Aside from skill and talent, writing usually also requires a good dose of creativity, which unfortunately can’t always be summoned on demand. Some of the most creative people in history had unconventional methods for getting their creative juices flowing. For instance, Charles Dickens would pay frequent visits the morgue, Beethoven liked to take long baths and Thomas Edison would often deprive himself of sleep.
But if these tactics sound just a little extreme, here are a few other tips and tricks to help you get over your creative slump and back into the zone.
1. Move to a noisier area
Noise isn’t usually a good thing when you’re trying focus, but if you’re facing a creative block, ambient noise can actually help you move beyond your normal thought patterns and come up with new ideas. According to research from the University of Illinois, the ideal level of background noise for creativity is about 70 decibels, which is just about the level of noise you’d get in a bustling coffee shop.
2. Don’t always tidy up
There’s a time and place for everything, including mess, and research from the University of Minnesota shows that while tidy environments are excellent for promoting positive behaviour like generosity and healthy eating, a messy room is best when you want to come up with interesting and creative ideas.
3. Allow yourself to get bored
If you feel boredom creeping on when it’s time to sit down and write, don’t try to fight it. Researchers from the University of Lancashire have discovered that boring tasks, and particularly passive boring tasks, can boost your creativity by allowing your mind wander, which can help you come up with more original ideas.
4. Get your heart rate up
Aside from being great for your physical health, getting your heart rate up can also help you dust off the cobwebs and think more creatively. One study from Leiden University in the Netherlands demonstrated that people who exercise at least four times a week outperform those with a more sedentary lifestyle when it comes to thinking creatively, and recently Stanford researchers found that walking can increase a person’s creative output by 60 percent.
5. Give in to entitlement
Although entitlement isn’t an attractive quality, the truth is that we’re all a little entitled by nature, whether we’re ready to admit it or not, and researchers from Cornell and Vanderbilt University have found that this can work to our advantage when we need to be creative. According to their study, simply writing out a list of reasons why you deserve more than others and should demand the best in life can help you think more innovatively.
6. Change something in your daily routine
Changing up little things in your daily routine, like taking a different route to work or writing with your left hand instead of your right, can put you in a more creative frame of mind. Researchers from Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands believe that unusual or unexpected experiences can boost creativity, and in one of their experiments, simply preparing a sandwich in reverse order helped participants to brainstorm more productively.
7. Surround yourself with blue
Research from the University of British Columbia has shown that the colour blue encourages us to think outside the box and be more creative, so find a way to surround yourself with the colour blue when you’re trying to think creatively, whether that means going outside and staring up at the sky for a few minutes, changing your desktop background or painting a wall in your study.