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Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday Speak Out!: 3 Tips for Beating the Creativity Blues

by Erin Liles

There might not be a cure for the summertime blues, but there are a few things that might help with the creativity blues. You know, those dry spells you encounter when you can’t think of anything to write, or when everything you write seems awful? Yes, we’ve all been there!
But creativity is the drive behind art, so when it dries out, we’ve got to tend it, help it bloom again.

Play around. Dive into absurdity and write. Take chances. You will succeed if you are fearless of failure.”
― Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

1. Go with the flow. Take ten to fifteen minutes a day to sit down and write. Set a timer for the allotted time, put pen to paper (or keyboard, but sometimes engaging in the physical act of writing the old-school way helps to connect you to your mind more effectively) and start writing. DO NOT STOP until your timer goes off. Do not edit, do not stop to think about what you’re going to say, do not censor yourself in any way.

Writing this way helps to free you from your fear. It tells that inner editor, the one that makes us think we’re no good, that makes us pause, that makes us question, to shut up. This is all about letting whatever comes to mind flow. Let it all out. Even if you can’t think of anything to say, write, “I don’t know what to write.” Or, “I hate doing this.” But keep writing and don’t stop.

2. Think in opposites. Think of two words that are opposite. Lead/follow. Big/small. Together/apart. Lazy/ambitious. You get the idea. Write a few words about how a character you might be working on could be both things at once. A business man is successful and unhappy. A woman leaves prison only to feel caged by her circumstances.

Or, if you’re a nonfiction writer, think of how a concept might encompass two ideas at once. A business plan is complicated but easy to follow. The point is to stretch your mind, try to eliminate black and white thinking so that creative thinking can get through.

3. Look at visual art. Go to a museum, scour the Internet, or even my favorite, get on Pinterest and type “art” or “art inspiration” in the search box. You will be amazed at what comes up. Pick something that strikes you and write about it for a few minutes.

Taking some time each day to do some exercises like these will really help get those creative juices flowing!

Happy writing!

Erin Liles is a freelance editor and writer. She is the author of A Friend for Freckles, and her young adult novel is represented by Mansion Street Literary. You can visit her website at
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


  1. Erin--Thanks for the post. The second tip I especially like. Every person (and every thing) is just a big ball of gray--not all black and white--so exploring how that black and white coexist in a person or a situation is intriguing. Thank you for the suggestion.

    1. Hi, Sioux,
      I think it's hard for people to see shades of gray. It's like we're wired to see things as simply as possible. But, I think writers and artists do a great job of finding the space in between, the complexity of people and ideas. So glad you found the post thought provoking! Cheers!

  2. Great ideas, Erin! I like the examples you shared in #2, and will try that exercise. #1 and #3 are things I've done before and found they work well. Thanks for the post!

    1. Hi, Angela,
      So glad you enjoyed the post. It's great to hear some ideas have already worked for you!

  3. Good ideas! The quote from Natalie Goldberg reminded me what a classic that book is. Re-reading it will also spark a lot of writing.

    1. Thanks, MP! Isn't Natalie Goldberg great? When I was in my early twenties, I read all her books!


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