7 Ways to Overcome Writer's Block and Boost your Creativity

 reading time: 12 min

CREATIVITY [noun]  The use of skill and imagination to produce something new or to produce art. The ability to create.

Hello fellow creator,

if you are a writer, I am sure you have experienced some form of the infamous writer's block along the way. Have you ever sat down to write but felt completely drained and uninspired? Perhaps not just once, but it happens quite often? Do you feel that no matter how many times you sit down to write, the words don't seem to want to come to you? Do you feel disconnected from your own creativity?

I know exactly how you feel.

And don't worry, there is a way to get out of a writing slump, or even a "chronic" – or rather, more deeply rooted – creative block. In fact, there are several ways to do that, and today I want to share with you 7 easy but essential ways I use to overcome writer's block and activate my creative energy. Some of these tips may sound ridiculously basic, but if you don't actually do them, they won't work!

1. Understand Creativity & Flow State

At its core, creativity can be broken down to the ability to create. Contrary to popular belief I don't believe that creativity is something that can be "lost" or "found", respectively. I don't believe in the inspiration myth, or the myth of the muse that comes along to kiss you if you're lucky. And I don't think that these concepts are particularly helpful.

Instead, I believe that
creativity is what distinguishes human beings from other life forms. It goes much deeper than ingenuity, novelty or a specific "creative" talent. When I speak of creativity – or creative force –, I refer to the same inherent capability that enables us to have a vision (visualize) and then realize it (manifest). Creativity is the choice to create, the choice to use our innate capacity to create. Hence, creativity is always part of ourselves, not outside of ourselves, so there's no need to chase it. Instead, look inward.

When we are creating, we are doing it from our centre, from our innermost core as creative beings. I feel like people usually think they are struggling with the "creative" part; but I feel like they are probably actually struggling with the "being" part!

Think about it. Can you really be with your writing in the here and now? Or are you already thinking (and fretting) about the next chapter, the next several chapters, or the entire book instead of focussing on just this one sentence, just this one word you are currently writing?

According to this article, "flow state is the experience of being so absorbed by an engaging, enjoyable task that your attention is comp[l]etely held by it. You generally lose sense of time, self-consciousness, and anything that doesn’t have to do with the task at hand."

In other words: flow state requires single-mindedness and undivided attention; the ability to focus on one thing without any distractions.

So before we try to get rid of writer's block by changing up the genre or doing random writing prompts (which are all wonderful techniques to stretch your writing muscle), I think it's worth to remind ourselves that what we are actually trying to achieve is tap into our inner centre of calm and groundedness, with our focus solely on the present moment.

Creativity is a choice, not a feeling.

2. Meditate to Create

In my opinion, meditation is the best way to get to this place of calm focus, of connectedness, stillness, and now-ness that will will enable "flow state". Through meditation you are re-connecting with yourself on a deep level, and with that, your inherent creativity.

I recommend meditating right before sitting down to write to get into that calm, centred, relaxed and focused state of mind that we talked about. I find that even a few minutes make such a difference!

If you don't feel comfortable with sitting in silence, there are a lot of great guided meditations for creativity out there, such as Kate Emmons' Quick & powerful 5 min pre-writing meditation for authors, or this Relaxing Guided Meditation for Creativity and Artmaking (6 minutes) by Youhjung Son, or
this Boost Your Creativity + Inspiration | 7-minute Guided Meditation by Kristen Martin, or Caro Arevalo's Guided Meditation for Creativity, Positivity and Relaxation (8 minutes; replacing words like "painting" with "writing") as well as her meditation before painting (15 minutes).

3. Face Your Fears (& replace them)

But what if you don't even get to that place of inner peace because your thoughts and self-doubts are constantly throwing you off?

In many cases, the phenomenon of "writer's block" is linked to an underlying fear. It is not the writing that is blocked, but rather our belief in ourselves! We are paralyzed by fear. The fear of not being good enough; not writing good enough words; not writing fast enough, or consistent enough; never going to finish the book; never getting published; never going to be successful anyway ... Does this sound familiar?

We attach sky-high expectations to our writing process, and then we fear falling short of them.
Do you ever catch yourself saying "My writing isn't good (enough)" or "I'm not creative (enough)" or "I'm never going to finish this book"?

Realize that these are just thoughts. Negative, rather destructive thoughts and limiting beliefs. And you know how I feel about those. 😉 Don't let this fear (False Evidence Appearing Real) intimidate you – and keep you from pursuing your dream (aka writing and having a good time doing so)!

If you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk (such as "I don't have any great ideas" or "What if the story doesn't turn out any good?" or "What if I get stuck again?"), simply recognize them as thoughts. Fears. They are not the truth. And they certainly won't bring you any closer to your writing goal.

Instead, replace these fears and doubts with positive, constructive, empowering affirmations that will remind you of your ability to write this story and of your power as a creative being (such as "I am a wonderful creative writer" or "I trust in my ability to write this story" or "I trust and enjoy my unique writing process"). You can either write down your own affirmations and read them out loud to yourself, or you can use someone else's list of inspiring affirmations.

I personally love the affirmations Kate shares in her video on Writer's Empowerment | 15 Min Meditation & Affirmations for Manifesting a Great Writing Day, see below. For a shorter version, check out her Tap Into The Writing Mood | 5 Mins of Powerful Affirmations to Activate Your Creativity.

4. Boost Your Happiness

One of the most effective ways to conquer self-doubt – if you are dealing with negative, fearful thoughts around your writing – is to engage in activities that boost your self-worth, your self-confidence, and your faith in your ability to write a story! In other words: Do more of what makes you happy.

Perhaps, like me, you started writing as a kid. Think back to that time, when ever your personal starting point was. Remember how you would write for fun? Simply for the sheer joy of it, and nothing else? You didn't think about whether or not your writing would be "successful" or ever get published. You didn't compare yourself to other writers, and you didn't question whether it would be worth your time. You did it because you wanted to do it.

Somewhere along the way you lost that joy. So ask yourself: How can you get back to this place of curiosity and enjoyment?

(I'll give you a hint: You were much more present as a child, and you didn't worry about the future and the possible outcome of your creations!)

Take your inner child by the hand, so to speak, and let it take the lead.
What would really bring you joy right now? Is it writing, maybe even something totally unrelated to your WIP? Or is it painting? Or running barefoot through the grass? Or doing a somersault in the snow? Whatever it is – do it!

Re-learn how to write for the joy of it! Try to be as curious, playful and most of all non-judgemental about it as you can.

If that seems too difficult at the moment, simply ask yourself how you can
make the writing process more attractive and enjoyable to you. What can you do to make writing fun and adventurous again?

5. The Path of Least Resistance

I don't know about you, but I feel like as humans we are pretty lazy. As such, we pick the low-hanging fruit and take the path of least resistance where ever we can. So make writing the path of least resistance!

Similar to what I said about forming a new habit in my blogpost on How To Marie Kondo Your Life (and not just your stuff), make your writing habit as accessible as possible.
In the words of Adriene: The hardest part is showing up! Just like if you wanted to do more yoga, you would roll out your yoga mat the night before and maybe put on your workout clothes first thing in the morning, you can apply this principle to writing.

For example, if you write on paper, put your writing notepad visibly on your desk, along with
your notes, your outline, your scene cards, or what ever you use for your writing. If you write digitally, I suggest to have your computer autoboot the text document with your WIP. This way, instead of first checking your mails and your messengers and all of your social media accounts and perhaps the news before actually opening your story (if you ever get that far), your story will be the first thing you look at when you turn on your computer.

You can also disconnect your WiFi the night before, that way you won't get far even if you accidentally click on your browser out of habit. (Which is one of the reasons why I personally wouldn't recommend writing in a web-based document, even though I can also see its advantages.)

Or you could even set up a separate user account for writing that only gives you access to your word processor, and perhaps your writing playlist and inspirational pictures for your characters and settings. Use your desktop background for your story moodboard or writerly images, if you like.

Another great way to pave the way for your writing session is to plan out the scene you're going to write next either the night before or at the end of each writing session. That way, you'll have a rough roadmap the
next time you sit down to write.

What ever it is you "need" for your writing (n
otes, notepad, pen, text document on autoboot, cup of tea, noise-cancelling headphones, 25 minute timer, snacks...), have it already set up! Make getting to your writing as easy and effortless as possible.

However, personal experience has taught me that this will only work once you have identified your negative self-talk and are approaching your writing from a place of calm and intentional focus – 'cause otherwise, you'll just ignore the autobooted WIP, and go straight to your usual suspects of entertaining distractions ...

6. Turn It Into A Sacred Ritual

For most writers, their desk is their workplace. If your desk is cluttered, you are adding unnecessary distraction to your workflow. Let the items taking up space on your desk be beneficial to your creative work.

In order to get into a writing mood, you can utilize triggers that signal your brain that it's writing time, aka time to get into creative mode. Triggers will be different for everyone.
In my case that's a cup of my favourite tea (chai or Earl Grey with creamy oat milk), my Bach flower remedy for focus and creativity (No. 9, clematis), having a specific candle for each writing project that I work on (for my current young adult fantasy project that's a lovely floral blend with palo santo & copal), crystals (mainly clear quartz, selenite, celestine, and tiger's eye), and pomodoro-style writing sprints (like this 2 hour immersive writing session for deep focus by Abbie Emmons).

To consciously induce your writing process, use those triggers to create your own simple sacred ritual. (Keep it simple as you don't want your ritual to keep you from writing, see point above.)

For example, my writing ritual looks something like this at the moment: Mindful movement such as yoga, stretching or intuitive dancing. Meditate. Repeat positive affirmations to remind myself of my creativity and creative ability (I sometimes like to hold a crystal in my hand while doing that). Make myself a milk tea. Light my writing candle. Put on my blue light glasses. Open my Word document(s). Start the writing sprint soundtrack. Write.

Sometimes I also like to do a full-on cacao ceremony before my writing session, or to brainstorm, to get into a playful and grounded mindset.

7. End On A High Note

Now all of these tips have hopefully helped you to get down to the root of your "writer's block" and eventually overcome it. When you do get into a writing flow, you can prevent a future writing block by simply stopping before you run out of ideas. Because if you keep going until you have no clue what to write next, you are are literally empty and burning yourself out creatively – and the next time you sit down to write, you probably still won't know what to write next, making you feel stuck and uninspired. It's a doom loop.

Instead, stop when you could still write some more. That way, the next time you return to your story, you will already have some ideas to go off of. Plus, if you stop on a high note – after having written a scene or a paragraph or a sentence that was very easy to write or that you are really happy –, you will leave your writing session feeling excited and accomplished, rather than exhausted and empty, so the next time you return to your story, you will remember that feeling of excitement and inspiration, and it will be that much easier to get back into it.

If you are afraid of losing your flow of ideas when you stop with your mind still buzzing with creativity, you can just jot them down, or even prepare an in-depth scene outline that you can use as a springboard in your next writing session.

So, to end this blogpost on a high note as well, remember that you are, inherently, a creative being. Trust that you are capable of creating. You are capable of writing your story.

For even more input on how to beat a creative block and get inspired instantly, check out my other two blogposts on this topic, where I touch on things like doing writing sprints, finding your creative zone, embracing boredom, setting up a creative space, the importance of structure and constraint, and more!
How To Beat a Creative Block & Get Inspired