Staring at a blank screen feels like watching paint dry. The cursor mocks you as you contemplate topics that might be worthy of seeing the light of day. Is your piece too silly, too serious, too funny, not funny enough? The litany of self-doubting questions is endless, and we could go on for hours talking about all the things that make us insecure about putting our creativity out there.
I’ve recently discovered something about my own writing habits. When I can’t think of anything to write, I give myself a writer’s pass to do ALL. THE. THINGS. that aren’t writing.
That laundry? An absolute must-do-now activity when you’re stumped for words. The same goes for dishes, vacuuming, and dusting. As soon as you realize your idea-maker isn’t making crap, you decide to do ANYTHING that will distract you from the fact that you’re a writer with NO words. Same here. I get it.
When you discover the anti-creativity forcefield surrounding you, it’s easy to come up with plenty of reasons to do non-creative things. Sound familiar? That’s because we writers struggle with many of the same things!
Here’s a quick idea guide that’s intended to energize your inner muse and allow you to get your creative juices flowing.
Writing is a dirty job. You’re down in the muck, digging for words and hoping you discover something to fill in all the blanks. You might step in crap, you might fall down, and you’ll probably write some things you’re not proud of. (Haven’t we all?!)
BUT…if you stick it out, you’ll often end up with a gem or two amongst the wreckage. And those tiny little writing gems? They make it all worthwhile.
How to Bust Your Writing Slump & Sling Exceptional Words onto the Page
Hear me out…your word-slinging may not immediately result in the next Nobel Prize-winning publication, BUT the idea is to free up your creativity and get some words onto the page. If they suck, that’s what editing is for. Because as a Jodi Picoult said…
You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.
It’s time to get some words on the page, so if you’re stuck, try using one or more of these Lucky 7 Tips to Write Something Awesome to get you back on the creativity train and producing content you’re proud of!
- Take a planned time-out. What’s this mean? It doesn’t mean wandering around Target to search the latest clearance finds. This means planning a creative break that’s intended to help your mojo rev back up again.
- Observe what’s going on in new surroundings. Even if they’re not brand-new to you, go there with an open mind…and an open notebook…so you can jot down all your great ideas in real time.
- Borrow a first sentence from something that’s going on around you. People say the funniest things, and if you pay attention, you’ll end up with some gold nuggets to incorporate into your writing. Choose a busy place to sit and enjoy your favorite coffee and then “borrow” from your surroundings to kickstart your writing. That lady who just scolded her husband? That kid who’s licking the trashcan at Wendy’s? They’re all fair game! And just think of where your imagination will go after writing, “Colton, stop licking that trashcan!”
- Take a creative time-out. Trust me, your instincts as a writer will survive a short furlough. If you’re consistently hitting a wall, make plans to go on a hike, take a pottery class, or go horseback riding. Whatever you choose, make sure your time off is limited and structured, so your inner writer will know she still has to punch the timecard eventually. By doing things that are creative, yet a departure from our day-to-day, it gives us our creativity a chance to regenerate.
- Meet with other professionals. It’s important to share your triumphs and struggles with others who understand what you’re going through. When you make friends with other pros who do what you do, you’ll create a circle for yourself that feels safe and open to new creative ideas.
- Give yourself a break. Yep, this one needs to be included in the list because, as a writer, I know how hard we are on ourselves! We are our own harshest critics, but when we give ourselves a break from all the pressure of producing perfect words, we can free our thoughts and release the creativity that’s a part of us.
- Read a good book. If you don’t feel like writing, read. For centuries, writers have absorbed the beautiful words of others and used them for inspiration. It’s not cheating; it’s learning from those who have gone before us. Give yourself permission to take a time-out and read something inspiring or provocative to help you jump-start your inner creativity.
There are many ways to bust a creative slump, but taking a nap isn’t one of them! I’ve been guilty of escaping into oblivion when words just wouldn’t cooperate with me. But how much do we get done when we’re napping, shopping, or avoiding the fact that Merriam-Webster is apparently no longer our friend? Not a lot.
So, dear writer, pick yourself up by your bootstraps and find a way to make your words work their magic again! There’s a big difference between being stagnant and taking a planned creative break. Sometimes giving yourself the tools you need to keep creating and generating awesome ideas begins with a tiny step back. Because after that, you’ll take GIANT strides forward.
Keep on creating, writer!