Climbing Out of the Creative Ruts

Every now and then, I feel like I am stuck in a creative rut where I feel my writing lacks the usual energy or luster. I place an urgent call to my muse only to learn via voice mail that she is currently on vacation with no access to me until further notice.

So, what’s a writer to do?  How do you pull inspiration from the world around you when fall into a temporary (hopefully) slump or find yourself fighting to break free of the repetitious rut?

In a recent Success magazine article entitled “Wake Up to a Richer Worldview,” Shawn Achor said we just need to open the parameters of our reality.  At the beginning of the article, he asks readers to draw a coffee cup.  Any coffee cup and saucer. He even invites readers to get creative.

He then predicts that he could tell me what my drawing looked like. I had my doubts. My artistic ability in the drawing realm isn’t fantastic, but I thought I did a great job of putting a stick version of my cat laying in his sunspot on the side of the cup.

Achor went on to guess that I drew the cup from the side view — where you could see a drawing or logo and not from the top looking down or even from the bottom looking up as if seeing the cup and saucer from underneath a glass coffee table.

He suggests that we open our minds to new ways of viewing every day items, such as art.  Or to dream up five ways to describe one event. Or, while trouble shooting an everyday problem, find five ways that solve the problem.

What I love about this idea is that even though I was applying my creative flair to drawing a coffee cup — I didn’t expand the parameters of what it could be. I wasn’t stretching my mind, horizons or boundaries but working within the pre-determined confines of my mind. I was working within what I know — and not experimenting with shifting the possibilities.

How does this help with the absentee muse? Outline five ways the next chapter in your book can go? Dream up three different ways you could do something nice for the neighbor that watched your cat while you were in Oregon. Make up seven different versions of how you made coffee that morning.

Stretch your boundaries and be daring with the possibilities. Only you can construct the walls that confine your creative ability. Train your mind to go above and beyond the obvious — and your muse will start taking your calls.

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