Whatever your practice, creativity is essential in the writing and publishing profession. Aren’t we always searching for a new way to creatively tell a story?
In a world where everyone has a platform and everyone is a storyteller, it is more important than ever to ensure you are able to articulate your craft in a way that is engaging and timeless. It was once said that no one writer has more ideas than another, just that some do a better job of expressing what lies within all of us.
This article includes some of the practices that I have found to be helpful in the creative process. It is quite a journey; one that I am not sure has a true destination, so these tips help keep me plugged in and excited about the possibilities.
Do Something You Love
Maybe writing isn’t your thing today. Don’t force it. When on a deadline it always seems my brain ceases to produce. The pressure that comes from attempting to force myself into creativity often stifles the ability to conjure fresh ideas more than encourage. But for most of us, getting outside, listening to our favorite songs, drawing a picture, meditating, or simply taking a walk gets the creative juices flowing. Whatever it is, find what works for you and recalibrate your mind for optimum performance.
Tip: Take a walk outside. Gets your blood flowing and mind inspired.
Get Some Quality Sleep While sleep can seem counterintuitive to completing a task, it is one of the best ways to refocus and allow your brain to generate ideas that you may be subconsciously blocking while you are awake. Fellow author, John Steinbeck writes in Sweet Thursday, “It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”
Tip: Dedicate 10 minutes before bed to be in a silent, mindful meditation. This allows you to ditch stressful thoughts from the day and fall asleep easier.
Turn Anxiety into Focus
Sitting down to write used to bring me a lot of anxiety, and sometimes still does. I would stare at a blank screen or white piece of paper for hours, and the inability to immediately produce an earth shattering document would eat me alive. I have begun to realize that making peace with not being perfect did not set the bar lower, but has instead allowed me to reach new heights. The art of trial and error has become something essential in my craft and I have turned the anxious feelings that once kept me from getting started into a clear focus on the task at hand.
Tip: Implement journaling into your routine in order to reduce stress and heighten focus.
Pick a Terrible Topic
Creativity, like anything, comes with practice. It can come easier to some than others, but in order to keep it alive it must constantly be tended to and challenged. When the stakes are low, or even non-existent, it can be easier to allow yourself to potentially fail. Pick a completely ridiculous topic and let your mind soar. Write it all down and capture all your wildest imaginations. Then, as any good athlete would do, once you are warmed up, you will be able to perform at a higher level, and be ready to create something amazing.
Tip: Google “random topic generator.” Let your brain do the rest!
Take a (few) Break(s)
Even when it does not feel like you need it, a break can be a good way to signal to your brain that it can go from hyper-creativity to a more relaxed mode of the same without being completely on or completely off. Scheduling breaks throughout your day can increase brain function, boost your mood, and contribute to overall wellness. Breaks ideally involve some movement and a change of scenery, like going on a nature walk or bike ride.
Tip: Proactively add alerts on your phone or computer to remind you to take a few breaks each day!
Usually when I sit down to write, I tend to look for a quiet place opposed to one with lots of noise and distractions. However, there are actually some noises that can aid in the creative process. When we listen to certain sound frequencies it can increase productivity, block out other distracting noises, help us get in the zone quickly, and increase productivity all while reducing our stress levels. Sound too good to be true? Give it a try.
Tip: Go to Noisli.com and select the “productivity” tab. Enjoy!
Reset Your Setting
If you are anything like me, it can be uncomfortable to stay in the same place for too long; both physically and mentally. Staying on the same topic or chapter makes me start to second guess if my writing is headed in the right direction, or if it even has a direction at all. The same thing can happen when our bodies stay in one place. Often times behind a desk in an uncomfortable chair we can become, unsurprisingly, uninspired. If you cannot change your scenery, change your view by standing up. While this seems like a really simple task, it can have really strong implications in terms of your creative abilities.
Tip: Find a spot in your house or office that gives you a completely different feeling than where you started. If you are sitting, try standing for a little while. If you are in a solitary space, move to one with a lot of people and color for a change of scenery.
Find Your Times
Never forget that you are allowed to be more than one thing in your life. Just because you are a writer does not mean you are just a writer, and it does not mean you are always a good one at that. There will be times when your creativity peaks, and you should capitalize on that. Find out when those times are and do what you can to make them happen as often as you can. Maybe those times come after you practice something on this list, or a combination of several creative strategies. Maybe they come after you go for a long run or have your favorite drink.
Tip: Keep notes of when you create something great and reflect on what you did prior to that. Looking back at common trends can make it easy to identify what works for you.
Get a Second Opinion
Sometimes the simplest way to get your mind working is to gain a new perspective. As writers, we base so much of our work on life experiences and, if we are really honest with ourselves, one person can only experience so much the world has to offer. Asking for a second opinion or simply having a conversation can open up doors to ideas you never considered. Brainstorming is much more effective when there is more than one brain involved.
Tip: Find someone you may not have a lot in common with. The more varied your backgrounds, the more perspectives you can generate on a topic.
To be great at anything it must be worked towards, creativity is no different.
Piper McIntosh is a mom of four, two humans and two dogs. When she isn’t chasing one, or all, of them around, she enjoys putting her thoughts down on paper. A fan of the outdoors, homemade meals and good books, Piper is always looking for new ways to tell stories and make people feel moved. She loves to collaborate with others and welcomes differing perspectives from all those around her!