7 Hacks to Unleash Creative Thinking (When Writers Need It Most)

7 hacks to unleash creative thinking (when writers need it most). Makealivingwriting.com

You’re on deadline. You must finish your article on time. That’s when your creative thinking decides to take a leave of absence. And it does so with no notice.

You’re stuck. You have to write, but you just stare at the computer screen and your fingers do not move.

Every writer has been in this situation. But knowing you aren’t alone won’t help you finish your piece and turn it in on schedule.

These seven creativity hacks will, though.

1. Get out of the box

A recent study showed that people who sit outside a box—literally—have out-of-the-box ideas. The odd location stimulated their creativity.

Even if you don’t usually write in a box (cardboard or cubicle), work somewhere different. Go to a coffee shop, your porch, or another room. Or try sitting on the floor with your back against your office door.

2. Engage in a creative endeavor

Do something (other than writing) that encourages your creativity to show up. Researchers have found that a side project makes you more creative in other areas of your life—like writing.

I know you are on deadline, but make the time—even 15 minutes—to garden, draw, make jewelry, create videos, or write a poem, for example. You’ll return to your article with new creative energy and focus.

3. Listen to music

Listening to music helps stir your creative juices because it stimulates the right side of the brain while you use the left side of your brain to write. A whole-brain approach improves creativity.

Some people like upbeat music, others like something softer. Mozart has been proven to tap into your creative abilities as well as your ability to focus.

4. Change your position

Most writers spend their time sitting at a desk in front of a computer. To enhance your creativity, change your position. For instance, work lying down or reclining. Researchers discovered that people solve problems more quickly when lying down rather than sitting up.

If that doesn’t work, stand up and write. Writing on your feet is good for your health, and being upright while writing generates new ideas, focus, and creative energy.

5. Move your body

Sitting at a desk for hours trying to meet a deadline is not a super way to stimulate creativity—or circulation, for that matter. Instead, stand up every 30 to 60 minutes.

Then move your body. Dance, do yoga or tai chi, take a short walk, or march in place. Do some deep breathing exercises on your break if you aren’t exercise inclined.

The point is to get some oxygen to your brain. It can’t deliver brilliant creative thinking if you don’t oxygenate it periodically.

6. Get visual

Writers can spend too much time using the left side of their brain, especially if they are working on projects that require analysis. To stimulate creativity, engage the right side of the brain in solving your project problems visually.

For instance, use a mind map to plan out your article or a troublesome section of your project. Get some crayons or colored pencils and draw a picture related to the place in your current project where you feel stuck. See what ideas pop into your head in the process.

7. Do something mindless

When you aren’t focused on your writing project—or on anything in particular, new ideas bubble forth. That’s why you get ideas in the shower, while vacuuming or walking.

Take a fifteen-minute break and do something mindless. Allow your mind to wander, and pay attention to the thoughts that float through your mind when it is unfocused.

One or more of these strategies are sure to entice creative thinking back into your workspace. And you’ll know what to do the next time your creativity walks away when you need it most.

What do you do to stimulate your creativity? Leave a comment and let us know.

Nina Amir is an Amazon bestselling author of such books as How to Blog a Book, The Author Training Manual and Creative Visualization for Writers. She’s the founder of National Nonfiction Writing Month and the Nonfiction Writers’ University. Learn more at www.ninaamir.com or find her books at www.booksbyninaamir.com.

7 hacks to unleash creative thinking (when writers need it most)

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47 comments on “7 Hacks to Unleash Creative Thinking (When Writers Need It Most)
  1. Rene says:

    Write quickly and write messy – these advice were given to me long time ago.

    Write a little bit faster than your thought formation, even if it’s a little uncomfortable. Messy handwriting is welcome. What do you think of it?

  2. Amar kumar says:

    Hey Carol,

    Our brains need to be relaxed in proper interval of time, to create new connections and neural pathways. Most of us find it hard to think out of the box is because our brains are just too darn efficient. Logic is always our default go to tool when coming up with ideas, even though the best ones often emerge from intuition and association. Exercise also helps us to perform better cognitively, improving creative thought. Eventually, thanks for sharing your healthy experience with us.

    With best wishes,

    Amar kumar
    Amar kumar recently posted…How to Make Money Flipping Domain NamesMy Profile

  3. Hailey says:

    Great ideas! Several years ago I read a book that advised you to “write junk” whenever you get stuck. “My thumb itches, and I’m getting hungry. I wonder if it will rain today. The sky looks quite overcast.” It can be whatever comes into your mind–the idea is just to keep the words flowing somehow!

    • Nina Amir says:

      Yes,that strategy works for many people, Haily. I prefer to try not to write junk…but I don’t want to stress myself, which could cause my creativity to diminish. So I just start writing and don’t worry about if it is good or not. Usually it is good…but if I tell myself to “write junk” that’s what I produce.
      Nina Amir recently posted…Monday Inspiration: Become Your Best SelfMy Profile

  4. Abby Page says:

    Whenever I find myself with writer’s block, the deep-down reason for it is a lack of confidence. It’s not that I’m literally not thinking of anything to write, it’s that my subconscious is shooting everything down before I can give it a chance. What I’ve been doing is telling myself, ok, write what you need to write in the dumbest/cheesiest way possible. It just takes a lot of pressure off of me, and then I can write around it and delete it later.

  5. Burton Bliven says:

    I have a toolkit of activities I do for spawning creativity.

    First, I practice Tai Chi for 20 minutes. I find the combination of exercise and meditation (I call it “Meditation in Motion”) gives me peace, clarity and creativity.

    Next, I make a cup of my favorite herbal tea, and I put on Mozart and prioritize my day.

    The I write, usually for about an hour, then out in my backyard and walk the trail around a ridge. Being out in nature is my #1 creativity booster.

    I also do some of my finest writing in a lounge chair under an umbrella at my favorite beach, though unfortunately, that is seasonal.

  6. Felix Abur says:

    Engaging in a creative endeavor always works for me. Especially when I need to create a new post for my dog pet blog. All I have to do is take out my dog, have fun, and bang! I get fresh new ideas. And it’s good physical, emotional, and mental stimulation that benefits all my other writing

  7. Hey! These are some great tips! Thanks for compiling them. One note: there is a minor typo in item 3. It reads “Some people like upbeat music, other like something softer.” It should read “others.”

    I plan on implementing the odd location tomorrow. Seems like a great way to stimulate new and different thoughts by breaking out of your otherwise mundane plans.

  8. Evan Jensen says:

    That’s awesome. When you recognize a simple change like moving to a different spot to work, or taking care of household chores, it really can make a difference.

    Never thought about setting a timer on household chores. But what a good idea. Thanks.

  9. Nanouk says:

    Just like another commented says: I do some household chores to get my creativity flowing. While folding laundry I get the best ideas, always! Great way to increase my productivity and keep the house tidy 😉
    Nanouk recently posted…Niche site vs Authority site: can I really call myself a ‘niche blogger’?My Profile

  10. Amy Hardison says:

    Thanks for these awesome tips! I totally agree about switching up position. I was recently trying to work on a project first at my desk, then at my kitchen table. I just couldn’t get going, so I went and set myself up on the couch and BOOM – everything started coming together. And I’m also a proponent of taking care of a few household tasks for a short amount of time. I also set a timer so I don’t go overboard on the housework. 🙂

  11. Evan Jensen says:

    Hi Nina,

    Great ideas here. I know what it’s like to get stuck on a writing project and feel like the creative mojo has run out (something being talked about in the Den right now). But when you’re up against a deadline, you’ve got to figure out how to get the job done.

    On days when I work from home, a messy house drives me totally crazy, and makes it hard for me to write. My solution: A 30-minute house-cleaning blitz (which usually involves picking up all the kid clutter, making beds, and doing the dishes).

    My other go-to diversion to get clear on a writing project, going for a long run, rain or shine.

    • Carol Tice says:

      It’s interesting to me to see people talk about the clutter cleanup issues. I really try to avoid house chores during my work day, and if someone has left a mess, I’ll often relocate to another room to work and just leave it for them.

      The one thing I WILL do is if I’m waiting for tea to boil or something, or while I’m waiting for kids to get to breakfast table, I’ll do a quick kitchen cleanup or start a load of laundry or fold, to feel like that’s out of the way.

      • Nina Amir says:

        I don’t do housework during the day…to be clear! But if the clutter is really getting to me, I’ll de-clutter my office. I used to spend a lot of time once per week cleaning and de-cluttering so I could focus, though, so I understand the desire to clean. I just think that clean space lends itself to being more creative and productive…especially if you can’t focus on work because of the mess.

        That’s when a brief (I’d say 15-min.) clean up session can work well–especially if you approach it with the intention of allowing ideas to flood your mind as you vacuum or fold clothes.

        If you saw my house these days, Carol, it would be apparent that nothing but work gets done most days–writing work.
        Nina Amir recently posted…Monday Inspiration: Become Your Best SelfMy Profile

        • Carol Tice says:

          LOL — I think at some point we have to decide if we want to be working moms, or we want houses that are ready for a magazine photo shoot. I choose the former. And I like teaching kids to pick up after themselves. 😉

      • I do my housework (not counting dishes, laundry, and other things that are pretty hard to ignore for long) on a 15-minutes-a-day-before-starting-work schedule, which also provides morning exercise. In a small one-person apartment, that means floors, dusting, etc., get fully completed every 2-4 weeks, which is a lot better than the 3-6 months I was averaging before!
        Katherine Swarts recently posted…Caring Content, 9/27/16My Profile

    • Nina Amir says:

      Yes! See my comment above. Also, have a notebook nearby. Housework is mindless work- like being in the shower!-and the best ideas bubble up then.
      Nina Amir recently posted…Your Struggle for Perfect Makes You Miss Out on ResultsMy Profile

  12. I frequently find my creative blocks are directly related to letting my mundane chores stack up while I’m busy with my business. To get back on track, I do something like fold load of clothes or start a load of laundry and empty the dishwasher. All are mindless tasks, but they also take the weight of unfinished chores off of my mind. Ultimately, balance seems to be the most important thing for keeping myself on track.

  13. Rohi says:

    Hi Nina,
    Great tips! One strategy I use is something I call “Rapidfire.” When I’m feeling distracted or disinclined to do anything (which is more often that I care to admit :-)]), I rapidly switch from one activity to another – exercise five minutes, meditate five minutes, free write five minutes, sketch five minutes, and so on. It helps to get me back on track and since each activity is only five minutes, resistance doesn’t kick in.
    Rohi recently posted…Beyond Satisfaction – Book ReviewMy Profile