"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Monday, March 21, 2016

Has Your Muse Become a "Recluse"...?

8 Tips to Greater Productivity

It happens to the best of us. The worst happens.
You're on a deadline with an editor for an important assignment. Or you receive an intended disconnection letter for your Internet service. And to your horror, you discover that your "muse" has gone on vacation without you. No notice. No specified destination.
Without your muse, you're left to your own devices.
Your creative well has run dry. No output means no income. You panic.
The more stressed out you become, the less productive you become.

Sound familiar?

No matter how successful you are, or how long you've been penning pieces for a living, you're bound to have a temporary bout with what is known as "Writer's Block."

Perhaps you're even experiencing it now.
If so, in the words of Sarah Palin: "Don't retreat, reload."

Here are a few strategies and practices to consider for greater productivity and less stress...

1. Don't force it.
Sometimes my muse can be like a rebellious teen. The more I try to dictate and demand, the more stubborn she becomes. If this happens for you as well, chill for awhile. Step away from your computer.
Which, by the way, is why I am a strong advocate for working ahead of my deadlines. And you should too. It takes some of the pressure off.

2. Shift gears.
I often find that other creative activities can "feed" my writing. When I am creatively "stuck," I cook, decorate, or dabble in some arts and crafts. Before you know it, I'm relaxed and bursting with new ideas and themes. Try it.

3. Read.
Need inspiration or motivation? Open a book or a blog. Examine the writer's style. His approach. His techniques. What would you do differently? What worked for you as a reader? What didn't? Assess and apply.

4. Watch a movie.
Besides being relaxing, it can help you to better explore and understand plot, characterization, setting, pacing; all of which can enhance other genres of writing and projects.

5. People watch.
Take your laptop or journal to the nearest coffeehouse, or local park, or bus stop. You'd be amazed at how "eavesdropping" and simply being observant will inspire, inform and entertain you. Make sure to be as detailed as possible in recording the day's events. Little things can add up to great discoveries.

6. Spend time with nature.
Spring has sprung. And there's no better time to observe the beauty and wonders of flowers, birds, colors, sounds, greenery. Take a walk. Spend time by the lake. It will awaken your senses and ignite your imagination.

7. Tune into reality TV.
I know, I know. These programs can be a bit ridiculous sometimes, but they can also serve as "fodder" for a future rant, commentary piece, poem, review, or list article. For example, I've written a few posts on this blog, where I make a connection between being a writer/performer and American Idol. And these posts have resonated well with my readers in the past.

8. Try Creative Prompts.
These story starters are really helpful in getting those creative juices flowing and focusing on an introductory lead. The Working Writers Club provides monthly prompts here:

These are just a few ideas to help you become more prolific in 2016, as you seek to build your platform, your business, and your bottom line.

And in the process, perhaps prevent you from playing, "Come out, come out wherever you are!" with your muse.

Have a great week ahead, folks. :-)

Thoughts? Which of these tips have you resorted to when facing writer's block?
Any other suggestions?


  1. Jen--I do all of those frequently, except for #7. (The only reality TV I watch is "The Voice" and "So You Think You Can Dance" which is know is considered reality TV, but when I hear that term, I think more "Survivor" or "Big Brother" or the Real Housewives shows.) All your suggestions are good ones. We have to find ways to keep our writing fresh...

    1. Hi Sioux,

      I enjoy "The Voice" as well. Blake and Adam are certainly two good reasons to watch. :-) I'm not surprised to find out that you do most of these things listed; you're pretty widely published in "Chicken Soup," to my envy. LOL
      Thanks so kindly for stopping by. You've been missed here. :-)

  2. Great tips Jennifer, thanks for posting!

    1. Hi Marja!

      How have you been? Lovely to hear from you on this. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Have a great week ahead.

  3. I've caught my muse napping off and on lately. I find it's often due to stress or too much going on. Praying first helps, because it helps direct my priorities elsewhere. Then I do a little of all of the above. You are right, you often need to "change the subject" in your head to jump start the muse again. Thanks so much for these wonderful tips.

    1. Hi Karen,

      It was my pleasure. And prayer? It does indeed work wonders for many things. :-) Thanks for adding to the mix here.

  4. I don't get writer's block, but rather, writers fatigue. And often I'll get bummed because of the competition - growing all the time - out there. All of your points are well taken and maybe I'll even try reality TV. =0)

    1. Hi Sue,

      Reality TV may just be the ticket. :-) Keep us posted. Thanks for your thoughts.