Finding Focus In Different Media

When we get stuck in our creative process, one of the best things we can do is change the channel.

Image by Taryn (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The main medium for my creative energy is writing — whether I communicate with bloggers and editors, draft a post, or jot down something just for myself or a handful of close friends.

When I get stuck, though, one thing I almost always find useful is to stop thinking with and through words.

My default alternative is music. It might still contain verbs and nouns if it’s a voice-centric genre, but something about the abrupt transition from the written word to the clash of sounds often shakes me out of the writerly malaise I’m experiencing. Music, just like writing, often aims to convey emotion and tell a story, so hearing how a composer deals with these challenges can be incredibly illuminating.

It doesn’t have to be music, of course; it can be cooking, or playing a game, or solving a puzzle. Here is celebrated novelist Nicole Krauss, explaining how looking at visual art has helped her think about storytelling:

Studying art has helped me to stretch my mind to imagine different ways of translating the luminescence of an abstraction — a feeling or the raw substance of what we might call a recognition (before it’s converted into an idea) — into the compact substance of words. Certain abstractions work better in certain mediums, but I think we can learn a lot by trying to understand how a painter, say, does his or her work, and how the message is conveyed to us through a totally different set of circumstances, visual rather than rhetorical.

(“A Conversation with Nicole Krauss,” boldtype)

This isn’t so much switching gears as changing modes of transportation — however short the trip, it can be very refreshing.

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  1. I have a history of photography prior to writing and find that these types of creative release are very soothing. Expression is a powerful tool when trying to be successful, or even just releasing some stress!

    Thanks for sharing this post mate!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. When I felt I was getting into a rut, I looked at photography as an alternative way of expressing myself. I found myself getting richer in experiences. We only need to turn to another form of self expression to get the creative juices flowing.


  3. I can’t write with music on, but I frequently take breaks to listen to music or play guitar or keyboard very, very badly. I did a songwriting course, and even in that I found conceptualising my songs better when I wasn’t distracted by music. Taking breaks is what works for me, rather than doing it simultaneously.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My attention span does not lasts longer than five minutes. I have to do something in between doing something like watching tv, cooking and writing at the same time. Anything but listening to music. I can hold a decent conversation while typing an article and listening to the news.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. For the past month, I made the switch between writing and micro-films for nothing more than a break, albeit an experimental one. Nearly at the end of the series (it finishes on Christmas) and it’s been very entertaining 🙂


  6. Music has always been a source for me as well. Put on some good headphones, kinda zone out and let my mind wander while the sound plays. My mind will come up with all sorts of interesting things. Lately it has also been ambiant sounds, the birds, people walking etc.

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  7. I totally agree. When ever I get stuck doing anything I put in my earbuds and listen to my playlists. It always helps me get out of a rut no matter what that rut is. Thanks for the post.


  8. I switch to music when I’m in a rut with my writing. When stories are just not coming it’s time for me to write some songs. The switch still allows me to use my creativity and when I’m finished with a song, I’m ready to start back on my stories.


  9. I so much relate to whatever you have menfioned, when its finding focus you may very well discover it in any thing you love doing…For me though Music may not be the one…I feel reading abstracts makes me get back the purpose behind my words…
    Good Writing !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I fully agree. Physical outlets, which often involve music, always inspire me. At min. if I dance, or draw, or do metal work, or fabric, a brisk walk, it allows the flow “out” necessary to get things moving again. 🙂

    Ps. I love your daily inspirations. I could not comment on them so commenting here. I have done the ABC one for 2 decades, for those I love. You inspired one the day you posted that, it flew out of me effortlessly. I have yet to post it. The first one I have done in a generic form, for all. So thank you.

    Thank you for your service, inspiring many of us. Many continued blessings to you and yours.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Good advice, sometimes I can’t listen to music when I’m writing because I feed off of the energy too much, and what I was writing about, that feeling that inspired me, has transformed as a spawn of the music I’m listening to. It seems like that isn’t a problem for you, but sometimes I just draw from within and center myself on the feeling that I’m writing about, or the feeling that got my pen to the paper in the first place. Sometimes, dumbing yourself down and staying centered can be the best remedy to writer’s block.


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