Photo by Noel Hendrickson

Three ways to break out of your creative rut

Writers, you’re hip deep into a project and suddenly, you’re wondering, “Where’d my genius go?” You had that spark at the beginning of the project. Words were pouring out of you like hot lava. Now your brain feels like sludge. 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.

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

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.)

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,”, Oct. 17, 2012.

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 may 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.”