You sit down at your computer, open your work in progress and . . . nothing. Not a word, not a sentence, not an idea comes to mind. You reread what you wrote yesterday. Still nothing. In frustration you sit and stare at the screen panicking because this is the only time you’ve got in your busy day to write. If this sounds familiar to you, let me suggest two options that may help rid you of writer’s block and unleash your creativity.
I’ll be honest, I’ve tried to develop a meditation practice for over three years with no success. Mostly because of the what I assumed meditation had to look like: laying on the floor or in lotus position with complete silence wasn’t something that was always achievable. What I’ve discovered is that environment and habit forming both play a role in maintaining a meditation practice. Choose a spot that is available on a daily basis. For me, it’s the chair in my office. That’s right, I meditate where I spend the rest of my day. This works for a number of reasons. It’s not out of my way (like the basement where I first attempted to make this a habit). It involves no preparation. I don’t have to get out pillows and bolsters, I simply sit in my chair and begin. With no preparation required, I have no decisions to make or reject. I simply need to sit down.
Using an app has also helped with my practice. I use the Calm app, but there are plenty of others on the market. What I like about Calm is each day has a different theme and focuses on a different meditation technique. The background of ocean waves has become a trigger for my habit. When I hear those waves I almost instantly begin to sink into a meditative state. Calm has a variety of backgrounds for you to listen to if waves aren’t your thing. Tamara Levitt has a wonderful voice for guiding you through the session, but you have others to choose from as well.
Meditating calms my mind and prepares me for my writing session. It clears the cobwebs of sleep that may be lingering and I begin with no anxiety or worry. These sessions take only ten minutes and leave you refreshed and ready for the day.
The second habit that will unlock your creativity is journaling or morning pages as Julia Cameron calls them in her book, “The Artist’s Way.” Cameron suggests thirty minutes of stream of consciousness writing before you begin any creative endeavor and it works.
It will take some time to develop stream of consciousness writing. You may have the tendency to filter your thoughts as if your writing is going to be read by someone else. An easy solution for this is to burn or rip up your pages when they are completed. This encourages honesty and gets right to the heart of how you are feeling. An important step for creatives.
Your pages may take the form of a to-do list or a rant about your spouse. It doesn’t matter what you write about, the important thing is to get rid of the thoughts that are taking up your thinking power. Mel Robbins’ “brain dump” is a similar activity and can take less longer. The list allows you to prioritize your day by getting all those items you’re storing in your head and allows you to focus on what’s important before you start the day.
Whichever way you choose, be warned that it takes time, so don’t give up if it doesn’t work immediately. It’s taken me three months of developing these practices every day and I only recently started to really see the benefits.
But if you stick with it, incorporating these two habits into your morning routine will add between twenty and forty minutes to your day, but I can guarantee they are minutes well spent and will free up your energy to create.