Every creative knows the frustration and discouragement that accompanies burnout and dry spells. Are these bouts inevitable or can they be prevented? A number of studies validate the benefits of healthful lifestyle choices in relation to creative energy, and coupled with some easy-to-adopt practices, the answer is a definite “yes”. Give the tips a try and see the affects transform your creative output, in addition to taking your writing to new levels.
1. Get Some Sleep. The best way to maximize creativity is to maintain high levels of serotonin and dopamine, which help to keep you calm but attentive. The secret begins with rest. A minimum of 30 minutes—ideally about 2 hours—of deep sleep will reduce cortisol levels and boost serotonin. That means going to bed relaxed, avoiding alcohol two hours prior, and turning off illuminating devices.
2. Eat Smart. A high-protein breakfast converts into serotonin and dopamine. Caffeine, of course, is a physiological arouser, meaning it will intensify whatever emotions you’re feeling. If you’re motivated it will help, but if you’re stressed it will agitate, so take caution.
3. Break for Exercise. When the heart muscles pump faster, they release a peptide believed to help produce serotonin, so head out for a brisk walk. Studies also have tied walking with enhanced problem-solving abilities. Consider taking short walks throughout the day while editing or mulling over your work. You’ll be surprised how quickly the words flow when the feet are moving.
4. Prime the Pump. Do you read regularly? Besides adding technique to your mental reservoirs and broadening your range of voice, reading literature that excites you provides another dose of serotonin and ushers you all the quicker into the creative zone. Try beginning and ending each day with your nose in a good novel.
5. Train the Brain. Routine is king. When you establish a pattern of work, your physiology becomes automated. This doesn’t mean the routine must be ironclad—it only needs to be established. With a regular pattern, you’ll find your mind begins to work as your seat hits the chair.
6. Set Your Course. Don’t obsess over goals, but try to define flexible mile markers that can help you stay your course and affirm your progress.
7. Feast on Art. When you’re relaxing with friends and family, choose inspiring entertainment—entertainment that stirs your creativity. Note strong dialogue, character techniques, plot devices, what works and what doesn’t work. It’s important to rest, but what better way to learn than while playing.
8. Keep Moving. Don’t surrender to the notion of ‘stuck’. Be cautious even to utter the word. Instead of stewing in negativity and ‘I-can’t-isms’, take a detour. Work on another chapter or another project. Put the pen down and pick up a brush. Exercise your creativity. Never berate it. Treat it as though it hasn’t once failed you—and it won’t.
9. Choose to Believe. Celebrate your progress and remind yourself of all your accomplishments. When you feel discouraged and don’t like some of your writing, turn your thoughts to work that exceeded your expectations. Keep your vision in sight and write on the certainty that you will do again what you have done before.
10. Vacation. Don’t be afraid to take time off. An artist is nothing if he doesn’t live a full and diverse life. A change of scenery does the body, mind, and spirit good.