I’m the type of writer who doesn’t force himself to write every day. I’ve never held myself to strict word-count (because, even if I could achieve one, the achievement felt hollow — what about their quality? Their feel?).
I’ve never used the Write Or Die app, or rigorously stuck to a Morning Pages routine.
All the same — prepare yourself for some humblebrag, folks! — I’ve produced 500+ blog posts and 6 books since 2009. I’ve written a couple hundred newsletters for my readers, and a few hundred writing prompts and creativity lessons for my clients and students. All this, not to mention the small volume of journals that I’ve filled over the years.
Sure, I could have probably produced twice as much writing if that was my goal. But raw production of words has never been my goal as a writer — and it never will be.
But this isn’t the advice you often receive when you’re searching around for resources on how to be a better writer. And that’s half because you need to write more to be a better writer: writing, the skill, needs to be worked for countless hours.
But writing is not all about how much of it you can do, as quickly as possible, as often as possible.
That advice is cheap and easy. So cheap, that anyone can espouse it. So easy, that many do: “You don’t think you’re good enough? Probably because you aren’t. Do more, you petty serf!”
I believe that this mindset is the very reason why so many budding writers succumb to woe-is-me struggles and creative burn-out.
Writing to me is more than a tool. Writing is my friend. I don’t want to treat my friend like a factory line. Writing is my confidant, my coach and my companion. And I completely believe that a sustainable, long-term relationship to writing does way more for writers than produce raw content.
If you’re feeling stuck in your writing, I want to offer a few unconventional ways to get yourself writing again — by changing how you perceive, interpret, and source your creativity.
Best of all, these simple tricks are ones you can rotate through and incorporate into your everyday life, starting this week.
Try These Unconventional Ways to Get Writing
#1: Draw Tarot or Oracle Cards
No, it’s not voodoo!
Tarot cards and oracle cards are wonderful tools that I use to guide my intuition on days when I’m feeling like I have nothing to journal about. Whether you believe the cards you choose are completely random or influenced by a higher source, how you perceive things indicates something about the reality you’re already experiencing.
Like using a thesaurus to find a different word to describe a feeling or idea, tarot and oracle cards use imagery, colors, shapes and symbols to evoke ideas and emotions that are already present within you.
I recommend Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards, which I use myself.
You might also try a free App like Golden Thread Tarot (affil), which teaches you to interpret cards as you draw them, or a classic deck like Tarot! ($3.99) (affil) to make selecting cards quick and easy.
Ready to give it a try to guide your writing?
- Ask a generic question like “What do I need to focus on, share, or embody today?” to guide your intentions. Pull a single card and let your snap judgments and instinctive perception around it direct your reflective journaling today.
- Ask a specific question like “How do I solve this financial issue within the next few weeks?” or “What should I do about my career?” Draw three cards and lay them out from left to right noticing a story, narrative arc, or series of steps you might take.
- Consider a topic or dilemma and draw three cards to represent past, present, and future relationship to that topic or dilemma. What do you see? What do you perceive? How does it highlight or reflect what you already know?
Use the cards as a jumping off point to examine the deeper themes that are present in your life today.
Remember, all you’re doing is see where your mind and heart instinctively drift.
This little ritual can be a phenomenal tool to get your mind focused on self-reflection, goal setting, and action-oriented forward motion.
#2: Go People-Watching
When I’m feeling really stuck in my writing, it’s usually because I feel so disconnected from people that I can’t formulate coherent ideas and messages to share with them. Because, ultimately, if I’m writing something for others, I have to be able to emotionally orient myself from their point of view.
What I do is make myself get outside and go to the coffee shop or anywhere public where I get to be around some human beings.
Here’s how I recommend you give it a try:
- Find a prime people-watching spot and get comfortable. Think train station, coffee shop, or even a busy sidewalk.
- Without being judgmental, source some character inspiration from interesting-looking person who catches your eye. If you’re a novelist or fiction writer, you might give him or her a backstory. Who are they? Where are they headed? What are they worried about, excited for, or putting off for another day?
- If you write non-fiction personal development stuff (like I do), you might instead imagine putting yourself into that person’s shoes and seeing how that shifts whatever you’re writing about. How might s/he receive your offering? What does s/he need to hear, know, or remember that you want to offer?
Whether you’re a writer of fiction or nonfiction, cultivating a little empathy for those around us is the perfect doorway to manifesting more expressive energy.
#3: Use a Guided Meditation.
Are you over-thinking, over-editing, or over-analyzing your creativity to death?
A short, guided meditation might help you reset your head and get out of your own way.
(If you’re skeptical about how a meditation might help your writing, just remember: this writing game is about communicating with your own inner truth as much as it is sharing an idea, story or message with anyone else. Start within.)
There are thousands of free meditations available on YouTube. Either search for a short guided meditation that aligns to your taste, or select one randomly.
My writing assistant Lauren recommends this meditation, and this Thich Nath Hanh metta prayer is one of my personal favorites.
When you’re ready, queue up your video:
- Sit upright for good posture and focus on your breathing. Try to extend your inhales and exhales to be long and even.
- When you’re done, check in and assess how you feel. Did you have trouble concentrating? What thoughts intruded in while you were focusing on the experience?
- If you had a vivid sensory experience while meditating, consider using that as a source for your writing from here. Describe what you saw and what you felt. What colors appeared? Did you imagine anyone you know? If so, how did they make you feel?
Whenever You’re Stuck, Get Unconventional.
Whenever you’re stuck in your writing, the best thing you can do to get back into your practice is to enliven the artistic experience around writing.
Change your approach. Find a new source of energy or inspiration.
Even if you’re still feeling stuck, therein lies a new opportunity for written self-reflection: Ask yourself, where is this resistance coming from?
Whatever you choose to break up your stuckness, keep your writing practice a source of, and outlet for, your own self-knowledge.
Stay unapologetically you!
P.S. — Please note, the above links denoted with “(affil)” are affiliate links, and if you decide to make a purchase through one of the given links, I am entitled to a small commission for the referral. This helps me maintain my website. Thanks!