You know that thing when you’ve been writing the same blah, blah, blah for so long that your fingers almost work on autopilot – it’s as if the (same, boring) words just appear there, of their own volition? Or when you find your own writing so mundane that you can’t stand to even proofread it? Or when your own work is entirely indecipherable from that of your colleagues or clients?
It’s time for a creative jolt! I’ve written here before about Writing Prompts for creativity, but now I am proposing another alternative:
When you need a burst of inspiration or creativity for your writing, sometimes the best thing you can do is to not write at all. When you walk away from your writing, even for a few minutes, you can return to it with deeper insight and fresh energy. Here are a few ideas for ways to hit the restart button on your creativity:
1. Walk around the block. Instead of spending that walk thinking about everything you have to do, want to do, or wish you had done... find 10 beautiful things. Colors, scenery, textures, sounds. 10 things.
2. Leaf through a travel magazine. Rip out a page or two, and post them next to your writing space.
3. Smell something. Anything.
4. Eat one square of a chocolate bar, or one m&m. Let it melt slowly in your mouth. Notice how it tastes, smells, and feels.
5. Stretch left. Then right.
6. Sing your favorite song from elementary school.
7. Notice your breath. Don’t alter it, by breathing more slowly or more quickly. Just notice it.
8. Give yourself a scalp massage.
9. Make a paper airplane. Fly it.
10. Notice how many things you can hear right now. How long of a list can you make?
11. Eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Does it remind you of anything?
12. Come up with a name for a new Ben & Jerry’s flavor.
13. Do a headstand. Or a cartwheel. Or a sommersault.
14. Make a “painting” out of the next five things you can get your hands on: White out? Nutella? Shampoo? Orange juice? Lipstick?
15. Draw a maze.
16. Make up your own palm reading, for your own palms.
17. Check out the clouds. What do they look like?
18. If you had to name the color of the sky right now, what would you name it?
19. Find something hot. Find something cold.
20. If you made an autobiographical album, what would it be called? What would be the names of the songs on it?
21. Tap dance. Tap shoes not required.
22. Pick a song, and play air guitar.
23. Try to name all of the characters in your favorite movie.
24. Feel something soft.
25. Come up with five other items for this list.
Of course, the Writing Prompts I’ve described also can do the trick! But sometimes the best thing you can do is to get out of that part of your brain. When you activate other parts of your mind, everything can come alive again.
Lauren Brownstein has worked in the non-profit community for more than 20 years as a fundraiser, educator, and program manager. She specializes in: helping grant seekers develop meaningful partnerships with funders, crafting outstanding grant proposals, and working with individual donors to help them make philanthropic contributions that reflect their interests and passions.