We’ve all been there. Sitting down to write and staring at the blank screen. The words just won’t come. The endless distractions around the room. The boundless expanse of the world wide web to explore. But you just can’t find the nugget of an article you want to write.
The same can be said for most creative processes.
Don’t get me wrong, the creative process is by no means easy. Especially in a world of short attention spans and endless distractions. There are however, a few key things that come in handy when you want to get your creative juices flowing.
Ideas, especially for writing, can really come from anywhere.
1. Set aside time to think
We often spend so much time in action and reaction mode that we seldom take time to think.
“Setting aside time to think? — I cannot afford such luxuries”
But taking the time to think about ourselves, our place in the world and how we want to strategically move forward is a much too overlooked virtue.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” — Abraham Lincoln
When we rush into things, not only is it detrimental on a strategic level, it takes from us the ability to think and formulate our ideas and actions thoroughly. By continuously reacting to our environment throughout the day, we give little in the way of thought as to how we can proactively shape ideas that would otherwise never get prioritized.
This is why actually scheduling time to think can be so important. It can be as simple as sitting on your porch with a cup of coffee. You can take it to the next level by grabbing a pen and paper and doing some journaling of your thoughts. If you have some big ideas, you can even do a whole mind mapping session and create a list of action steps that you can take away and start working on. The intricacies of how you set it up are up to you. The important thing is that you set aside the time for it.
2. Observe, observe, observe
There are so many things that happen in the symphony that is our every day life. So much of it goes completely unnoticed by us. Think about all the conversations happening in a busy cafe, all of the characters you see on your commute to work, all of the food you eat in a day and where it originated from, heck, even that leaf blowing in the wind has a vast story behind its blossom and decay.
“The most dangerous person is the one who listens, thinks and observes.” — Bruce Lee
The point is that there is always so much going on in our immediate environment, that sometimes, we just need to stop and observe it all for a moment. You would be surprised with how many ideas can come to you from simply observing the goings around you. There really is a story in everything. You just need to tease it out a little.
3. What was the last thing someone asked for your help on?
Often times we don’t realise that the things that come most natural to us are our strengths and we take it for granted that everyone is not built the same.
Think about the last time someone asked you for help with something. Or the last time someone asked for your opinion on a certain topic. Why did they ask you and what was your response? Were you able to help them and what was the outcome. Was it because of your expertise in a certain field? Or was it simply that they just needed a hand… either way, thinking about what others seek you out for can be a great way to hone in on your own strengths and get your creative juices flowing.
4. Go for a walk
This is one of my favourite — and it is especially true if you have been cooped up inside for a few hours and have not gotten outside at all. Going out for a walk — or even a run if you are adventurous — is a great way to break the cycle of mental block.
There is so much that can be gleaned from nature and the people in the world around us that helps to ignite the creative flame. It can be as simple as a beautiful sunset or a walk in the hills that reminds us of life’s simple pleasures and draws out from us a yearning to create something ourselves.
5. Listen to some of your favourite music
There is something I have noticed lately when it comes to listening to my favourite music and artists. The more I listen to them, the more I resonate with their story and the creation process they have gone through in creating their music. I can feel the passion that has gone into putting a track or record together. I can pick up on the nuances of their own story and see how so much of that applies to my own life, and indeed the lives of us all.
While we are all so different and so unique, yet we all share the common story of our humanity. Music captures this so well and emulates the creative spirit in us all.