We all hit a creative wall sometimes.
Writers, especially, are prone to patches of parched productivity. If you’re feeling low, deflated or stuck in thick muck, don’t beat yourself up—and don’t just try to power through. Try something unexpected to refresh your creative zest.
Here are four ideas:
1. Get out into nature.
As noted smart person Albert Einstein wrote:
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
Many of us feel compelled to work ourselves to death, as if we can’t think of anything better to do than to grind our bodies, minds and souls into a fine, sad powder. When you’re feeling dry and depleted, take a day off. Get out into nature.
If you’re stressed, overwhelmed or just eager to revive your creative spark, take a hike (or a bike), pal.
Proactively guard your mental and physical health; the work will be there when you return.
2. Devour delicious micro-bites of writing.
My favorite in this category is The Guardian’s live soccer updates, a steady stream of highlights as events unfold throughout the match. The whiz-bang commentary is so vivid, so deliciously descriptive, you’ll feel as though you’re being transported to the pitch at Anfield, Nou Camp or whichever magisterial soccer cathedral.
Even if you couldn’t care less about “sumptuous headers” or “powerful strikes fizzed a whisk over the bar,” The Guardian’s staccato, raw, off-the-cuff updates will stir your emotions and spark imagination. At the very least, you’ll pick up some delightful phrases.
If footie’s not your thing, find other ways to consume small bites of delectable writing—feeding, you might say, on creativity tapas. Read a page or chapter of a classic novel. Peruse tweets composed by an eloquent person. Pick up a magazine. Look up quotations on a specific subject.
Make “consumption of tasty writing” part of your workweek diet.
3. Watch a bit of prestige telly.
I’m going out on a limb and saying that you’ll be least 10% more erudite after watching a full season of “Downton Abbey.”
Jokes aside, a 2015 study found that those who watched acclaimed dramas such as “Mad Men” and “The West Wing” showed improved cognition over those who did not.
If you’re feeling a bit burned out, feel free to plop down on the couch and pop on the telly. Ideally, select a show with wonderful storytelling, compelling dialogue or some redemptive content.
If your boss gives you the stink eye for taking a break to watch Sir David Attenborough sneak up on a sloth, you can honestly say that you’re busy increasing your brainpower.
4. Ask kids random questions.
Out of the mouths of babes, right?
If you’re suffering from writer’s block, ask the nearest child a question. Ask little Jonny or Suzy (more like Madysin or MacKeylin nowadays, right?) for their thoughts on a random subject.
You’ll probably get a delightful, unexpected, imaginative (possibly rambling) answer—and you might just get a spark of a great idea, too.
Little ones have a special knack for the kind of radical honesty and stream-of-consciousness thinking that adults are often too proud or self-protected to utter out loud. That childlike freeness of expression and creative courage are precious gifts—and we can all learn from them.