3 Ways to Train Your Brain to be More Creative

Don’t Give Up: 5 Motivating Tips for New Freelance Writers
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Whether you’re just getting started freelancing or are employed full-time, writing “on demand” can be terribly difficult.

Does this sound like you sometimes?

•  Waiting for inspiration that just isn’t coming

•  Finally hitting your creative stride… only to realize you have a meeting in 15 minutes

•  Barely making deadlines because you’re struggling to get into the creative zone when you most need to

You’re not alone. Being able to turn the creativity spigot on and off is something all of us creative professionals struggle with at some point in our careers. It’s essential to find a way to harness creative energy and tap into it when you need it.

I’m naturally more creative at night and I don’t know if that will ever totally change. However, a few big changes to my workflow have helped me tap into the creativity I need during normal business hours. Not only does this work better for my clients, it enables me to have a personal life instead of being holed up in my office working odd hours. Win-win.

Here’s how you can start channeling your creativity when you need it most.

1. Develop a (good) habit

Get your brain and body in the habit of sitting down at a specific time to work and be creative. Working in the middle of the night wasn’t ideal for my life or for my clients, so I trained myself to develop a creative and focused mindset during certain times of the day.

I started by blocking off two two-hour windows a day for creative writing. During each creative session, I silenced my phone, closed my email and social media channels, and focused solely on the task at hand. After about a week of sticking to this schedule, I realized that my brain started to “tune in” during these times. I no longer needed a warm-up (see tip #2) to get into the flow and I found that I was much more focused.

Try blocking off one or two “creative sessions” during your day and keep at it for at least a week to develop a good, creative habit.

2. Train your brain

Sometimes your schedule just won’t allow you to stick to your dedicated creative time. So, take a cue from Pavlov and his dogs: develop a creative ritual to get ready to write.

One option is to start with a “fun file” before diving into more serious, professional work. A fun file is whatever you want it to be — an ongoing story or a writing prompt response — but most importantly, it is a no pressure zone to get yourself into the creative mindset. Work on this fun file for five to 15 minutes before switching to your “real” work.

Eventually your brain will start to associate the fun file with being a precursor to real work and you’ll be able to seamlessly glide into serious work straight from your fun file at any time of the day.

3. Take the power away from “The Muse”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not too keen on having to wait around for other people — inspirational muses included.

A lot of creative folks get stuck on the idea that they need to feel inspired in order to produce creative work. I get it. When those ideas and words are just flowing out of your brain it can certainly feel like divine inspiration. But in reality, you’re discrediting yourself as a creative professional when you give too much power to the muse.

Remind yourself that you are the one producing the great creative work. You are the one who worked hard to get here. The more consistently you work on creative projects, the less you’ll even think about that finicky muse. Get into the habit of creating on your own terms and you’ll never sit around waiting for inspiration again.

How do you find inspiration and creativity when you need it most?

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Alex Zamorski is the founder of CalamusWorks.com where she helps writers reach their writing goals by providing editing, book marketing, and publishing guidance. See what she’s up to on Twit... .

Calamus Works | @AlexZamorski

Alex Zamorski
Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing: Review

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Comments

  1. Thanks so much for writing this! I’ve struggled for years to get my creativity flowing during “normal” business hours instead of the wee hours of the morning. I’m going to implement all of these tips, and maybe that will help me write better during the times that I need to be doing my writing instead of the time when I need to be sleeping 🙂

    • Jeff, thanks so much for your comment! I hope these tips help. By the way, I love the “Word of the Week” posted on your blog today. Too funny!

    • I’ve got the same problem, I usually find myself writing late at night — as you say, not good for your schedule and not good for your clients! Been there, done that, and co-incidentally recently resolved to try set aside an hour or so each afternoon instead.

  2. Thank you for your post, you are amazing.
    I have tried to acquire good habits, and I am happy to say that I am able to write.
    Sometimes is not as good, but the process gets me thinking and writing.
    Also, I think that you will agree with this, the more you read and write the better your writing will be.
    I think that to develop your own voice you have to write a lot.

    • Hi Ernesto, thanks for your comment! I absolutely agree with you that the more you read and write, the better your writing becomes. Some days are better than others, of course, but it’s all about creating a writing habit and practicing your craft. Keep on writing!

  3. Thank you for this! I definitely have a tendency to wait for the creative bug to bite me, rather than going after it myself. It’s something I know I need to work on, and I think these tips will help.

  4. Hey Alex, I enjoyed your post, Particularly #3, taking power away from the ‘muse’. There is a common (false) romantic notion that good writers receive some kind of divine inspiration that propels them through hours and days of brilliant writing. The reality, however, is that most times you have to push–just grit and grind your teeth to get through difficult paragraphs.

    Just to add to the discussion, I sometimes listen to interviews from authors or intellectuals (on any interesting topic, not necessarily something relevant to my writing) and this habit tends to get my linguistic juices flowing.

    • Hi Danny, thanks so much for your comment and additional tip. I can totally see how listening to author interviews or other creative intellectuals would help kick-start the “writing” brain. I’ll have to give that a try next time I’m stuck!

  5. Thank you for this wonderful writing tips I am going to do them.

  6. Thank you for this inspiring write-up.
    It came when I needed such advice so much.
    Sometimes I refuse to write as I feel I’m not in the right mood.
    I have to write more often after reading this piece, muse or no muse.
    You may find my works on http://storieswithoutborder.wordpress.com/
    Keep inspiring writers!

Trackbacks

  1. […] 3 Ways to Train Your Brain to be More Creative, from The Write Life: Having a moment of inspiration is great, but you can’t rely on them. […]

  2. […] 3 Ways to Train Your Brain to be More Creative | The Write Life […]

  3. […] it at that, I thought I’d share this article from the wonderful people at The Write Life, 3 Ways to Train Your Brain to be More Creative, which is designed to help freelancers in particular, but from which we could all […]

  4. […] Of course it may not always be wonderful writing but to have written at all will increase your craft and ability, while increasing the habit, and thus likelihood of you writing regularly. “The more consistently you work on creative projects, the less you’ll even think about that finicky muse,” says Alex Zamorski, author and founder of Calamus Works. “Get into the habit of creating on your own terms and you’ll never sit around waiting for inspiration again.” […]

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