The Creative Sweet Spot is Not on Any Map, but These 4 Simple Tips Can Help Get You There.
On getting in the “zone,” clearing cognitive cobwebs, and overcoming writer's block.
To a writer, a blank page is scarier than an ax-wielding clown. Okay, maybe not THAT terrifying, but close. (depending if the monster is in a movie we’re watching or directly behind us)
There’s just something daunting about sitting down to an empty sheet of paper or blinking cursor bouncing off of a stark white computer screen and attempting to birth a batch of word babies.
Somedays, they miraculously push their way past nurse “edit” and doctor “do-little”…and deliver themselves — perfectly.
More often, however, they’re breech — turned the wrong way, upside down; a tangled, topsy turvy mass of random thoughts and ideas struggling to enter the world in a presentable if not beautiful way.
I know a tremendously talented mixed media artist who says she combats blank canvas anxiety by dipping her brush in whatever color she’s drawn to and quickly swipes it across the canvas before her finicky mind tells her otherwise.
I love that trick; get something on the page.
Below are a few additional, highly effective methods that I use for getting the creative juices flowing. May they inspire you also.
- I pick up whatever book, magazine or, newspaper within reach, close my eyes and point to a random page or paragraph. Whatever word my finger has landed on, I begin a sentence with it. You’ll be surprised how easily ideas flow from a single whimsical word.
- Choose a headline and create your own story around it. For instance, I recently saw this headline: “Naked gunman opens fire at local Waffle House.” (yes, it was a real story). You can see how easy it is to build a story around an eye-popping headline.
- Look through local obituaries; find a picture of the deceased and create a story about them. I find it much easier to write about someone I can visualize. It’s a lazy writer’s trick and a highly effective one — at least for me.
- Set a timer. Give yourself a deadline and write like your fingers are on fire! Unleash whatever thoughts come to mind. Birth those ideas whose time has come — the “babies” who’ve been incubating for weeks, months, or even years — sparked perhaps by an overheard conversation, book passage or, life event, and throw in all the juicy details — for that’s where the magic lives. While writing, do NOT edit. Allow it to flow out of you without restraint. You can edit later. The goal is to get words on paper, that is all.
Whether it’s a poem, short story, or blog post, these exercises fuel my creative tank with a never-ending supply of inspiration, and I hope they help you as well.
Easy breezy, right? Let’s get started!