How do you find the muse when your creative energy is zapped, sapped or tapped out?
Try these 20 tips to escape the doldrums and start writing again:
1. Clean your desk. There’s a scientific link between mess and stress. Alternatively, a clean, tidy workspace can make you feel relaxed and hopeful. The next time you’re feeling stuck, grab the Lysol instead of opening a Word doc.
2. Go for a walk. A bit of brisk exercise can snap you out of a sluggish funk—and provide a jolt of creative writing energy.
3. Add a book to your Evernote list. Sometimes even the anticipation of reading is enough to buoy your spirits. Whenever you see a positive review of a book, clip it to an Evernote file to track books for future reading.
4. Read an article. If you’re stalled on a piece of writing or feeling uninspired, try reading a well-written article from a publication that inspires you.
5. Do something for a loved one or colleague. The writing life can be solitary and confining, which can make you primarily inward focused. Doing something for someone else—whether mundane or germane to work—can often get you unstuck.
6. Celebrate small victories. Every time you finish something on your list—no matter how small—take a moment to bask in satisfaction. Pat yourself on the back. Pour a celebratory coffee. Crossing tasks off your list always elicits a nice jolt of adrenaline.
7. Eat a handful of almonds or a tablespoon of peanut butter. High-protein, high-fat snacks are much better than empty carbs at providing reliable energy.
8. Listen to a peppy piece of music. The best music to listen to at work is a matter of heated debate, so just pop on a piece that brings you joy.
9. Exhale, then take a deep breath. Our brains require a great deal of oxygen to work properly. Before you begin writing, spending a few minutes breathing deeply and mindfully.
10. Drink a cup of coffee. If you’re giving a presentation, steer clear of the caffeine. If you’re struggling to put pen to paper, however, a jolt of joe can kick-start your productivity.
11. Have a glass of plain soda water with ice. If you’re keen to kick that diet soda habit, try a nice glass of bubbly water instead. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle whatever project awaits.
12. Roll on a ball and stretch. Writers can suffer from numerous types of pain associated with sitting for too long. Take frequent breaks to stretch or roll on an exercise ball to keep your muscles loose and limber.
13. Bend forward in your chair for 30 seconds. This movement relaxes your back and gets the blood flowing to your brain, which facilitates cognition.
14. Turn on more lights. When you need a boost, turn on all the lights in your workspace. Brighter lights can improve your mood and increase your energy.
15. Make a to-do list—every day. Don’t just wing it. Try to strategize your day by slicing it up into manageable segments and tasks. Creating a to-do list takes more time and preparation, but you’ll be more efficient, effective and energetic in your work.
16. Laugh. What tickles your funny bone or brings you delight? Instead of despairing about the workday ahead, take a minute to watch a funny video. A hearty laugh is often the best medicine for a dreary, defeatist attitude.
17. Pay attention to the temperature. Cold air can make you drowsy. If your workspace is an icebox, keep a sweater nearby.
18. Check your posture. Do you hunch as you type? Be intentional about sitting up as straight as possible, and take frequent breaks throughout the day. Poor posture can cause numerous painful conditions. Good posture, however, pumps up your energy and reduces back pain.
19. Take a language lesson. Recently, I’ve been doing at least one DuoLingo French lesson every day. The software is free, and the gamelike lessons are quick. Whichever dialect you choose, learning a new language can improve all sorts of brain functions.
20. Do a New York Times mini crossword. You might not have time to complete an entire puzzle, but The New York Times publishes a wonderful mini crossword you can knock out in 10 minutes tops. It’s a fun way to swiftly boost brain power.
Every writer is different, and each person will find certain activities either draining or invigorating—so find out what gets your engine going. Please share in the comments what you do to get a jolt of creative energy.
This post first appeared on the The Publication Coach blog.