6 Tips to Help You Get Unstuck
Thanks to Joanne Miller, co-author of Be Your Finest Art: Awaken Your Creative Self, for this guest post.
Ever sit down in front of your computer, place your fingers on the keyboard and wait for the right words to drop from brain to fingertips, but you can’t get the juices flowing? Any writer, if truly honest, will admit to having moments—sometimes days (or more)—of blocked creativity. It happens to the best of us. This happens for a number of reasons, but there are ways to push through to renewed creativity that really aren’t that complicated or illusive. Perhaps these six tips will help you the next time you are staring at a blank screen and your fingers refuse to move.
1. Face Your Fear. Fear is a very serious and frequent cause for writer’s block. I’m not good enough. No one really cares what I might have to say. Our inner critic is always looming in the background waiting to lay into us, often dredging up nightmares of being criticized or made fun of for past attempts at being creative. I don’t believe God gives us the ability to create without giving us the tools with which to do it well. It may take time, research and training but if it is in us, it has to come out regardless of what that bad angel on your shoulder is whispering in your ear. Listen to your heart. No one knows your desires and passions better than you do.
2. Bite Off a Chunk. No one ever sits in front of his/her computer and writes a whole book in a night. It takes time. One popular author friend of mine says she has many folders in a file cabinet marked with topics pertinent to what she writes about. When she runs across an article that resonates with her or gets a great idea or thought on a subject, she places that information into the proper folder. When the folders begin to have some substance, she can easily put together a book. If you only write one chapter per month you can complete a book in a year and that is more than what most writers do.
3. Take Up a New Hobby. I began drawing classes after I was 50 years old. I had never drawn before and had no idea if I could. I was sixty before I took painting classes. Drawing was hard for me. Painting has been even harder. Neither of these creative outlets has come naturally to me as does writing. There is no doubt that I am a better writer than a fine artist. However, I feel strongly that tapping into my right brain through drawing and painting has enhanced my writing ability more than any writing course I have ever experienced. Anything I can do to stretch my right brain does nothing but help increase my ability to write with more imagination, description and excitement.
4. Never Underestimate the Power of Story. Gone are the days when people wrote generically, leaving out their own experiences. Enter the age of reality shows and telling all. Don’t get me wrong. Just telling one’s life experiences might be a nice journal to leave behind for the kids but probably won’t get you on the best-seller list. However, relating examples of life experience engaging the reader in a way that is relatable and gives hope and encouragement through transformation might! When you use examples of real-life people and experiences, it gives the reader a sense of empowerment. Storytelling is often an easy way to make an important point.
5. Be Realistic. Few writers become famous. Even fewer become wealthy through their writing. Most writers write because they have a burning desire to get their message out to others. If you have a great message but the thought of writing threatens a panic attack, find another way to be heard. Do a podcast, become a speaker for community groups, do short blog messages, or get a crate and stand on a street corner with a megaphone. Don’t try to be a writer if you don’t love it. You’ll only frustrate yourself and set yourself up for possible failure.
6. Do Something Mindless. My best ideas for writing come when I least expect them. Having writer’s block? Go clean out a closet or a drawer. Go mow the lawn. Take a long drive down a country road. Go on a walk. But be sure to have paper and pencil or a mini-recorder (most iPhones have that capability) nearby. You are bound to get a great idea or a breakthrough in what you thought was a major road block. Drain-o for the mind: Releases clogs so energy and words flow freely.
Joanne Miller is co-author with Dorsey McHugh of a new book on creativity titled Be Your Finest Art. She has also written four books in the children’s I Wanna Be series. Wife of author and career coach Dan Miller, Joanne is a speaker, writer, artist and Queen Mother in the 48 Days community.