Where’d my genius go?

Writers, you’re halfway through national novel writing month – AKA national writers month for all the screenwriters – and you may be wondering, “Where’d my genius go?” You had that spark at the beginning of the month. Words were pouring out of you like hot lava. Now your brain feels like sludge. That 25,000 word count seems insurmountable, much less 50,000 words. Pushing through your act two feels like Shackleton’s expedition. If you could imbue your on-screen struggles with as much angst as you’re feeling off-the-page, you’d be golden. You need your genius but she’s nowhere to be found.

writing at a table

Writer concentrating. Photo courtesy of Dylan Fogarty-MacDonald.

Your genius is still hanging around. You’ve probably been pushing yourself so hard, she got pushed aside. You just need to invite her back into your work. Now is a good time to reconnect with your genius so you can blast through the rest of your novel, script, or play.

Creativity boosters

Juno Beach Pier Lady Walking Dog

Woman walking with dog past Juno Beach Pier. Photo courtesy of Captain Kimo.

Take a walk. Creativity lagging? You might have chair-butt-itis, too much time spent sitting hunched over your computer. Exercising your body can help energize your writing.

Almost every dimension of cognition improves after 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, and creativity is no exception. The type of exercise doesn’t matter, and the boost lasts for at least two hours afterward. However, there’s a catch: this is the case only for the physically fit. For those who rarely exercise, the fatigue from aerobic activity counteracts the short-term benefits. (“Forget Brainstorming,” Newsweek, July 12, 2009.)


Man taking a nap in the sun. Photo courtesy of vividBreeze.

Take a nap. Naps may allow your right brain to perform housekeeping duties like consolidating story and organizing research. Often people say they figured out their story dilemma after sleeping on it for a short period.

The latest research… may help explain the mental spark that sometimes occurs during a nap. Researchers monitoring the brain activity of 15 at-rest individuals found that the right side of their brain – the hemisphere most associated with creativity – chattered busily to itself as well as to the left hemisphere, which remained relatively quiet. (“‘Power naps’ may boost right brain activity,” Health.com, Oct. 17, 2012.

Laughing girl

Girl laughing. Photo courtesy of Doug Wheller.

Keep your glass half-full. A positive mood can make you more innovative.

“Generally, positive mood has been found to enhance creative problem solving and flexible yet careful thinking,” says Ruby Nadler, a graduate student at the University of Western Ontario. (“A positive mood allows your brain to think more creatively,” Association for Psychological Science, December 15, 2010.)

Listen to upbeat music. Plug into a comedy website for a laugh or find an uplifting video on youtube. Or touch base with that friend who always puts a smile on your face. You just might find your genius is smiling with you.

Still can’t find your genius? Watch this TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert author of “Eat, Pray, Love.”

Writers, olé!