Find your writing Zen – Part 2

Angela Cairns — Amazon best-selling author, writing coach, BBC guest broadcaster, physiotherapist, and holistic practitioner.

Writing blocks can strike at any time through procrastination, over-perfectionism or imposter syndrome.

From Angela’s healthcare background and writing experience, her passion is to help you find your writing Zen.

We tend to think of writing as a cerebral activity, and it is. Still, anyone who has experienced a writer’s cramp or neck strain will know that keeping the body happy is an integral part of successful writing.

If you want to write with ease – move your body and free your mind.

I always start the day by walking to get my body moving and the blood circulating to my brain. If I’m writing, I make the walk mindful, using all five senses. I observe the people around me, the colours, and the smells. I listen not just to the obvious sounds but also to the background sounds that perhaps we have taught ourselves to filter out. I run my fingers along different surfaces noticing the texture and temperature. Store detail and vibrancy trying to feel the world around me. The concept is to use techniques which awaken our creative brains and make writing easier.

Some colours are well-researched to stimulate creativity. Yellow releases serotonin to help create a happy mood and act as a wake-up call to the brain. Yellow also aids concentration and boosts enthusiasm. So perhaps seek out some yellow flowers on your walk or add a little yellow to your writing space. Citrus smells, and tastes are also great for enhancing mood and concentration.

Setting up your workstation correctly will help with your writing task – feeling uncomfortable is a creativity blocker, and causing over-use injuries by not thinking of your body will slow you down long term.

Place a laptop in a raised holder and use a separate keyboard and mouse so your screen and keyboard are at the right height.

Wear glasses if needed and work in good light to avoid eyestrain.

Pause breaks are essential – every 30-45 minutes, stand up and stretch, have a wiggle, slap your arms and legs briskly, or put on some music and dance. Any of these will improve productivity and performance; your body will thank you.

‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going!’

Try to change things when you hit a block in the writing process. If you always do the same thing, you’ll always get the same result.

Look at things from a different angle:

  • Use a different writing medium – get off the computer, pick up a pen, or perhaps dictate for a while. Write on coloured paper or with other colour inks.
  • Release your inner artist by using a different skill. Doodle or draw a picture, make a flow chart, or indulge in colouring.
  • Open a thesaurus and look up keywords related to your project, then write down synonyms. Different words may trigger the writing flow again.
  • Move rooms, head off to a café or the park.
  • Stand up to write, an ironing board makes a quick standing desk, or sit on the floor.

The idea is to get out of a rut, remove a block, and make a change.

  • Drink a different drink.
  • Brush your teeth with the other hand.
  • Put on music or turn it off. Incidentally, music with four beats in the bar is proven to increase concentration and creativity.

Making these changes fires up nerves in different brain areas, which is motivating. The brain loves change.

Now we’ve moved our bodies, we can also use our imagination:

Imagination, daydreaming, and visualisation are powerful creative tools.

  • Imagine what you want to achieve. Use detail and your five senses to make the image vivid.
  • Now identify the feelings that go with achieving your goal. Close your eyes and imagine your satisfaction, the applause, or an audience at your book launch.
  • Re-visit your daydream regularly – at least first thing in the morning and before you go to sleep.
  • Take at least one action daily that moves you towards achieving your goal.

It’s crucial to stop fearing what could go wrong and think about what could go right. Put aside inhibitions, embrace new ideas and let your creative brain go wild.

Happy writing.


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