Trust me, we’ve all been there.
You try and try, but the words aren’t coming. For whatever reason the writing today is too much of a struggle…
And you need a break.
I was there one day last month when I tried to write a new scene in my latest work-in-progress. I started the scene in the morning, but it didn’t feel right, so I left my laptop for a few hours.
I came back to it around two o’clock, got about 500 words down, but it still wasn’t flowing the way I wanted it to.
It wasn’t until after I took a jog with my dogs and read for about half an hour that I finally figured out what was wrong with the scene — I had started it in the wrong place — and I was then able to write about 1200 words in forty-five minutes time, the words finally pouring out of me.
Sometimes the writing comes naturally. You’re able to get your words down early in the morning, and before lunchtime your work for the day is done.
Other days, the writing is a major struggle. It feels like homework. The creative juices, for whatever reason, just aren’t flowing.
So what activities should you take on if you step away from the laptop but still want to boost your creativity for the day?
1. Read books.
This is the big one. The one that really works.
If the words aren’t coming, grab a book — any book — and just read for thirty minutes. Get lost in the story, in the language.
Turn your writer brain off and just read, read, read.
I do this every time I’m struggling with my writing. Often, when I’m writing the first draft of a book, I’ll read for thirty to forty minutes before I begin writing every day. It really does help.
And it’s fun, too!
2. Watch a great movie.
If you need a break from writing, make yourself a snack and put on a great film. It doesn’t have to be a movie about a writer. It doesn’t have to be an Academy Award winner.
It can be a comfort movie. A movie that you’ve seen twenty times before.
A comedy, or a drama. A horror film. It can be a genre that has nothing to do with the genre you write in.
I always get story ideas when I watch a great movie. Watching a movie helps you relax while also allowing your mind to start racing with superb ideas and possibilities.
This is my other major go-to. If the writing isn’t coming, and I need to take a breather, one hour of exercise will truly work wonders.
When it’s sunny out, I love to go for an hour run with my dogs around my neighborhood. I love the way I feel after I return from the jog. I feel confident, like I can do anything.
And often after the run I want to sit down and write, even if I already completed my writing earlier in the day!
The kind of exercise you do can be anything you want. Going to the gym. Yoga. A sport you adore.
Whatever works, do it! You’ll be surprised how much exercise makes the creative juices flow.
4. Take a shower and change your outfit.
This is my go-to if I want a quick fix.
If I’m determined to write a scene and for whatever reason, it’s not working. If the idea for how to finish it isn’t coming to me.
Sometimes you need to just clear your head for ten minutes. And yes, sometimes it’s a matter of what you’re wearing, too.
A ten-minute shower can work wonders. Aaron Sorkin has mentioned in interviews it’s what he does when he gets blocked.
Another idea? Change your outfit. You don’t even have to shower if you don’t want to.
Sometimes when I’m writing in my pajamas, I start to feel funny around lunchtime, and so just a quick change to my gym shorts or to jeans will make the writing come more naturally. Don’t ask me why!
5. Take a nap.
It’s really hard to do good writing if you’re tired. Hell, it’s hard to write anything when you’re tired.
Once in awhile, maybe every three weeks or so, for whatever reason I sleep horribly, and the next day is a struggle for me just to get through, let alone try to be creative.
When your head feels like it weighs fifty pounds, writing ten sentences is like being asked to write ten pages.
So if you’re tired and not feeling the creativity? If at all possible, take a nap. It can be a short nap.Twenty to thirty minutes even.
If nothing else is working to boost your creativity, a little sleep might be all you need!