What to Do When the Creative Juices Stop Flowing

Writer’s block — it happens to the best of us.

When the words start coming, all motivation disappears.  After all, writing is what you’re supposed to be good at, right?  If you can’t do that, what can you do?

Writer’s block got the best of me this past weekend.  I was working on an article for a client and I just couldn’t make the right words come.  I got something down on paper, but it honestly wasn’t good.  I sat on my couch all day Saturday watching One Tree Hill reruns just trying to come up with something.  But still the words didn’t come.

Monday morning I read a blog post by Donald Miller about just making yourself write because you never know when the magic is going to happen.  He said that some days it comes and some days it doesn’t, but you never know until you try.  So, I strapped on my can-do attitude and sat down at my desk, and — guess what?

Nothing happened.  There were still no words in my fingers.

I typed my name a few times and then the phrase “I suck” before closing my computer and going for a walk.  While I was walking, I talked on the phone to my sister and played with a puppy I found on the path.  Then I struck up an intellectual conversation with the dog’s owner (not usually my preference for a Monday morning, but why not).  Before going home I stopped by my favorite bakery for a chocolate chip muffin.

Once I got home, I begrudgingly sat down at my computer, and something amazing happened.  My writing was better!  It was refreshed and insightful; I sounded enthusiastic instead of obliged; and I wrote faster than before.  I submitted my article that afternoon and almost instantly received positive feedback from the client.

This week, I learned something:  you have to live life well to write about it well.  Sitting on the couch for days on end is not going to breed literature that sounds inspired.  Only an inspired life can do that.

I suppose I have always known this to an extent, but for the first time in my life I found myself needing to check myself on it.  So, if you are having a creative blockage of some sort, if you feel unmotivated and uninspired, try doing one of the following things:

1. Get some exercise.  I don’t mean that you need to run a marathon (I sure can’t), but go for a walk or a swim.  Your blood will pump and fill your brain with the creative juices you need.

2. Call a friend or family member.  You don’t even have to talk about your work.  Just talk, and hopefully you will get excited enough to feel motivated.

3. Try something new.  Taking a step in a completely new direction will allow your brain to tap into creativity mode, helping your work and your outlook.

4. Read.  It doesn’t even need to be within the same genre you are trying to write.  Read until you find a new word, and then try to find a way to make that word work in your writing.  Or just read for the fun of it!

Of course, this list is far from exhaustive.  What do you do to stay inspired?

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