My mind is in a flat calm. It looks like an empty screen. It sounds like a clock ticking in the distance. It feels like failure. Writer’s block has visited me before, and it will visit again. It might even drop in this evening while I’m curling up with the cat, fingers on the keyboard.
I’m editing an anthology that explores the creative process (Atelier Project, April 2015), but the miracle of inspiration is still a mystery. Although there are no words to keep you from slipping into the bog of creative block, there are habits that will keep the beast at bay.
What do you do when a deadline is pressing and your mind is a blank? Say thank you. Talk about the things that you appreciate. Sing. Breathe. Pray. Write. The habit of thankfulness is creatively stimulating.
Numerous studies have been circling through the rounds of the web lately that encourage a habit of gratitude for a happier lifestyle (Entrepreneur, Huffington Post). Happy people are not happy because their lives are better than yours, but because they appreciate the details of the life they live. They are people who have learned to feel and to express gratitude. On top of that, according to more studies (Business Week, Scientific American), happy people are the most creative. Trauma and torment may inspire great works, but emotional upheaval is not beneficial for creativity.
I began a gratitude journal after I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Her book is a beautiful exploration of the way that a self-conscious habit of gratitude changed her life and saved her from bitterness and regret. I began with her Joy Dare, a quirky calendar that listed three particular items to give thanks for each day. I recorded my gratitude in a journal; the entries stretched long and longer and, in just a couple of months, I had filled an entire book.
Every day I had more and more to write. I found more to be thankful for, and I found words coming to me that I wanted to express. Ideas came asking for expression; words came to verbalize the thoughts. The words extended beyond my gratitude journal. I was brimming with more inspiration than I had experienced in years.
I still get becalmed in creative block. But I’ve learned that there are all sorts of ways to pull myself out, and the habit of gratitude is not only inspirational but life-enriching. I recommend taking the time to cultivate and express a thankful heart.