You must be a creative thinker to have a career in magazine and webzine journalism. Use these scientifically-backed tips to stay original, creative, inspired and stave off writer’s block.
BY SARAH KELLEHER
You’re chomping at the bit to churn out pieces for magazines. But there’s something missing: how do you keep up the momentum and stay inspired as time goes on?
One bad habit can destroy your creativity, and you probably do it every day.
Writers Must Make the Most of Boredom
Journalist Manoush Zomorodi discusses brain-storming after a break from writing in her TED talk, How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas.
“I came up barren,” she says. “It wasn’t like there was something there waiting to be unearthed. There was just nothing.”
Two things in her life had changed. One, she gave birth to her son, but that wasn’t the problem. She also got her first smartphone.
“I started to think back, when was the last time I actually had a good idea? Yeah, it was when I was pushing that stroller,” she says, smartphone-free, and bored.
“I started talking to neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists.”
She describes how boredom activates an area of the brain known as the Default Mode Network. In other words, you’re doing something mundane and thinking about nothing in particular, and unique brain activity is stimulated.
But when you pull out your smartphone to kill two minutes in a queue? That’s not happening. So rather than wonder if you’re as creative as you thought you were, it might be time to curb your smartphone habit.
Want to give it a try? Start by going for a short walk, sitting quietly in a nice setting or just taking out your headphones while you do chores.
Chances are, it’ll feel uncomfortable, as your brain strains for stimulation. But with practice, the Default Mode Network will activate and you’ll see your creativity rebound.
Reducing Distractions Increases Creativity in Writers
If that sounds like too big a step, don’t underestimate the power of Flight Mode for short periods during the day. Alternatively, iPhone and Android have Do Not Disturb, which allows emergency calls but silences everything else.
Better yet, why not join the increasing number of people quitting social media?
However, it may be easier to create a new habit than quit an old one. A popular trend for experiencing quiet is meditation. You’ve probably heard it many times before, but that’s for good reason.
Boost Your Writing Productivity by Meditating
In a 2017 study, Rosa Rabio and Giulia Towey discovered, “long-term meditation is linked to improvements of attentional functions, working memory and cognitive flexibility.”
It’s not hard to imagine the effect on your brain-storming, research and creativity.
Is it really that simple? Andy Puddicombe, founder of meditation app Headspace, elaborates in his blog, Discovering creativity: it’s there, but can we see it?
Of your next big ideas, Andy says, “They’re not stored in a separate compartment, we don’t need special creativity exercises to access them – all we need to do is become aware of them.”
That’s not the only reason to give it a try. It can also help to lower your blood pressure, reduce stress, control anxiety and aid sleep. That all translates to better productivity and health.
The good news is you can use your phone for this one, with a meditation app. And yes, chanting is optional!
So download an app, take a breather and supercharge your creativity. You might just turn your quiet moments into your next piece instead of another Facebook post.
What you can try today
- Set up Do Not Disturb on your phone
- Sit quietly for five minutes
- Move your social media apps into one folder and don’t touch until tomorrow
- Download a meditation app
- Go for a walk, no apps allowed!
About the author
Sarah Kelleher is a freelance journalist specialising in practical health, psychology and mindfulness. When she’s not spending time with her son or flying aeroplanes, she’s pursuing her love of travel, fitness, sewing and writing fiction.