Top 5 ways to open up your creative flow

1. Trust your canvas: don’t fear the blank screen. 

With even a single glimmer of an idea, don’t hesitate until you’re overwhelmed with ideas, start writing about it in the simplest form possible right now. Start with an outline, in the middle, the ending or the first line of the first page. Picture a scene or interaction between just two characters or the thoughts of only one character and run with it. Then go back and copy and paste it into the proper place if you need to. It doesn’t matter in which order you create it, as long as you keep writing you’re moving forward with the story, even if you work from somewhere in the middle outward. *Hint: A lot of mystery writers write backward on purpose through their stories to fold up the storyline plot twists.

2. Inspiration is everywhere:  stop, relax and listen to your inner voice.

If you already know your characters then explore them. Read about or research where they live. Imagine what they might eat, how they dress, their hobbies, interest’s or dreams. Make them very real in your mind so that they are easier to envision in certain situations.

If you don’t have an idea for a story and you’re starting from nothing, know that your story can come from anywhere. Looking for divine inspiration is easier than you might think. What inspires you? What makes you want to…? What thrills you or makes your heart skip a beat?

Think about your favorite book, movie or something interesting you found on the web. A personal story you overheard. Imagine how you can change it in a way to make it better or more interesting. Think about the hero/heroin and then imagine the plot as if it were you in their place. How would you have done things differently? How should the story have unfolded?

3. Give yourself subliminal encouragement: become a Post-It junkie.


Use an entire pad of post-it notes and on separate pages write out different scenario’s, scenes, ideas, characters on each note. Now do this every time you get inspired by something else inside your story. Post them somewhere within sight of where you normally write. Put them where you will see them throughout the day to give yourself encouragement and future inspiration. Leave ideas in your wallet, car, and pockets. Leave the posted ideas, plots and story builders for yourself everywhere. It will not only help to keep you inspired but will also rekindle your desire and make you want to take a time out to write.

4. Eliminate distractions, concentrate: find someplace comfortable, turn off Internet!

If you don’t absolutely need the Internet to do the task before you, disconnect. Literally pull the plug. This may sound drastic, but really, the Internet is the biggest time-waster ever invented (which is why I love it). It will suck you in and never let you go. It’s like crack, but with an educational and entertaining value. Turn it off.

Now focus.

5. Find your timing: pick your schedule, don’t wait for it present itself.

It makes very little sense to try to sit at the keyboard or with pen and paper to concentrate on the next greatest novel while the children are ripping through the house screaming about the tardiness of their next meal, just before your roommate decides to throw another impromptu party or your boss is waiting for you to finish up the task at hand. Pay attention to your daily routine and find an opening. Really listen to yourself and discover when is the best time for you to be able to open up your ideas and create. If all you can find is an hour a day, or one day a week, then use that time. Do not ‘wait until there’s a better time’, because let’s face it the better timing won’t happen until it’s too late.



Sometimes the creative flow picks bad timing for us and it strikes somewhere outside the schedule. Don’t fool yourself by thinking, ‘I’ve got to remember that’, because as good as your intentions are, you will forget that great idea and frustrate yourself even more by crashing your creative flow with the process of trying to remember. In these instances I have a cheap notebook in my purse, by my bed and in my car so that I can quickly jot down a really good spontaneous idea. Not a novel worth, just some quick notes to help refresh my memory. I also text my own cell phone with unexpected inspirations that I really don’t want to lose. Later, when the creative juices seemed to have dried up, I refer to these fantastic ideas.

Instant creative flow!

Good luck to you in your endeavors to write. Don’t stop. If there is a will, you will find a way.

S.J. Johnson

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