We've all gotten cozy with a little thing called writer’s block before. From the school desk to the office cubicle, our brain has stalled out more times than we can count. And the more we try and focus on what it is we were working on then, regardless of the task, the farther we stray.
And it’s not like deadlines and projects will wait for our thoughts to come back. You’re probably trying to write up a sales pitch or outline a project right now, but all you hear is the coffee pot making that gurgling noise, or that constant rattle and hum from the air conditioner above you.
But have no fear! Defeating writer’s block isn’t as complicated as it should be. Sometimes the best fix is the easiest, most juvenile one.
Here are six simple creativity hacks that’ll help you get back to square one.
#1 - Just Start Writing Nonsense
So, the document, spreadsheet, graph--whatever it is you’re working on, is open. There’s maybe a title or a sentence you’ve been adding to and deleting for the last 10 minutes. The stress meter starts to rise and your brain’s locked up. Instead of venting internally, just open up another document and start writing. No sentences. No story arc. No punctuation.
Like this, “Blue elephants took a zeppelin ride over the Sahara and got dropped off at the set of Dumbo 2.”
That sentence makes absolutely no sense, but it cleared my head.
#2 - Doodling
Even with all the gadgets in front of us, there’s nothing like reverting back to the pen and pad when your thoughts are in dire straits. I have to tip my hat to the 30 Circle challenge. It’s so basic. You have 30 blank circles on a sheet of paper. Your mission is to come up with as many different ways to draw something into each circle in under 60 seconds. Make a baseball. A smiley face. Planets. A stick figure trapped in a bubble.
And if you really need to show someone why you have a bunch of paper with wavy lines and stick figures, tell them it improves your abstract thinking. I’m serious. Researchers from Stanford University did a study on “Fluid Movement & Creativity” and said that by writing (doodling) fluid, circular lines like the ones below, you allow for more abstract thinking than people who just drew a straight line.
See! Creativity hacking doesn’t have to be so boring after all!
#3 - Step Away From The Desk
If you’ve been staring at a blank screen for more than 10 minutes, get up from your chair, take a quick walk around the office or step outside for some fresh air. If you want to do a light jog around the office to get the endorphins rolling and the blood pumping, even better. Some of us might prefer to do a few jumping jacks, run in place, or find some other quick 5-minute exercise. That’s OK, too.
#4 - There Are No "Creative Time Zones"
It’s possible that we all have certain times of the day when we hit our creative peak. Some of us are masters in the morning. Others are artists in the afternoon. Some run back to their desk after eating lunch and try to type away like there’s no tomorrow on a full stomach.
Thing is, anytime of the day can be your time to shine. You just need to train yourself to flex those creative muscles at a moment’s notice.
#5 - Tune In to Some Music
There’s something to be said for being in your own little digital world to your favorite band. When you’re stuck in a creative rut, music helps throw your brain off for a precious few minutes. And while you’re humming along to some Phil Collins or Crash Test Dummies, you'll start to float off to an entirely different creative zone in the process.
#6 - Dream a Little Dream
Daydreaming is one of the easiest ways to remove yourself from a frustrating session of writer’s block. Think about what you’re going to eat for dinner that night. Get excited for all the summer movies that are coming out soon. Daydream about how great the drive home’s going to be because it’s so sunny out.
So many things have been invented from daydreaming. Einstein’s theory of relativity was conceived when he just took a break and thought to himself. Novels like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights were created from the Brontë sisters because they slipped into a fantasy world.
At the end of the day, writer’s block isn’t something that can be permanently erased. But at least it’s manageable through basic tricks like these. Moreover, there are dozens of other creativity hacks that I haven’t mentioned. You might have a special one you turn to. And if that’s the case, why not share that knowledge with your team and help others in the office take writer’s block to the woodshed?