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Finding inspiration when the words won’t come

paper crumple upI don’t believe in writer’s block. I’ve always thought it was an excuse to avoid the hard work of writing. Even the best writers recognise phases when publishing comes at a cost – when every word takes longer to get on the page. If you’re in that spot where the words aren’t flowing, read on for help.

A witty article by Dan Hatch about a potential Australian trade deal in post-Brexit England and Doug Kessler’s romp about Content Marketing World were stark reminders my writing muscle was in a state of atrophy. Reporting on trade deals or marketing conferences sounds like dry stuff but the writing of these two guys is so inspired I devoured every word. It’s given me the kick up the backside I need to get busy developing my own inspiration for writing. Here are some of my best tricks.

Push away from the desk

I’ve had a long history of insomnia, a seemingly helpful condition for entrepreneurs and business owners. But I’ve learnt starting work at 4:00 am isn’t the best way to stimulate creativity. According to research from Stanford University’s Computer Science Department, people working in a constant state of crunch time are actually less productive. If it’s not good for productivity, working long hours is even worse for creative pursuits.

I’m making a habit of giving myself time to rejuvenate. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I use that time reading for pleasure or catching up on a TV program I enjoy. In most cases, I fall back to sleep, which never happens when I’m sitting at my desk with a cup of coffee.

Take up a mindless activity

Putting your mind on autopilot is a great way to invite inspiration into your life. Find something that doesn’t require a lot of brainpower – walking the dog, swimming laps or digging in the garden all qualify. I find it takes about 20 minutes before the ideas start firing, so it’s essential to give your mind time to relax before you experience the benefits of letting your brain rest.

Do something that requires total concentration

If mindless activity doesn’t appeal, giving something your undivided attention is also an effective way to stimulate creativity. Horseriding, sailing and running are all things that require me to completely empty my mind of anything but the activity at hand. When I’m done, I’m usually physically exhausted but have also reset my creative energies.

Switch mediums

Reading is a great way to inspire your own writing, but think of other ways to find stories. Watch TV, go to the cinema, see a live performance or listen to music. Indulge in long-form content, not just a single episode of a TV program or one song. Some of the best storytellers are songwriters, so find an album and listen to the whole thing. I’m no Bruce Springsteen or Lyle Lovett but experiencing their storytelling capabilities definitely inspires me.

Not many of us have the luxury of making a writer’s block claim. If you’re reading this blog, writing is probably an essential part of your livelihood. Finding ways to get inspired to write better, write more often and write more creatively isn’t that hard if you’re willing to persist. Instead of focusing on how to get words on paper, find ways to keep inspired when you’re not sitting at your desk. Once you’ve stimulated your creativity, writing inspiration isn’t far behind.

For more advice on how to be effective in your marketing and communications, listen to the weekly Brand Newsroom podcast. You can iTunes.