get unstuck

This afternoon, my creativity flowed. I’ve revised 3 of my 20 chapters in a few hours, including adding new stories and examples, finding the perfect words, adding fun writing prompts and creativity exercises. WOW!

get unstuck

The best part is that each chapter feels so much stronger and more inspiring with these new additions.

It feels good. But just a week ago, I felt stuck. I read some fiction, spent way too much time on Facebook and Twitter, worked on other people’s books while my own languished. Oh, and I ate lots of chocolate.

You know the drill: I’ll exercise in an hour, two hours. I’ll write in the afternoon, the evening, tomorrow…

So, what got me unstuck that can help you embrace your creative flow and get your mojo back?

5 Ways to Get Unstuck

Lisa Tener book coach gets unstuck

Moving to the Jamestown Library for my writing really freed me up.

#1: Change Your Environment

My first breakthrough occurred a few weeks ago when I practically moved into a conference room at the Jamestown library for two days!

I do my book coaching, teaching and much of my editing from my in-home office that doubles as a guest room.

In winter, I spend even more time in that room where it becomes an entertainment center for watching Netflix or Hulu, phone calls to family (I still prefer a landline)  and reading books from the guest bed

I kept putting off writing the chapter summaries for my book proposal and I finally realized, I needed a new environment, both for the change of scenery and to spread out in a big space, surrounded only by my book ideas.

So, I hauled over to the Jamestown Library and took over a conference room, where I could spread out my book and post-it notes and create the outline of my book.

That outline has been a huge inspiration for me and I consulted its colorful post-it notes throughout today’s writing fest.

get unstuck - spread out

Find a space to spread out to get unstuck.

#2: Make Space

When I first thought of mapping my book with post its I couldn’t imagine where in my home office I could find enough space to spread out.

Creative projects often require both physical space and space for one’s psyche.

The other day, I spoke to an aspiring author who also felt stuck because of all the different projects in her workspace. In a guided visualization we did together, we asked her creative inner muse how to create the space and her muse responded with the advice to rent a separate studio for her artwork and move that out of the space where she’d be writing her book.

In addition, when she told me that her large whiteboard was half covered by ideas for her podcast, I suggested a separate surface for her outlining and book-related work. Why? Every time she looks at her emerging outline, she’d also see the podcast info. In essence, the podcast would intrude on her “head space” for the book. She agreed and soon reported that she had made the space and felt freed.

#3:  Move It

Sitting still at a computer all day practically guarantees getting stuck at some point. We need movement (and blood flow and breath) to keep our brains functioning optimally. Physical stagnancy creates creative stagnancy.

So, whether you stand up and do jumping jacks, yoga stretches or shake your booty, or you don your mud boots and go for a walk in the rain or snow, you’ll likely find yourself refreshed and unstuck when you return to your desk.

Playful Creative Unstuck

Donning my playful headdress at Hera Gallery Gala

#4: Get Playful

If you’re “shoulding on yourself” – “I should write/paint/finish that project” are only going to create more stress. Stress does not tend to bring out our creativity.

When we allow ourselves to be playful in one area of life, we open up to creativity and flow in other areas.

I recently made a playful headdress at the HERA Art Gallery Gala. I put it on just before working on my book and—voila—instant inspiration.

Why does this work? Playfulness is liberating. It helps us go beyond linear thinking and make creative connections we didn’t see before. And once we’re in that creative mindset, we don’t even remember feeling stuck.

#5: Return to Your Vision

In my book writing classes, I noticed a pattern that for many people, if things were going to fall apart, it tended to happen in week 3. “I didn’t write anything.” “I lost my drive.” “I’m stuck.”

Amazingly, I rarely needed to say much because other participants in the class offered what helped them stay on course and unstuck. And the thing I heard over and over was, “Do you read your vision statement daily?”

In week 1 of my Bring Your Book to Life® Program, we start with creating a vision statement for our book—what it will do for our readers, our own work and lives and the greater community or society. I encourage everyone to work on that vision until it feels like a 10 (on the 1-10 scale of inspiration).

Then, I suggest participants read their vision statement daily and also right before sitting down to write.

People find that the vision statement provides focus and clarity:

  • You know where you’re heading.
  • Your vision statement can guide your artistic decisions (“which path, A or B, better aligns with my vision?”).
  • You can use your vision statement to keep you engaged and inspired.

If you read your vision statement and feel uninspired, maybe it’s time to tweak it. Or make a more dramatic change. Your passion in reading it tells you how on target it is.

I find that when writers or other creatives return to their vision statement, it’s often all they need to get back on track—inspired, motivated and creative.


  • Lisa Tener, Book Coach

    Award Winning Book Writing and Publishing Coach, Creativity Catalyst

    An authority on book writing, publishing and creativity, Lisa Tener guides experts, entrepreneurs and visionaries to joyfully write and publish their books. Lisa has been quoted in the New York Times, interviewed on ABC World News, serves on the faculty of Harvard Medical School’s publishing course, and teaches Award Winning Book Writing Courses. Lisa developed "The TENER Method for Creative Flow" and has won 7 prestigious business awards, including the Silver Stevie Award for Coach/Mentor of the Year. Lisa Tener's clients have received 5- and 6-figure book deals from a large variety of publishers from Random House and Hachette to niche and university publishers. Her clients' books have been featured by Oprah, on NPR, the Today Show, Good Morning America and all over the national media, including the New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Women's Health, Forbes and much more.