Be Inspired

5 Ways to Get Yourself to Think Outside of the Box

When deadlines have you down, revitalize your mind with these exercises

After a long day of writing and editing, your creative juices are most likely depleted. If you work in the writing industry, day-to-day deadlines can get you down, give you writer’s block, and leave you physically and emotionally drained. But, in order to come up with killer pitches, deliver awesome stories and ultimately impress your editors, you need to be on your A game. Keep your mind fresh and boost your creativity with these 5 tips to get yourself to think outside of the box.

Take long walks

Exercise will encourage your endorphins and sunlight provides a necessary infusion of vitamin D, but that’s not all a walk will do. Seeing and experiencing life away from your desk will get your creative juices flowing. In Drew Magary’s inspirational essay Walk: A Message To The Class Of 2017 about the benefits of walking, he writes “walking is writing” and “you think of cool ideas,” which you know is true.

Think about the last time you took a walk and how refreshed you felt afterwards. Think about all the interesting things you saw and thought of that left you feeling motivated. “The most important moments in life usually happen when you’re walking,” writes Magary.

Make a point to talk to strangers

Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, after serendipitously chatting with a stranger at the grocery store or on the subway, have you found yourself lifted up and enlightened? Have you ever thought, ‘Gosh, that person is a character out of a novel?’ People are characters and the way they speak, the stories they tell and their overall demeanor can spark a story idea. Chatting with a stranger can inspire a character for a fictional novel or an idea for a journalistic story.

Work in public

In a study published by Oxford University Press, it was found that “moderate noise can enhance creativity,” meaning that the background buzz in a public place like a coffee shop boosts your inspiration level. If you’ve ever crammed for exams in the college cafeteria or written a brilliant poem while waiting at the bus stop, it’s because just the right amount of background noise triggers abstract thinking.

On the other hand, keep in mind that loud noises are distracting and will in turn impair your creativity and productivity. If you want to give the noise-creativity theory a go, head to your local coffee shop or the website Coffitivity, where you can listen to several ambient soundtracks, such as “morning murmur” or “lunchtime lounge,” from the comfort of your home.

Write for yourself

Remember when you were young and you wrote for yourself—not for an editor, a publication or an instructor? You came up with creative stories; you chronicled memories; you kept a bedside journal. While you always have loved writing and you have turned your passion into a profitable career, your writing assignments aren’t always for yourself. They are for editors, readers and in the end, a paycheck.

Try writing for yourself. It’s therapeutic, eye-opening and energizing. Keep a journal or make yourself write for 10 minutes and submit your piece to the flash nonfiction website Life in 10 Minutes. The site was created by Richmond, Virginia-based author and writing instructor Valley Haggard who publishes short stories by writers of all levels and backgrounds from around the world.

“It’s important for people who are writing professionally to write for themselves because I think that if you lose contact with that creative force—that isn’t writing for a purpose for someone else—you will burn out in your job a lot faster,” says Haggard. “I have lots of people who come into my classes who write for a living and lose their joy for writing. This is a way of refreshing yourself and revitalizing the writing process just for yourself.

Or, don’t write at all

If your workday is spent writing, editing, brainstorming and pitching, words may be the last thing you want to look at or think about. Instead tap into another creative outlet. Pick up a paint brush, download a Podcast, dirty your hands in the garden, or just sit in silence and do some meditating. Stimulate your mind in other ways that will get your wheels churning if you’re maxed out on words.


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Be Inspired, Productivity