Tuesday, February 23, 2021

How to Use Your Walk or Run to Unlock Your Creativity & Get Unstuck

I have an announcement to make! I am now accepting guest bloggers for my weekly blog articles. If you would like to be considered, leave a comment or hit reply on the email version and let me know. My first guest blogger is Ursula Saqui. Take it away, Ursula!

Thanks, Christie.

Do you often feel stuck in your ability to be creative? Do you sometimes get so frustrated you want to leave your current work in progress and never return to it?

These feelings and thoughts often leave you wondering if you were ever really that creative, if you should continue to struggle, or if you really have anything worthwhile to say.  And it doesn't seem to matter how long you have been writing or what kind of success you have had. These roadblocks make it feel like you have never written anything good at all.

A quick search yields many tricks and tips for writer's block, such as reading a book, listening to music, playing, and freewriting.  However, the solution that has worked the best for me is taking a creative walk or run.

Use Your Walk or Run to Unlock Your Creativity and Get Unstuck

The following are five guidelines I practice when I walk or run to increase my creativity and solve any writing issue.

Go outside and leave your problem behind

Staying indoors puts you right in front of the usual negative triggers.  You see the unfinished manuscript, the bills that need to be paid, the dog who needs to be let out, and the room that you want to paint.

Resolve to go outside regardless of the weather conditions, even for fifteen minutes.  The outdoors is out of your authority, responsibility, and control.  There is nothing for you to do except experience it (and watch for erratic drivers). 

When you leave your desk and go outside, leave your problem behind.  You don't take what you are struggling with on your walk or run. If thinking more about the issue was the solution, you wouldn't be stuck. It's only by letting it go can it be solved.


Go to a different place

Our tendency when we are stuck is to do more of the same.  And when that doesn't work, our frustration grows as now we are working twice as hard with no results.  Therefore, walking or running the same route you always do will not boost your creativity. 

Research new areas in your community that you could explore on foot. One of my favorite places to go is county parks. They usually have a wide range of wildlife, habitations, and vegetation.

Go somewhere new instead of walking out of your front door.  Wherever you decide to go, remember that you need to do something different instead of doing more of the same. You and your creativity are worth the extra effort to go someplace new.

Be present in the world

Having earbuds in, listening to your favorite podcast, or talking on the phone isn't being present in the world.  They are often defense mechanisms used to distract us from unpleasant thoughts such as, "What am I going to do about my project?"

Being present in the moment helps you move through self-defeating thoughts, reduce stress, and increase your ability to observe the surroundings.

To take full advantage of your creative walk or run, leave distractions behind.  Silence your phone or put your phone on airplane mode and tuck it in a pocket so you won't be tempted to use or look at it. Make your creativity walk or run a priority above everything else.

Set no parameters for pace, steps, or distance

Or for people like me, this is not a competitive training session. If you find this guideline challenging, resolve to take another walk or run to meet whatever fitness goal you feel like you are missing out on.
Looking at your watch to see how far or fast you've gone means you are missing out on what is going on in the world and the opportunity to get unstuck. You will also be more reluctant to stop and observe things or take notes on ideas that come to mind.

We are all busy and like to multi-task, but in doing so, we miss out on the present experience. The purpose of your walk or run is to reset your creative mind—nothing else.

Engage your senses

Your creativity is lacking because everything seems dull, tired, and shapeless, or you are overwhelmed with stimuli.  Deliberately channeling your senses counteracts these roadblocks to creativity.

Once outside, close your eyes, take a round of deep breaths inhaling all the fresh air, and exhale slowly, imagining that you are purging all the staleness inside of you. If thoughts about being stuck come up, imagine them leaving your body with every step or breath you take.

As you walk or run, notice the world around you using each of your senses. Be curious about what you notice, even if it doesn't seem to relate to your current issue.  Ask questions, make up stories, or even sing songs about what you observe. Believe what you are noticing is essential, and let your subconscious mind make the needed connections.

You want to get unstuck and feel creative again? You can.

You want to look at your work in progress without daggers in your eyes? You can.

These guidelines won't be easy to implement. Almost everything in our society is set up to encourage us to be inside, doing repetitive things while being distracted and overstimulated.

I know because I've struggled with the same things.  However, with tenacity, you can implement these guidelines and overcome creative blocks, solve problems in your work in progress, and generate ideas and prompts for new projects. 

So, imagine leaving your problem behind, putting yourself in a different environment with no distractions or parameters, and being present in the world with your senses fully engaged. What kind of beautiful, creative things will happen for you?

Ursula Saqui, Ph.D., is a writer, runner, and ruminator. In addition to working on her first thriller novel, she has a monthly column "Life in the Comment Section" in The Daily Drunk and has been published in Multiplicity Blog.  She lives in the Midwest with her family and five cats.

Have you experienced a time when your run or walk unlocked your creativity? Share your comment here.

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