In a writing-heavy job, it’s common to encounter serious writer’s block that stops you in your tracks.
PR pros know the feeling: You’ve got a byline due in three hours, and there you sit as your cursor blinks incessantly on a blank page.
Never fear. There are proven ways to help you and your colleagues combat writer’s block and live to tell about it. Here are five tricks for fighting stagnation and fostering creativity in your work.
1. Remember Goldilocks? Choose a not-too-quiet, not-too-loud environment.
According to a recent study, there’s a reason why creative folks often huddle over their laptops in coffee shops. The caffeine doesn’t hurt, but what actually seems to spark creativity is the noise level. A bustling coffee shop has about 70 decibels of noise, compared to a quiet office space, which tends to have only around 50. If you’re aiming to get your colleagues’ creative juices flowing, one of the best things you can do is leave the office and go to a moderately loud environment. That said, don’t book those concert tickets for you and your colleagues just yet. Environments that are too loud tend to stifle creativity.
2. Impose new restrictions on yourself and your team.
Dr. Seuss famously wrote “Green Eggs and Ham” after being dared to write an entire book in fewer than 50 words. If you are struggling to write a press release, try limiting yourself to fewer words than you’d planned. A new challenge forces your brain to think differently. The very process of attempting to write a press release in 50 words rather than 500 could help you distill your thoughts to identify only the most newsworthy and exciting content.
3. Put on your walking shoes.
Years ago, I was a teacher, and this was one of the best tools I had at my disposal. When students encountered crippling writer’s block, we’d go for a quick walk around the campus. There’s mounting evidence to suggest that movement helps facilitate thinking, not to mention that putting yourself in a different environment for a short period of time helps you return to your work with laser focus. The effects of walking on cognition are so profound that some companies offer stand-up desks with treadmills, but you needn’t go that far. A walk around the block will probably suffice in helping you generate creative ideas.
4. Ask someone to pick your brain.
Sometimes, all someone needs to get out of a rut is have someone else ask questions about his or her ideas to improve or refine them. Pose your initial thought to a coworker or friend, and ask him/her to probe you about it. Say you’re working on a pitch, and you’re stumped. A coworker might prompt you to think beyond your initial ideas with question stems such as, “What would happen if…?” “What is newsworthy about…?” or “What themes emerge when…?” Though we could ask ourselves these questions, sometimes we’re too stuck—or too stubborn—to do so. Engaging with another person around the topic can help spawn some serious creativity.
5. Don’t wait for inspiration. Just write.
Perfectionism is the bane of production. Being discerning about what you write occasionally means you write nothing at all. With students whose own perfectionism prevented them from producing, I asked them to write for a full 10 minutes, non-stop, with a timer running. Not surprisingly, students initially loathed this exercise because it felt stressful. However, once you move beyond feeling self-conscious about how much you can produce, this exercise can be liberating. Freed from a critical inner dialogue, you are forced to write. After you write non-stop for 10 minutes, re-read what you wrote and highlight the best few ideas, sentences, or phrases. Now you have several creative ideas on which to elaborate.
via Molly Strong at Communiquepr