We’ve all been there…You’re excited to work on a new song or project, you get everything setup and ready to start your next masterpiece, and then…nothing. You sit there and wait for creativity to hit so you can begin, but again, you are left staring at an empty pad of paper and 2 hours of your life have magically disappeared. It’s a vicious cycle; the frustration starts to compound, ideas elude you, and finally, you’re so sick of the entire process you completely give up for the day, or even longer!

Writer’s block can strike at any time, greatly affecting your productivity and quickly deflating your confidence, and if you don’t know how to actively fight it you will succumb to it, and give up on the creative process altogether. This week, we will be taking a look at a few key things we can do in order to overcome writer’s block and increase our productivity. By the end of this article you will see this is all about forming good habits during the creative process that will automatically set you up to be more productive and successful.

Take a break FIRST. This is incredibly important, and you will be astonished at how much this tip alone will help you get the ball rolling in the right direction. Think about it: if you don’t take a few minutes to clean your mental slate of whatever you were doing before trying to jump into the creative process, you will most likely find yourself stuck in the wrong frame of mind right off the bat. Force yourself to take 15-20 minutes to mentally switch gears and you will be amazed at the difference it makes. I like to work out while listening to music that inspires me before I start a project of my own, because my mind is subconsciously analyzing the music, looking for recognizable patterns that make the music successful. The beauty of this is the right side of your brain (the creative side) is firing non-stop while you are simultaneously focusing on how hard you are working out, thereby making the initial creative process both passive and automatic!

Warm up. It almost sounds too simple, but it bears repeating: TAKE THE TIME TO WARM UP SO YOU CAN KEEP UP WITH YOUR IDEAS AS THEY COME TO YOU. When I’m working on music, I’m usually starting on a piano or keyboard, which means I need my fingers ready to capture my thoughts as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to keep the creativity flowing. There is nothing more frustrating than having to re-record a part or idea several times simply because you cannot play it correctly. The more you have to stop and go back, the more you are impeding the creative process, and this will leave you frustrated and walking away from a half-finished project almost every time.

Set a Timer. This is very powerful because it works in several ways. Setting a timer allows you to monitor your progress in specific time increments so you can track how much work you are actually getting done. Even if you find yourself stuck, if you have a timer set to go off in 45 minutes you will mentally make a decision to keep working until it goes off, because you know at the end of the time you can either step away for awhile and take a break or keep pressing forward because you’re in the zone. Timers also help you get used to a workflow that works well for you, because you will start to become more efficient with your time and be able to gauge how long it will take you to complete a project.

Take Frequent Breaks. I love it when I’m working on a project and I can’t pull myself away because it is going so well that I don’t even keep track of time. However, the scenario that happens much more often is I hit a bump along the way and proceed to stare at my project blankly, fishing for ideas of where to go next. Taking breaks allows you to step away for a few minutes and come back to it with a fresh perspective. Furthermore, you need to give yourself breaks every couple of hours simply due to ear fatigue. By all means, if you are in the zone keep going as long as you would like, but for the other times when you are not, you will be amazed at how much easier it is to stay on track when you know you have a break coming in 30 minutes.

I think you will find these simple ideas will greatly increase your productivity, as well as allow you to identify when you are wasting time and need to step away for a few minutes. Don’t get discouraged! We all face creative blocks, lack of productivity and motivation at times, but you can train yourself to form good habits that will put you in the best position to be successful in your creative endeavors.