Day two of Write Nonfiction in November has dawned. Are you feeling the pressure of moving forward with your nonfiction writing project? Are you fingers sitting over the keyboard and…not moving? Do you know what you want to write but are you having trouble getting the words to flow? Or are you having difficulty even figuring out what project to tackle during this month’s challenge or coming up with a subject about which to write?
If you are struggling with the dreaded writer’s block, or any semblance of a lack of creativity, I’ve got just the solution to your problem. I’ve asked my friend and creativity mentor, Mary Knippel to join us right at the start of the Write Nonfiction in November challenge. As the first expert guest blogger, she offers us some superb tips to keep our words flowing all month long. Mary, who also is a writer, speaker and workshop leader, conducts workshops to help participants connect with their creativity. Here’s what she has to say about connecting with your muse and generating creative energy.
Coaxing Creativity Into Your Writing Life
By Mary E. Knippel
Let’s talk about how to get the spark back into your writing. The phrase Writer’s Block is known to strike terror in the hearts of all writers, because when it occurs we can’t call on our creativity to perform as we’d command a dog to sit or to roll over. But we can use little tricks to coax and invite creativity into our lives.
Jack London tells us, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Somewhere in-between Mr. London’s club and the following suggestions, I hope you’ll find a way to invite creativity into your life.
- Take a hike or a walk, or a swim, or do yoga. In other words, exercise and breathe deeply. The great writer Brenda Uland, who wrote the classic “If You Want to Write,” said we should walk for hours to exercise our muse. Since moving a pencil, pen or a computer mouse isn’t much of a weight-bearing activity, we need to unleash our physical side to tap into our brain.
- Give yourself permission to play and develop an attitude of playfulness.Paint, sew, stamp, garden, collage, bead, hit a ball, jump in the water, or blow bubbles. Lose yourself in the sheer joy of bouncing a ball, paddling a canoe, watching the bobble of a fishing line instead of the blinking cursor while you try to figure out the next phrase.
- Seek out the masters. Who do you admire? Why? What is it that sets them apart? Transcribe a chapter of your favorite book. Go to a reading at the local library, bookstore, college, or university. Attend a class or workshop.
- Take a nap. Dream your way to creativity! A Harvard study determined that sleep helps us learn and proposes that sleep is a state required for the nervous system to grow and change. Musicians have heard the scores of operas and the strains of classical masterpieces while asleep. Our dreams produce unusual combinations of ideas that can seem surreal, but they also can result in an amazingly creative solution to an important problem.
- Think outside the box. Experiment and break the rules. There’s usually another way to accomplish everything. Be an inventor. When faced with a seemingly unsolvable problem, decide on the outcome you want and work backwards. The shortest distance between point A and point B may be a straight line, but is getting there that way fun?
- Sit in a different spot. Allowing ourselves to think outside the box means we can shift our perspective. I recently had to wait for my husband at his office and I felt like I was in George Jetson’s cartoon living room–very modern and futuristic without an ounce of warm and fuzzy. It made me appreciate my comforts and how I get into my writing space emotionally as well as physically.
- Change your focus or point of view. Be willing to see the situation from another point of view. Fresh eyes could interpret things in an entirely new light. Stuck about how to approach your writing project? Write in a journal. Write an unsent letter. Make a list of random words.
I’m off to tear up some magazines for a collage before I begin writing. I hope you’ve found an idea or two to get your writing juices flowing.
Come on, coax your creativity today!
About the Author
Mary E. Knippel, writer, creativity mentor, speaker and workshop leader, conducts workshops on California’s San Mateo coast in which participants connect with their creativity, focus on fun and pursue play as a proven method to de-stress and cope with life’s challenges. Throughout her writing and presentations, Mary delivers one consistent message: Don’t wait until a health crisis to take care of yourself.
Mary is working on a memoir and book of personal essays. Her writing has appeared in publications in California, Colorado and Minnesota. As an editor, Mary participated in the 2009 San Francisco Writer’s Conference “Book Doctor” panel and helped numerous aspiring writers with their book projects. In 2009, she edited a book on wedding protocol, It’s Your Wedding–Not Theirs. Mary has made presentations to: the Peninsula Branch of the California Writer’s Club (CWC), the San Francisco Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA-SF) as well as various religious and community groups in California and Minnesota. She served as president of WNBA-SF from 2006-09 and has served on the board of the CWC. A breast cancer survivor, Mary donates a portion of the proceeds from each workshop to breast cancer research.
For more information visit Mary’s web site at