Three Ways to Reignite Our Writing
by Ingrid Schaffenburg
We all experience times when our writing just isn’t flowing, when it becomes a real effort just to put a coherent sentence together, and we fear we’ve lost our mojo. At times like this we begin to wonder if we’ll ever hit that zone again.
However, the longer we write, the more we realize that this is just a normal part of the creative cycle. We all have our good days and we all have our bad days. Even though we may be aware that it’s totally normal, sometimes we need a little reminder of how to get back into our groove. Here are a few suggestions to reignite your writing when you find yourself in a slump:
1. Switch It Up
If your daily routine starts to feel dull and monotonous, it may be time to switch it up. Try visiting a café you’ve never been to and find a cozy spot to hole up for the afternoon. I have a favorite independent coffee shop and bookstore near me called The Wild Detectives that’s so unique with its bungalow setting and thought-provoking reads that I get inspired every time I walk inside. They serve wine and beer in addition to their coffee, so I get to sip on a cabernet with my manuscript and imagine I’m Parisian for a day, which always helps my writing. No idea where to go? Visit sites like yelp.com or gogobot.com where you can search for a spot by area and read reviews.
If you’re adventurous you could take a day trip and really get out of your comfort zone. I’m willing to bet there’s a town nearby that’s just bursting with fascinating nuance; all it would cost you is a little extra gas and lunch for the afternoon. Spend some time strolling an historic downtown or mining a local antiques store and you’ll soon realize there’s a whole world out there you never knew existed. Travel of any kind is great for opening up the mind, which usually enhances our creativity.
2. Get Moving
One of the best ways to get unstuck is to get out of our heads and back in our bodies. Studies have shown time and again that the benefits of exercise affect our brains as much as our bodies. An increase in serotonin levels and a decrease in stress equals improved mental clarity. We all know this is a huge bonus when it comes to our writing.
I know some of us grumble at the idea of working out, but even taking a twenty-minute walk will do wonders for your mental state. So find ways to make it fun. Take a nature walk, buddy up with a friend, or look on groupon.com if you’re in or near a major city and find a great deal for something totally out there that you’ve never tried. They feature incredible buys on activities apart from regular gyms such as rock climbing, salsa, kickboxing, and burlesque. Heck, you may find your new workout improves more areas of your life than just your writing. That’s the beauty of it. The bottom line here is, if you make it fun, you’re more likely to make it a routine. Speaking of enjoyment, be sure to always…
3. Factor in the Fun
In Greg McKeown’s Essentialism, a book devoted to teaching us how to get more out of life by doing less, he dedicates an entire chapter to the benefits of play. McKeown points out that many famous inventors and artists such as Newton and Mozart stumbled upon brilliant ideas and creations when at play, since play allows the mind to open up. He quotes Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, as saying, “Play leads to brain plasticity, adaptability, and creativity. Nothing fires up the brain like play.” Brown has conducted studies that demonstrate “play has the power to significantly improve everything from personal health to relationships to education to organizations’ ability to innovate.” So for those of you who feel any amount of guilt including play in your daily schedule, just know that it’s good for all areas of your life, not just your writing.
I have to be very mindful about including play in my life. Since I am a Norwexican (part Mexican, German, and Norwegian), my friend Kristen Lamb used to joke that I didn’t know whether to clean or throw a party. I have to say that the Euro and Scandinavian side of me does win that argument most of the time, which is a good and bad thing. So if it’s difficult for you to make time for play, I get it. The hardest part for me has been learning how to balance that very efficient, hard working side of myself with·more siestas and fiestas.·Reading McKeown’s book really helped, but if you don’t have time for the read, his message is really simple: Get busy playing! It’s essential.
Ingrid Schaffenburg is a Dallas-based writer and television host who has a passion for helping others lead fuller, richer, more joyful lives. She holds a BS in journalism from Texas Christian University and has worked in entertainment for more than a decade. Her show, Wild about Barns, airs in January 2015. She currently blogs at ingridschaffenburg.wordpress.com.