Writers talk about (and agonize over) a condition they call writer’s block. When this occurs even experienced authors report feeling stuck. It’s not just limited to writers, of course. Any creative endeavor can get bogged down when the creator feels blocked.
Psychologists suggest that we can shorten our down time by doing something unrelated to the project that has us stymied. In other words, we can solve the problem by walking away from the problem…for a while.
With that in mind, I polled several of my creative friends and asked them, “What do you do when you need fresh inspiration?” Every one came back with a response.
Here, then, are some proven ways to give yourself a creative jolt.
° Keep an inspiration journal. Use it to collect anything that feeds your soul. Fill it with quotes, stories of people you admire, pictures of beautiful places.
Page through it when you have forgotten that the world is a wonderful place.
° Visit somewhere that’s busy. An airport of shopping center are excellent places for people-watching. Make up stories about the people you see.
Imagine what their lives are like, their occupations, where they live and so forth. Since you’re keeping it to yourself, make the stories as outrageous as possible.
° Dance or exercise. Moving your body can also get your imagination moving again.
° Organize a brainstorming session. Round up a few of your most creative friends and let them throw ideas at you. Pay attention to even the silliest ideas.
One of the reasons brainstorming works so well is that the other members of the group don’t have the same emotional attachment to your project that you do. There can be clarity in detachment.
° Put your hands to work. Do needlework or carpentry or something that involves using your hands. Dig in the garden.
These can be stress-lowering activities which also can reinvigorate. I’d pick up my crochet hook rather than Prozac.
° Be quiet. Meditate. Go for a walk. Stare out of the window. Browse in a bookstore or library. Schedule quiet time daily to rest and restore.
° Practice mindless motion. Take a drive in the country. Or do something truly mindless like vacuuming the rug.
The key here is to incorporate movement that doesn’t require you to think deeply.
° Call a trusted friend. Not just anyone will do, however. Ask questions of your wisest friend and see what insights they may have. Listen.
° Expose yourself to a new idea or two. Read a book on a subject you don’t normally investigate. Take a class and absorb the energy of being in a room with other explorers. Look for new ideas or consider a different opinion or viewpoint about old ideas.
The key, as this poll would suggest, is to shift gears. When you return to the project that has you perplexed, you’ll bring a new energy and perspective.
Even if you’re not currently bogged down, after working on a project for an hour or so, take 15 minutes and do one of the activities names above. Pick one that you don’t ordinarily do. Notice how you feel when you resume your task.
Whether you need a quick lift or want to prevent creative blocks from taking up residence, having an inventory of alternative activities can be a surprisingly effective way to keep things moving forward.