The initial conversation about this guest post took place back about two months ago. At that point, I began to think of a hundred different topics that might fit with the theme of Annie Beth’s work, and came up with a few.
Then, life happened. Over the past few months, I’ve had difficult clients, kids’ events, a few minor disasters, and just “life stuff.” The result? It killed my creativity.
ALL Writing is Creative Writing
I don’t care if you’re a content creator, a resume crafter or the author of several novels. Every word you put down on paper is one that stems from your creative brain.
Unfortunately, everyday stressors have a tendency to zap that creativity right out of your system.
I was speaking with a client (who is also a freelancer and has become a close friend) about just this, not long ago. I described the feeling as “writer’s block.” He corrected me, answering that it’s not writer’s block, it’s just a plain old unwillingness to write.
Stress does that. Life does that. It’s scientifically proven that stress kills our creativity.
If you’ve been writing a while, you’ve probably got a few tricks up your sleeve. You’ve figured out a few ways to soldier through when you’re feeling that unwillingness to write.
If not, or if you’re new to writing or freelancing, maybe a few of my own tricks will help. Next time you sit down and are utterly and completely uninspired, see if one of these methods will jolt you back into productivity.
- Grab a notebook.
As a writer, it’s fair to assume that at least 80% of the work you do is online or on a computer. That said, it’s also pretty easy to assume that you’re fairly well “plugged in…” If you’re like me, your laptop is on your lap, your phone is to your left, and the news is on to your right.
One of the best ways I’ve found to get my tail back in gear is to grab a little $.50 notebook and a pen.
It doesn’t really matter what you write. For me, it’s helpful to scratch out a rough outline of the piece I’m working on, or even to just list all the pieces due that week.
What matters is that you turn off the electronics for a minute so that you can center your brain. There’s plenty of work you can do that doesn’t require an internet connection.
- Break up your routine.
Every now and then, it’s okay to take five minutes from your routine and break it up. After all, that’s the flexibility that you can now enjoy as a writer.
I have two vices. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I may choose to get up and wash my face. If that sounds weird, you may be right. But it’s five minutes that energizes me, makes me feel like a human. And, well, it makes me smell better, too.
If I’m not feeling like a day at the home spa, I’ll do dishes. Also weird, sure. But it allows me to rock out to my favorite music, look away from the screen, and get something done around the house.
What’s important is that you don’t get carried away. Use that time to think (lightly) about your project. You may find that your creativity is sparked a bit, and that when you sit back down you’re more willing and ready to write.
- Shake a tail feather.
Or just go for a walk. The increased blood flow to your brain is a great way to unleash a bit of creativity.
You don’t have to walk. You can dance, do jumping jacks, do the hokey pokey… whatever you like. Just stand up from your desk (or couch, or wherever you work) and move.
Physical activity is one of the best ways to not only bump your creativity up a notch, but also to feel good. When you feel good, you perform well. That’s true whether you’re a writer, a plumber or the CEO of Amazon.
This one’s difficult, particularly if you’re juggling a few projects at a time. But I’ve found that “un-prioritizing” my projects is a great way to boost creativity.
For instance, right now I’m due to write 5,000 words about a subject that’s as interesting as watching paint peel. It’s due today, and I’m only half done.
Am I working on it? Nope. I’m writing this guest post for Annie Beth. I know that, as I write this, my brain will start working a little better, and I’ll be more able to tackle the more mundane topics in a creative way.
- Just do it.
I’ll be the first to admit that just sitting down and writing is the best way to get over a creativity block. I get stubborn – I think to myself, “I don’t like that client’s website.” Or, “I could be making so much more money for this.”
Stop complaining. Sit down. Write. It works for me about 90% of the time. The biggest motivator to creativity for me is the electric bill. You don’t write? You don’t eat.
Whatever you choose to do to bump your creativity, remember that this is only temporary. You’re a writer for a reason. You’re good at it, and you like what you do. “Writer’s block” is just par for the course, and stress is as well.
Try a few different ways to work through it, then figure out what works best for you. The next time you feel that “unwillingness to write,” you’ll have an arsenal of tricks to choose from to pull right through.
My advice isn’t always as good as Annie Beth’s. But feel free to check out my no holds barred tips for freelance writers at www.shanathompson.com. You can also find me on Twitter at @STx3Content.
I appreciate Shana’s kind words! I enjoy being one of her followers because I know I will always be informed and entertained by her practical observations and conversational voice. So put down your cookie and go follow her now. (Don’t tell me I’m the only one holding a cookie…)