This week I'm not housesitting. Here at home in South Devon I'm writing, creating, running creative writing workshops and musing on one of my favourite topics: creativity. In particular I'm thinking about inspiration for writers. Looking for some suggestions to free up your writing/creativity? Read on.
1. Create space and time for your creativity! Make a date with yourself or make a creativity date with a friend. Join a local writers group. If you're short on time and feeling weighed down by commitments, what changes can be made to allow for more creative time? Honour the fact your creativity needs to be allowed space to flourish.
2. Vary the space in which you write. Write in different rooms in your house. Write outdoors. Write in the elements. Write in cafes. Go out in cities and towns, eavesdrop on conversations and write about what you hear. Turn writing into a fresh adventure. If you're feeling stuck, minimise focus on that stuckness. Give yourself a shake, change physical environment and see if anything shifts. If it doesn't, maybe it's just not ready to right now. That's okay.
3. If your current project isn't flowing, don't force it. Allow yourself to be silly. Send the inner critic to Coventry, write stream of consciousness nonsense and let your words flow freely. Write with your non-dominant hand, write in different coloured pens on enormous pieces of card, write with your feet. Allow yourself to play.
4. Be creative in other ways. We all have an innate capacity for creativity. Play some music, paint, string some jewellery, cook a meal, construct an elaborate costume, dance around outdoors. It doesn't really matter what you're doing, but don't take it too seriously. All creativity is interlinked. Get out of your head for a bit and just see what happens.
5. Meditate. "Meditation" is a big umbrella term. If you have a dedicated meditation practise? Great. Utilise this. If you don't? Clear away distractions, put on some relaxing music and just be for a while, recognising how your body feels in a given moment. Or have a good shake-down, take a walk in nature and follow one simple proviso: pay attention. Pay attention to your surroundings, to your senses and your breathing and focus. Keeping as present as possible is good for you and great for all things creative.
6. Listen! Listen deeply to the things you're told, listen just as deeply to things not meant for your ears. Pay attention to the nuances of language. Become receptive.
7. Read! Read everything. Read things you like and those you don't. Read whenever you have time. ("I don't have time to read" is a common complaint. I completely accept many people are time-poor. However, if you have spare time to surf the internet for fun, you have time to read. Make that reading time and recognise it's important.) Fill up on other people's writing until your own words pour out. (Or even trickle. Trickling's okay.)
8. If the words aren't coming, try not to panic. They haven't gone away forever. They'll be back. Trust.
9. Seek out new experiences! These could be simple: cooking new meals, trying different foods, walking different routes. These could be more involved: bungee-jumps or sky-dives, exploring new countries, dating unexpected people.* (*I don't recommend this one if you're already in a monogamous relationship...) If something's outside your comfort zone, but you feel you'll benefit from it, maybe it's worth a go. New experiences keep everything flowing. For writers, this is gold dust.
10. Breathe. You're alive. Wherever your writing's flowing or not, here you are: alive in this strange, amazing world. Breathe deeply into your body and see how that feels. Just focus on that breath. Maybe there's a story in it. Maybe the simple fact of your existence is enough right this second. The words will come.