Day 14: Share with us your strategies for overcoming writer’s block.
There are two basic things I do to overcome creative challenges, and they work in almost any combination:
- Get away from computer.
- Engage body.*
First order of business is a change of scenery. That allows time to step back and space in which to do it. It’s a mental refresher.
Second item: engage the body. Easiest fix ever.
Often when I’m stuck it’s simply because I’ve grown restless. It’s not good for our bodies or our metal processes to be sedentary for long periods of time. They shut down. In fact, from a holistic point of view, doing the notorious “butt-in-the-chair” writer thing is terrible not just for our health but for our writing, too! How do you spell counterproductive? C-H-A-I-R.
NPR suggests taking routine hourly breaks, even for just a few minutes at a time, to get up, stretch, shake your limbs, lift weights, dance, march in place, etc.—anything to get moving! A little movement goes a long way as far as getting the blood (and thus creative juices) circulating.
*A few of my favorite ways to engage the body:
- Go for a walk or a run. A little time alone with your thoughts—and exercise to boot—can be the perfect solution. Go on, grab some vitamin D and fill your lungs with fresh air while you’re at it! Who knows: when you change your scenery and break the mold, you might even see something that resolves your problem or gives you new idea altogether! Inspiration is a lot easier to find when you’re out in the world looking for it.
- Play guitar. I have a strap. I stand up to play, and when I get into a song I’ll often start stepping or bobbing in time. More importantly though, music engages a different part of the brain than writing. Especially when it comes to playing an instrument and muscle memory is involved, you’re really delving into the creative, intuitive part of your brain. How better to overcome a creative block than to get in touch with your subconscious and intuition?
- Do laundry. Alright. Nothing special about this one. I just figure, if I’m not making any progress in my writing, I might as well do something else productive! Acceptable alternatives: make tea, bake cookies, feed the birds, water the plants, play with your pet, practice shufflin’.
What do you do in a creative jam?
P.S. Right after I posted this, WordPress gave me this quotation:
“My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.”
I rest my case.