As a writer, I’m well-accustomed to creative blocks. I know what it’s like to sit at my desk, staring at the blinking cursor for what seems like hours. If you sometimes struggle to find creative motivation, I thought I would share the top three tips that help me get unstuck.
Ask others to help keep you accountable
I’ve completed NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) twice, which is something that still surprises me! The daily word count goals always seem impossible when I start, but at the end of the month I’ve written all 50,000 words that I’m supposed to. Honestly, I think the thing that gets me to the finish line is the fact that I have to post my daily word counts online. The community support is fantastic and really keeps me going, but I think the fear of public failure is my key. Maybe it’s not the cool answer, but for me it’s the truth! If you’re anything like me, you might benefit from a support/accountability network. Recruit a few trusted and honest friends to help you stay on track. To raise the stakes, you might try a site like stickK, where you set goals and can actually lose money if you don’t meet them.
(This year, I’m not officially doing NaNo. Instead, I’m doing a modified version for people who are in the middle of writing a novel. It’s not as focused on the word count as regular NaNo, but I still feel the shame if I have no progress to report to the group!)
Work on another creative project
I believe that creativity is a spectrum, and that it isn’t always expressed in just one way. For example, I’m a writer, but I also love photography. If I’m feeling creatively blocked, I find it can be very helpful to step away from my writing and spend a few minutes composing a photo, or take a walk to the nearest photogenic park. Sometimes the photo will inspire an idea in the novel I’m working on, or even a new idea for another project. I find that the simple process of creativity in one area can spark it in another. Not to mention, your brain relaxes its grip on the Big Problem you’re having, and that can free up space for your creativity to return.
Forget motivation altogether
Sometimes the weight I give to a thing becomes greater than the thing itself. When I have writer’s block, it’s often because I’ve put myself under too much pressure. I tell myself I have to write a certain amount of words, or write for X number of hours. But, as I wrote about in a previous blog post, any work related to my project sparks my creativity. I don’t even have to actually write any narrative. If I work on chapter outlines or create a character worksheet, I can get motivated to do more. It might feel counter-intuitive, but removing my own expectations of creative motivation helps. When I sit down and work on anything, it tells my brain that I’m ready, and something unlocks. Ask yourself: Is it better to work on your project for five minutes, or not at all? The answer could be liberating.
What about you? What are some of your go-to tips for finding motivation in your creative life?