Blazing-Hot Writing Tactics to Combat Brain-Freeze

Are your writing thoughts caught up in a winter vortex?

Is the cold weather sending your mind into hibernation mode?

Yes, below-freezing temperatures can chill your ability to churn out ideas, words, and paragraphs. It’s hard finding a fresh writing angle when you want to curl up in a warm spot and hibernate, (regardless of what Punxsutawney Phil predicts).

It would be nice, but you can’t wait until spring to get your mind moving. You need some cold weather tactics to get you moving again. They work; you just have to be a little sneaky. Sometimes your mind plays tricks on you. It’s time to return the favor.

Question everything – Take Notes

Sometimes awakening your creativity is as simple as looking at objects or situations in a new way. Stuck inside? No problem, you usually don’t have to go far. What Writing - question redif snow only fell sideways instead of falling down?

This could lead to a story opening with a character that had passed out. Not realizing he was lying on his back could make him wonder why the snow was falling sideways. It could lead another writer to write a story about a world with strange gravity.

What if your computer refused to cooperate in writing your story? Suppose your microwave suddenly started transporting objects across town, or sending them back in time?

Consider other creative folks – Upcycle

I’ll admit it. I’m often on other blogs and even Pinterest when I really could be writing. What do I look at most? I frequent do-it-yourself blogs and sites that discuss upcycling. I like seeing people coming up with ingenious ways of looking at objects and breathing new life into them. I also enjoy reading about folks who can deconstruct a costly item and figure out how to make it for less. That gets my creative juices flowing.

Find the reason for the freezing – What gives?

It can help to analyze the reason you’re using for not writing. Here are a few.

You’ve finished a manuscript.

You were triumphant. It’s easy to stand in the spotlight and not want to start something new. It’s more difficult to post it online, Writing-brain freezeshow it to your client, or send it off to the publisher.  But that’s what writers do. Feel the fear and do it anyway. It comes with the title “writer”.

You’re stuck in the middle.

In this case, starting was easy. You had the beginning worked out before your fingers hit the keys and you had an ending in mind too. But there are days when getting the middle written is like coaxing a king cobra into a flat-rate shipping box.

Taking a walk and getting a change of scenery has worked for me. Reading a chapter in a fiction book or reading up on the craft of writing can set you on the right track again. Working on a new idea or doing some research is beneficial. But don’t give up on the project without its middle. Bagels and donuts don’t necessarily need middles, but stories, articles and marketing copy do.

Life gets in the way.

It’s okay. It happens to the best writers. Circumstances, such as unexpected sickness, are dramatic. In those times, you’re in survival mode and it feels like you aren’t doing the writing you want to. But those times can end up being the inspiration for great writing. Take a break if you need to. But listen to the promptings of your heart to know when to start again.

These blazing-hot recommendations will work on brain freeze. Ask yourself some creative “what if” questions and consider objects or situations in a new light. Tap into the ideas of other creative folks. Ask yourself the hard questions about why you’re frozen in your tracks and take a step toward resolving the difficulty. Soon, your keyboard and your creativity will warm up even with spring several weeks away (maybe it will settle in early).

Some Additional Help:

Need Writing Inspiration? Try an Out of Body Experience

How to Spark Writing Ideas While Watching Television

How to Write More Using Slow-Cooker Creativity

And as an extra fun bonus:

Not Writing? Get a Better Excuse Here

Do you have any “brain-freeze” tips?

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16 comments on “Blazing-Hot Writing Tactics to Combat Brain-Freeze
  1. Erica says:

    I’ve often found that when I’m stuck, it usually means my body is trying to tell me something. Allergies, hungry, been sitting too long and need to get up, low on a certain vitamin or just need water—my biggest culprits. Paying attention to what your body needs can sometimes be half the battle to get unstuck.

    Great post, Peter. And timely. I’m bookmarking this one.

    • Those are definately some good points as well, especially the sitting too long. I once heard it said by a speaker that the mind will only absorb as much as the butt can endure. I think sometimes it’s true for writing too. Taking a break helps.

  2. mcwoman says:

    Peter – Love your expression: It’s like coaxing a king cobra into a flat-rate shipping box. What an image! I wonder if the snake would like a heated bubble pack model better? 🙂 Great post! Thanks.

    • Perhaps he would. Thanks for commenting on that imagery. I was happy with it myself. Since I wrote about Kicking Cliche’s to the Curb, not long ago I had to come up with something original. I hope you’re doing well.

  3. maybe do some sport and think for some puzzle :p

  4. Cate Macabe says:

    The middle of a writing project has frozen me in place, too. Writing a short story in the same universe as the larger piece — not necessarily with the same characters — usually helps me get unstuck.

  5. dmswriter says:

    I like your idea of looking to unconventional happenings (snow falling sideways) for inspiration. I just finished reading “Finding Water” by Julia Cameron. She suggests that when we face the inevitable brain freeze, that we commit to writing for just 15 minutes. That’s it. Often, if we can write for a small amount of time, the rest tends to flow.

    • Yes, I use my timer like that all the time. Sometimes knowing I’ll spend a certain time one and certian time on another makes it easier to comit your mind to. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  6. dana mentink says:

    I have defintely experienced the “stuck in the middle” phenomenon!

  7. The biggest obstacle to my writing is illness – it hurts to move and breathe, much less write.

    Interestingly, I can still do the daily dog-care routine, and some aircraft sheet metal. It mobilizes my resolve differently – the physical action required to get moving makes it easier to keep moving. (The difference, in analogy, between static and dynamic coefficients of friction.)

    Writing takes a mental flogging, and the interesting thing is that the feedback I’ve gotten on what I write through this rather vicious interlude has been very positive.

    But I would not recommend it.

    • While I can’t relate directly to your illness, I know the feeling of being still and trying to get your mind moving. One thing I didn’t mention in the post that sometimes works for me is getting up from the computer and walking with a clipboard and pen jotting ideas and even whole outlines down while moving. Sometimes that gets me unstuck. I’ll keep that in my thoughts and hope you continue to write the way you want to.

  8. I like to take a break and do manual labor for a short time. It seems to bring forth good ideas. I also find reading about writing works, too.

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