When I experienced my first blank page combined with a crazy amount of WTF is going on?! I freaked out.
“I’ve always been able to write. What’s going on? This is insane! This blank page is sitting there intimidating me. Ugh.”
Every creative at some point has experienced creative blocks. It’s frustrating, a confidence killer, and can lead to lots of procrastination as you try to find your muse again.
I am the queen of creative blocks and have stared down many a blank page. You too?
I feel your pain.
Finding your way out of a creative block box can be frustrating but not impossible. There are many tools, tips and tricks to keep you at your most inspired. I’ve tried almost all of them – unless of course, there’s some weird mountain trekking the Himalyas whilst telling stories aloud or jumping out of planes screaming at the moon and stars to grant you your creative genius back – haven’t done those.
When you experience creative blocks, there are several things going on in that big ol’ brain of yours:
1. Too much on your brain
2. Stress or anxiety – see #1
4. Procrastination – see # 3
I believe that our biggest creative block is fear. This four letter F word is worse than the other that ends in K.
Fear has stood in the way of many a creative endeavor for me and the best solution is to find out why. When I start procrastinating, complaining my muse is gone, and have more blank pages than a brand new Moleskine, I objectively look at what’s going on (or not going on) in my life.
The top two creativity killers for me are a bad diet and lack of exercise.
How To Channel Your Muse
Is your diet still healthy or have bad foods crept back in? Sugar, caffeine and diary are problems for me. Too much caffeine and I can’t concentrate. Dairy gives me an allergic reaction and makes me feel crappy in general. Cut out what doesn’t work or has negative side effects for you.
Am I drinking, smoking or <insert other bad vice here> too much? A glass of wine is great but make it a bottle a night habit and you can be bound for bad health and mood swings.
How often and how long am I exercising? Human beings need a minimum of 30 minutes a day. Get outdoors and away from your Netflix addiction.
What is my confidence level like? This directly relates to exercise. If I’m feeling crummy in and about my body, my confidence goes down.
Am I stuck in comparisonville? Oh my friends, this is public enemy #1. Once you start comparing, you’ll begin to believe you have nothing valuable to say, write or create. When this happens, I recommend a social media detox. Take a few days (or even a week) off social media and reading other blogs. It’ll do wonders for getting your muse back.
Can’t stay off social media? For those of you that use social media for blogs or businesses, staying away can be a challenge. In that case, limit your intake to certain times (or one time) per day. I find that mornings are BAD for me to look at social media. Starting my day scrolling through Instagram and Twitter are a no-no and confidence crusher. Try the Tim Ferris method and check in at Noon and 4PM.
Now that you’ve figured out where your roadblocks are, and what potentially might be holding you back, it’s time to fix the damage and call the muse back.
Tools, Tips and Tricks to Smash Your Creative Blocks
1. Morning Pages.
Yep, I’m going here as many have before me. Once I started doing Julia Camerons’s The Artist’s Way Morning Pages, I was hooked and found I had stuff to write about. The whole premise is that you do a brain dump first thing in the morning. Just blather on about anything in a journal for 15 minutes or 3 pages to clear your mind for creativity. If you’re on a budget, there’s no need to go out and buy the book or a special journal, feel free to grab any old notebook and start writing.
2. Writers Retreat
A change of scenery can work wonders for your creative genius. This doesn’t have to be expensive either. I’ve driven to the lake to sit and write, booked a free room at the library, gone to a local Starbucks very early in the morning, and I’ve even sat on the front porch or in the backyard.
Sarah Von Bargen at Yes and Yes highly recommends booking a weekend every month to stay in a low cost hotel (her budget? $40) an hour away from where you live. Groupon and Booking.com are perfect for finding something last minute and budget friendly.
Cait at Blonde on a Budget is on a solo writing retreat and has tips on how to prepare.
The key to any writers retreat is to remove all distractions – lose (or turn off) the smartphone, don’t access free WiFi and if necessary, block out coffee shop chatter with your iPod and fave music that gets creativity flowing.
3. Writers Devotional
The Writer’s Devotional is a wonderful little book I came across that gives you a new writing activity each day for a year. It’s designed to get your creative juices flowing AND improve your writing skills.
Consider this a mini writers retreat. The Artist Date is from Julia Cameron’s Artists Way program. Don’t do these with the intent to write, but instead go somewhere or do something creative. It can be something as simple as going to your local craft store and buying a few stickers to heading to an art gallery or museum. The idea is to go somewhere and do something that inspires you and sparks your curiousity.
5. Enlist a friend
Sometimes all it takes is your bestie to push you out of your comfort zone. Get together with a friend and do something you wouldn’t ordinarily do.
6. Try something else creative.
Maybe your brain just needs a different kickstart. Why not whip out one of those adult coloring books you have and start coloring, sometimes the focus on another activity can clear your mind and re-open your thoughts.
7. Walk, run, bike or hike.
Have you found that you are at your most creative when out for a walk or run? Me too. As soon as I step outside, the creative juices start flowing and ideas come to me.
Above all else, remain curious. If you’re experiencing a major creative block, try putting yourself in your readers shoes and asking the 5 W’s about them or the topic you’re writing about.