Technology has been a boon for writers. We can research any topic we want without having to travel to libraries, publish our books without a publishing deal, and write from anywhere we like. But technology has a downside. It can affect our sleep and concentration, play havoc with our creative thinking abilities, and continually woo us into time-wasting, titillating online content designed to drain our wallets, but leaving our minds and hearts sorely malnourished in the process.
In addition, many of us live in cities and towns, where we’re constantly surrounded by noise and other real-world distractions that make it challenging to work, to say the least. So how to deal with all this? It’s great when inspiration strikes and we find ourselves scrambling to keep up, regardless of what’s happening around us, but what about the rest of the time? Are there any dependable ways of reawakening our creativity, even in the midst of all the constant distractions?
I decided to ask around. One of the websites I work for, assignmentmasters, is full of prolific writers who manage a steady output of quality content. Of course, a lot of this has to do with the natural proclivities of the ‘writing type’ who are drawn to this kind of work, as well as the diligence of regular practice — even when one would rather be doing something else — but there was one theme that I did notice continually cropping up: getting away from familiar surroundings and into the beauty of nature.
Taking this to heart, I made a short list of the different things I might do when feeling uninspired myself. Soon after starting it, I realized it would be a shame to keep this info to myself, and this post was born! These 4 simple methods are what work best for me, but there are of course endless ways to allow nature — the original creative force — to reawaken your own creativity. Consider this a setting-off point.
1) Go Camping
Compared to something like a resort vacation, camping may not exactly fulfill your idea of a ‘relaxing’ trip, but it is one way to help you get out of your comfort zone. Think about it — how is anything truly novel going to come to mind when you find yourself in the same environment, surrounded by the same things, and the same routine, day after day? By trying something you wouldn’t normally consider and entering ‘unknown’ territory, you’re in essence forcing your brain ‘awake’.
In addition, you’re immersing yourself in beautiful surroundings. Cities may be exciting, but they can make you feel overwhelmed at times, and jaded at others. Switching to an environment that’s the complete opposite of what you’re used to may just serve to recharge your mental batteries.
2) Opt For a Walk in the Country
Even if camping isn’t your thing, you can still make the most of nature without taking an extended stay there. Simply decide on a time and take a long walk in the country, leaving your phone behind and taking a notebook with you instead. Do your best during this walk to empty your mind of its normal worries and thoughts and just enjoy the sights and sounds instead.
Find a comfortable place to sit from time to time, and scribble down whatever comes into your mind. Look around for interesting things. It’s surprising what you can find if you really look. What does the view make you think of? Or the wildlife you see?
It doesn’t really matter if you come up with a lot of amazing material or not. The important thing is that you clear out the clutter from your mind and allow space for inspiration to gather again. And even material that may seem unpromising at the time can very well provide ideas later on if you go back to it. So nothing you scribble down while on your walk is a wasted effort.
3) Take Your Exercise/Yoga Routine Outdoors
There’s no need to go into the well-documented, numerable benefits of yoga for both your mind and body in this article once again, and while regular practice is good for you no matter where you do it, the best environment, in my opinion, is with nature all around you.
So take your yoga mat out into the country and find a quiet place to practice those poses! Even a large park, away from the noise of traffic, will be beneficial, if only for the fresh air and scenery on their own. It really does help you feel calm and inspired.
As with point number 2, make a conscious effort to empty your mind of distracting thoughts. And don’t think about your writing, either! You won’t derive maximum benefit from your yoga practice if you do. Instead, do your best to give all your attention to the present, putting all of your mental energy into each pose.
What you’ll find after performing this ritual a few times is that it’s almost a type of ‘creative gestation’, depositing a number of good ideas — and bringing others together — during what seemed like, at the time, a fairly routine yoga session. There’s something about the combination of the outdoor environment and the rhythmic breathing/movement that really does make room for the muse.
4) Leave On A Holiday… But With a Point!
As with all the other points on this list, holidays are meant to recharge through relaxation, by both giving us a break from the worries and stresses of 9 to 5 life, and providing a break from our normal routine. And this they do quite well.
But if you’re looking to spur your creativity, you probably won’t manage it by spending 7 days on the beach and drowning yourself in daiquiris, or going on an extended shopping-spree in a city that you have to keep reminding yourself isn’t your own.
The answer? Take a holiday that has a point. Go on a ‘working’ holiday, pursuing an idea or lead you find exciting but haven’t been able to implement in your actual job, or volunteer your time with a charitable organization.
Believe it or not, this actually works very well, because at the end of your holiday there’s a good chance you’ll actually feel energized by having done something useful, instead of (as is so often the case) feeling exhausted and ready for a ‘vacation from the vacation’.
The sense of positivity gained from this trip will carry through into your writing, and, in a best-case scenario, it may also provide direct inspiration due to the people you met, or different situations you found yourself in during your journey.
Whatever option you choose, as well as having some fun, at the very least, you will return to your usual environment with a feeling of being renewed, possessing a refreshed mindset and a tickled muse.
So, what are you waiting for? Get on your way!