poetry, a short story, a song, a one-liner, or a novel.
One of the highest compliments I’ve received is that I have an artist’s soul. It means that when someone else sees random blots of paint on a canvas, I see a story. I see stars, an enchanted kingdom, a vampire and werewolf. Find a blank canvas (literally or figuratively) or an abstract painting that doesn’t have much rhyme and reason–what comes to your mind when you stare at it? Recurring “visions” are probably saturated with inspiration.
3. Consider Miscellaneous Factors
We each have our own quirks and hobbies that stir up creative juices. Individuality is a critical component in overcoming the inability to write because the better you know and are in tune with yourself, the easier it is to tap into your imagination. What are the things that get you in the zone? Music is my ol’ reliable. It contributes so much to my creative vibe regardless of if I’m melancholy, adventurous, or ecstatic. I do what I call “feeding the mood” by picking a playlist which correlates with my current groove, and I usually start spouting out creativity everywhere.
If you feel rejuvenated from exercising, go on a run. Make sculptures out of playdough. Fill in a page from a jumbo coloring book. Break a plate. Do whatever it takes to heighten your senses and bring them to their peak. Spend time with yourself doing things you love. Better yet, discover unfamiliar hobbies or interests and let that stretch and grow you.
4. Mind Map It
After you have pinpointed where your mind and heart are, it’s time to branch out related details to the chosen topic. Get out a piece of paper or something that allows you room for a map no matter what kind it is–bubble, spiderweb, linear, “word vomit,” a list, etc. Focus on the subject at hand and jot down any and everything you associate with it.
If you keep coming back to the subject of a wildflower, for example, you might scribble about its color, which could lead to the topic of types of weather that may then turn into the topic of geographic location (and may remind you of that road trip you took once). Before you know it, you’ll have numerous writing prompts you didn’t originally know intertwined with a wildflower.
5. Out with the Laundry
When all else seems to fail, just write. Something. It doesn’t matter if you start rhyming words that you think aren’t remotely affiliated with anything in your life. After you put pen to paper, possibilities are endless; you simply have to find your niche. Keep at it until your hand falls off. Yes, that sounds silly, but I’m quite serious. If I’ve learned anything about myself, it’s that I tend to write indirectly.
In other words, I think I know what I want to say, but when I lay everything on the table, I’m really saying something else. My treasure comes “out with the laundry,” which is the excess (maybe unnecessary) information that might be found in my mind map. Don’t avoid using this method for fear of rambling or editing later. It’s all a part of the process, and once all your thoughts fall together, you’ll walk away from your piece feeling accomplished.
Losing your creative juices can take a toll on your whole life if you’re an avid artist, writer, musician, speaker, etc. We thrive off of rich, vibrant concepts and products. If the juices disappear, it might leave us in a low place of dysfunction, but we don’t have to stay there long. There is always a new muse right around the corner, and often, that muse is the very essence of you. Get outside the box or revisit your safe place, find your groove, take a breath, and never stop pushing for a breakthrough. You’ll surprise yourself with just how much creative juice is waiting to burst forth with your very next step.
Featured Image by Angelina Litvin