5 Techniques for Accessing Your Creative Flow

A main struggle I face as a writer is letting go. Sitting down to write has become easy. I have trained myself to get words on the page. But writing authentically, giving value to words and recording or creating a story with integrity–well, I know writers who seem to have mastered that skill. I imagine them at their writing tables in a state of flow, madly scratching out words as effortlessly as they breathe. It doesn’t happen that way for me.

Much of the time, writing is like pulling teeth. I struggle to connect with my words. If my story hasn’t arrived fully formed, it rarely arrives at all, so I hack and slash it together in a haze of hopefulness that this draft will be the one that expresses the initial idea which prompted the writing in the first place.

And some days I meander. I allow myself to wander all over the page. What I am left with is a meaningless mish-mash. There may be an eloquent turn of phrase buried in the word-strings, but generally those thoughts find their way to the recycle bin. They are cleared cobwebs making space for the next big idea.

Over the years, I have found a handful of techniques useful to stimulating the creative flow. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Practice scent therapy. I often write at Barnes & Noble. My first stop is the candle and soap dish display. I find smell candles and soaps until I find one that lets my shoulders down.

2. Set the table. I also pick up a soap dish and another beautiful object to place in my workspace. When the time comes to stop looking at my work, I handle the objects slowly, sometimes simply letting my eyes land on them.

3. People watch. When writing Fiction, I record the shell of my story and add the (e)motional and physical scenery later. Jotting down observations about people and places means I have a readily available list of strong phrasing. I have conceived many characters this way.

4. Comfort read. I have favorite stories I return to at least once per year, such as A Little Princess. The comfort of a well-known read is like a broken-in pillow.

5. Meditate. I hate to even record this one. It’s touted everywhere. But drawing your focus away from your work can do wonders for your progress.

What are some struggles you face when approaching your work? What are your techniques for blasting writer’s block?

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

6 Discussion to this post

  1. Rica@ Yoga Mat Monkey says:

    I often write poetry when I need a good time out from scene and structure. It’s like my pen is playing a song, and sometimes it just plain sucks! But it does help me creatively. You’re an amazing writer, no matter how you go about it!

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  2. A little Princess, nostalgia….ah!

    Some great tips.

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