As a writer and a musician, I sometimes encounter dry spells of creativity that resemble writer’s block but that do not stem from a lack of ideas, rather a lack of motivation to see those ideas through. If you’ve ever started something with all the energy and passion you could hope for only to suddenly feel mundane and drained halfway through the project, then you’re probably suffering from too many distractions.
What’s Distracting You?
I recently listened to a TED Talk by Manoush Zomorodi, the host of the “Note to Self” technology podcast and author of the book, Bored and Brilliant. As an experiment, she asked her listeners to use an app to track the time they spend on their smartphones every day. What she found was astonishing (and disturbing).
People average two or more hours per day on their phones (equivalent to 2 years of your life), because technology like social media apps and games are addictive and designed like casino slot machines. They grab your attention and reward you, triggering the release of a “feel good” neurochemical called dopamine, the same rush you get when you win a game, accomplish a goal, or hug a loved one.
The constant stimulus of dopamine from getting “likes” and positive feedback on your social media posts, for example, reinforces your brain’s need for those “rewards,” leading to social media (and smartphone) addiction.
While our busy lives offer many distractions, we can control how much we use smartphone technology. Don’t let your phone have power over you! According to Zomorodi’s research, when the brain is allowed to daydream and wander without distractions, it actually allows us to brainstorm ideas easier and improves creativity and productivity. (That’s why you probably get your best ideas in the shower or while driving.)
In that way, “boredom” is a tool that helps us become more brilliant.
Dump Those Distractions
Clearing the path to creativity and productivity involves a sacrifice. You must limit outside distractions, so you can allow your brain to do what it does best. Start by reducing your time on the phone. For the first week, try Zomorodi’s Bored and Brilliant Challenges – small daily steps to becoming a less distracted you.
Once you’ve completed her challenges, try these 25 steps to cure writer’s block, by the Search Engine Journal. Most of these work if you’re not a writer too. They’re great resources for artists and anyone who is interested in stretching their creative muscles further. Good luck!
25 Steps to Cure Writer’s Block
- Free write (stream-of-consciousness).
- Mine old content for ideas.
- Talk to a peer about problems they need help solving.
- Combine ideas.
- Make a list.
- Ask questions.
- Clear your head. (Try a mindfulness meditation.)
- Try a different method.
- Check out competitors for inspiration.
- Work somewhere different.
- Eliminate distractions. (See above.)
- Look at your idea bank.
- Write ideas with pen and paper instead of typing on a computer.
- Reflect on what excites you.
- Read a book or a news article for inspiration.
- Write about news, trends, or controversies in your industry.
- Research info on Quora (or Answer the Public) for keyword-based content ideas.
- Poll your audience.
- Round up stats.
- Curate another person’s work that you love.
- Write a response or review someone else’s blog post or video.
- Read threads on topics in your industry.
- Interview an expert.
- Use a headline generator tool.
- Review your goals for your content.
Do you feel more creative yet? Share your story in the comments below!
Photos from Pexels and Unsplash.com.