3 Things That Kill Creativity and Efficiency for Writers

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Think about what you created and got done last week. Think about the written work you produced yesterday or today. How do you feel about it?

Did you craft an awesome new chapter, article or blog post? Did you make great strides in moving your creative vision forward?

Or … did you get sidetracked, lose focus, and get off track?

To help you experience more fulfillment in the pursuit of your writing goals, here are three culprits you should be aware of that get in the way of your creativity and efficiency as a writer:

1) A short attention span

You know that your best work is usually created while you are in a state of “flow” or simply “in the zone.” You get immersed in the process of writing and lose all track of time.

But when you get pulled out of that flow too often, frustration sets in. Yes, nothing slows down a creative endeavor more than distractions.

And the distraction can be external (other people and things interrupting you) or internal (your own monkey mind yammering away). Either way, it’s hard to dive deep into the project at hand when your mind is elsewhere.

2) A pessimistic outlook

I know, frustration and negativity have their place. Many classic books and songs were written in response to heartache or raging against some injustice. I get that. It’s great to poor emotion of all kinds into your work. But pessimism is a different animal.

I contend that having a downtrodden attitude and always thinking of yourself as a “tortured artist” will weaken your creativity. Don’t get me wrong. We all have fears and doubts — and a certain amount of that is natural.

But if your predominant thought is “My work sucks” or “Nobody supports me” or “Writing is such a struggle” … you will continue to suck, struggle and go unnoticed.

A more positive and playful outlook on your creative work will lead you to take more risks and stumble upon more innovative ways of doing what you do.

Bottom line: “Tortured artist” does not equal “creative genius.”

3) A rigid or narrow perspective

Writers are different, right? We see the world in a skewed sort of way and don’t fit in with “normal people.” Well, that can be true. And I hope you have come to love and appreciate your inner weirdness.

But no matter how unique a mind you may have, you are still a human being. And one of the big traits you share with other humans is your brain’s ability to form habits and routines.

Whether you like to admit it or not, you fall into patterns with everything from brushing your teeth and getting dressed to making a sandwich and driving a car. Yup, you do many of those common things on autopilot, without thinking too much about them.

There’s a real good chance that similar patterns have also crept into your creative process. That may not be a horrible thing, but it does beg the question: Are your creative routines lulling you into a narrow range of verbal expression?

Are you limiting your writing explorations to comfortable formulas or to the boundaries you have reached many times before?

If there’s enough interest in this topic, I will follow up with a series of blog posts that offer solutions and ways to overcome these three creativity killers.

In the meantime, how do you combat inner and outer distractions, a pessimistic attitude, or routine-based thinking?

I welcome your comments below.


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  1. Rene` Patat of Touch of Elegance says:

    Thank you for the information and, oh how true it is. I am working on a book now, and have been for four years, actually three books. Speaking of being sidetracked!

    What I’ve discovered in this process is several things: First, trying to do too many things at once tends to pull you away from desiring to be creative; one book is complete but my lack of believing it is read-worthy has held me from submitting for publishing; and, time to fulfill the process and move to completing the other two, one of which involves a great deal of research, in hopes that even one will be published.

    The first is a simple “bathroom” reader, the second very factually based and extremely time consuming to complete and will be very controversial, yet, in my view, a necessary writing; and, the third, somewhat a semi-fiction based autobiography. I call the latter semi-fiction as the beginning of the book is the twist and has not yet occurred, but is inevitable.

    Confidence has been my main stumbling block. None of the three are remotely related and I simply don’t want to be “branded” by any of the three.

    My greatest question is how does a writer overcome the issue of confidence?

    Thank you, again, for this blog as it is quite helpful.

  2. Marion L. says:

    Would love to read more on this topic. I’ve finished my first novel, but haven’t touched my latest one in a while. My problem is too much other writing (I work as a freelance writer and editor, as well as a musician manager), so I feel like that other work is draining my creativity so that I don’t have much left to pour into my own fiction.

  3. Joan Marie says:

    So TRUE! Thank you, Bob!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I definitely fall into the pessimistic outlook category. I am constantly thinking “Who wants to read anything I write?” I have started writing three books at different times in my life, and I really enjoyed writing them, until one day I suddenly think it’s crap and trash it. My negative thought patterns have always been there working at me from the inside out. Thanks for posting this. It has made me realize my problem is not with my writing, but with my self-perception.

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