In order to complete your manuscript, you’re going to have to write regularly, whether you feel creatively inspired or not. However, your writing sessions will be more enjoyable if you can enter a flow state where words come easily.
Although many people believe creativity is a fickle muse, it’s possible to make tweaks to your writing routine that will enhance your imagination and encourage innovative thought. For example, reducing your stress levels and writing at odd hours can stimulate your creativity and make it easier to write unique prose. Here are 10 tips to help you foster your creativity so you can avoid writer’s block and craft a more innovative book.
Silence Your Internal Editor
Many aspiring authors who enlist my help to write their book feel creatively blocked and struggle to get their story out into the world. In my experience, their lack of progress is often caused by perfectionism. Their internal editor shoots down all their ideas out of fear that they’re not good enough, so nothing makes it onto the page.
You can’t expect the first draft of your book to be brilliant. Holding yourself to that impossible standard will only lead to frustration and writer’s block. Instead of letting your internal editor hijack your writing sessions, try allowing your thoughts to wander freely and write whatever comes to you. Attempting to edit while you write interrupts the flow of ideas, so don’t try to polish your work now—just get those words onto the page! There will be plenty of time to correct and refine your writing later.
Embrace New Ideas and Experiences
Studies have shown that participating in diversifying experiences can light your creative spark. A diversifying event can be anything that pushes you outside of your comfort zone, such as learning something new or exposing yourself to a different culture.
Although taking an international vacation is a great way to broaden your horizons, these experiences don’t have to be expensive. Simply visiting a museum, talking to an interesting friend, or reading books from another genre can pique your curiosity and get your creative juices flowing.
For many of us with busy schedules, stress can become a way of life. Unfortunately, research has found that stress inhibits creativity and causes us to think more rigidly, so finding ways to relax is key.
Introspective activities such as meditating and practicing gratitude help reduce stress and encourage innovative thinking. Exercise can also boost your mood and put you in a more creative frame of mind. But if you don’t have time in your busy schedule to unwind, even keeping a houseplant on your desk or observing nature from your office window can improve your creativity and writing.
Change Your Routine and Mood
If you’re having a hard time being creative, your daily routine may be to blame. Rigidly structuring your days leaves little room for novelty, which is known to stimulate creative thought.
Shaking up your routine a bit can help you see the world through fresh eyes, making it easier to generate innovative ideas for your book. To maximize your creativity, experts suggest that you regularly break your habits in small ways, such as taking the long way home or getting lunch at a new restaurant.
Changing your mood can also have similar effects. Studies have shown that people who are feeling happy perform better on divergent thinking tests. Before you sit down to write, try listening to upbeat music or watching a funny video to get in the right headspace.
Try Writing at Odd Hours
Prolific author Joyce Carol Oates recommends that writers try working on their book at odd hours to spark their creativity. Instead of sitting down to write at your usual scheduled time, shake things up by writing first thing in the morning or late at night.
Studies have shown that feeling a little sleepy or groggy can actually enhance your creativity. When you’re tired, your internal editor is quieter and your thoughts wander more freely, which allows you to make unique connections between ideas. So the next time you think you’re too fatigued to write, try sitting down at the computer anyway and see what comes out!
Embrace Your Inner Child
When we become adults, many of us lose our childlike wonder and excitement. Studies have even shown that adults are 96% less creative than children on average.
One possible explanation for this steep dropoff in creativity is that adults tend to think more rigidly than children. As we grow up and learn more about the world, we begin to rely on our existing knowledge base when solving problems rather than searching for new solutions. We become entrenched in the thought patterns that have worked for us in the past, which makes it harder for us to innovate. Kids are more open-minded and better at divergent thinking compared to adults.
Luckily you can regain some of that lost creativity by embracing your inner child. Researchers found that participants who imagined they were seven-year-olds while completing a creative writing task performed better and displayed more originality. This simple mindset shift can help you approach your writing sessions with childlike whimsy and come up with more creative prose.
Another way to reconnect with your younger self is to play. Children allow their imaginations to run wild while coloring, riding bikes, and having fun with friends. Revisiting your favorite childhood activities can help lower your inhibitions and unleash your creativity.
Start a Journal
Taking on a project as big as drafting a book can be daunting, especially if you’re a first-time author who isn’t used to writing regularly. To get yourself into the habit of writing multiple times per week, it may be helpful to start a journal before you begin working on your book. Keeping a diary is a low-stakes way to dip your toes into the writing world. Since no one will see your diary entries, you won’t feel as much pressure from your internal editor, allowing you to be more creative and experimental.
Journaling can help you explore the ideas you want to cover in your book and develop material you can incorporate into your first draft. You can find prompts online to get your creative juices flowing or simply freewrite about whatever topic comes to mind. Keeping a notebook with you while you’re going about your day can also help you capture insights as they occur to you. After all, you never know when inspiration is going to strike!
Create the Right Environment
Choosing the right setting for your writing sessions is also an important part of maximizing your creativity. Working in a loud environment like a coffee shop can cause you to lose focus and lower your productivity. Studies have also shown that noise can inhibit creativity. You’re more likely to come up with innovative ideas in a quiet place where you can disengage from the outside world and daydream, such as the library.
Lighting is another environmental factor that can affect your creativity. Studies have shown that sitting in a dimly lit room enables people to think in a more exploratory way. Researchers believe that dark rooms create an informal environment that frees us from social constraints, allowing us to be more expressive. If you prefer to work in a well-lit space so you can see your computer keys, try lighting a candle to create a cozy atmosphere instead.
Try a New Creative Hobby
Creative hobbies like drawing, painting, cooking, or crocheting may seem like a waste of energy. If you want to finish your book quickly, you may feel that your time is better spent on writing. However, engaging in other creative pursuits helps you develop complementary skills that will improve the quality of your manuscript.
For example, drawing from observation requires you to take notice of small visual details in your environment. Honing your observational skills by drawing what you see will make you a better author. Training yourself to notice all the sights around you will enable you to craft richer, more immersive settings and make your book come to life.
Become a Mentor or Mentee
Every Fortune 50 company in the United States has a mentorship program, and for good reason. Mentorship has been shown to improve the creativity of both mentors and mentees, so you can benefit from this type of relationship at any stage of your career.
Mentors bring a wealth of skills, knowledge, and experience to the table that mentees can learn from. Many famous authors had mentors who helped propel them to success, including William Faulkner, Edith Wharton, and T.S. Eliot. However, your mentor doesn’t necessarily need to be an author themselves. Anyone who’s advanced to the top of their field will have useful insights and wisdom to share.
If you’re further along in your career, becoming a mentor can reignite your creative spark and renew your passion for your industry. Taking an enthusiastic young professional under your wing will also allow you to hone your relational skills. Your conversations may even serve as inspiration for your writing.
Whether you want to find a mentor or become one, writing groups are a great place to network with other authors. You can search for local writing groups and workshops on Meetup.com and Evenbrite.com. Facebook also has many online communities for authors where you can give and receive writing support.
Developing Creativity Takes Practice
Many people believe that visionaries are born, not made. But just like any other skill, creativity can be fostered and developed over time. By making tweaks to your writing routine and embracing novelty in your daily life, you can cultivate a more creative mindset and set yourself up for authorial success.
If you need support to develop your creativity and improve your writing, consider signing up for one of our book coaching programs. We’ll guide you through the entire creative process step-by-step, from outlining your book to polishing it for publication. Get in touch to finally fulfill your dream of becoming an author.