01 May 2012

Six Ways to Give Your Brain a Spring Break

By Elizabeth Borton

Have you ever had “writer’s block?” When you just can’t come up with the words, the deadline is looming and you start to panic? It’s happened to me plenty of times.  I find it’s particularly true in the spring. The weather warms up, flowers are blooming and my mind starts wandering. Sound familiar? 

Try these tips to give your brain a spring break.

  1. Take a walk outside. Nothing like a change in scenery to change your perspective. Just relax and take it all in…the sights, the sounds, the smells…the whole sweet soup of springtime. By taking your mind off the task at hand, you’ll give your subconscious a chance to work on the problem and deliver a solution.
  2. Just breathe. Hmm…sounds easy doesn’t it? Breathing is something we take for granted. But have you ever closed your eyes and really focused on your breathing for five minutes? Not so easy to do if you’re a beginner, but boy is it relaxing. I highly recommend breathing (meditating) to all my friends!
  3. Switch gears. Surely you have other tasks on your “to-do” list. Give your brain a break by focusing it elsewhere. When you come back to the writing challenge you just may have some fresh ideas.
  4. Carry a notebook. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Heck, a napkin will do. Just be prepared. Because once you relax your brain, the ideas will pop up at the strangest times. I keep one in my car, next to my bed and of course, at my desk.
  5. Start in the middle. Who said you have to start with an award-winning headline or pithy opening statement? Start with some of the factual parts of your writing that are easy to compose. You can circle back to your witty headline once you get on a roll.
  6. Just do it. American poet William Stafford offers this advice, “There is no such thing as writer’s block for writers whose standards are low enough.”  I love this quote. Not because I think you should write terrible copy, but because you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously. Sometimes you just have to start putting words on paper. You’ll find it’s a whole lot easier and way less stressful to edit something than to stare at a blank screen.

The next time your mind starts wandering, don’t fight it…give your brain a spring break.