Four things that will trigger your imagination.

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If you’re feeling boxed in by your own productivity, if you feel you’ve reached a creative plateau, or if you just want to use more imagination in your life, read on.

Your imagination is driven by the right side of your brain. To get it going for you, give the right side of your brain more opportunities to do what it loves to do.

Think of it this way: your imagination is an amazing dancer. She’s been training all her life to take the stage and blow you away with her moves. She would love to perform, and she’s waiting for your invitation. 

How can you show her that you value her talent? That you want to see her take the stage?

Make time for her performance. Give her the space to dance.

Here are four ways to trigger your imagination and get out of a creative plateau:

1. Pause and take note of your internal energy. We cannot feel creative when we feel anxious. A calm mind is a curious, imaginative mind.

Many writers have active minds, attuned to problem-solving and pattern-making. When we add unresolved life stress, anxiety about world events, and a full to-do list with unreasonable deadlines, our minds can go into overdrive. 

Listen to my Clarity Meditation for Writers, a 15-minute audio recording that helps you relax as you reset. You’ll use your active imagination to visualize your nervous system clearing, and you’ll emerge feeling focused, energized, and with a fresh perspective.

2. Instead of working on your projects right away, start your day practicing imaginative productivity. This kind of productivity is effortless, but it requires you to change the gaze of your mind. You know those drawings where you can see one image in the drawing, but when you look another way, a second image emerges from the negative space? It feels kind of like that.

Imaginative productivity needs you to shift your mind into receptivity. This is about noticing, looking, hearing, touching, and tasting. It’s about asking questions that take you outside the boundaries you’ve created in your thinking.

Do this by allowing yourself to feel curious about something you haven’t noticed before, and give your imagination time to notice it. 

Here is a simple, brief writing practice that brings you into receptivity. You can do this in a few minutes in the morning. Here is another one.

3. Take in other forms of art. Art disrupts pattern, finds new, unusual connections, offers the gift of surprise, and short-circuits our habitual thought patterns. In other words, art gives our consciousness back to us.


  • Go to a concert. How does harmony and rhythm show up in your sentences?

  • See a play. Pay attention to the stage lighting. How would you write your scenes if you were a lighting director?

  • Look at sculpture. What can it show you about your book’s structure, balance, density and form?

  • Watch dance. How does movement in the body create emotion? 

If you want to wake up your imagination, look to another genre. Seeing other kinds of artists at work will remind you why you are writing, and teach you new ways to do it.

4. Make a change in your physical surroundings, or add a new physical sensation to your regular routine. The key here is to create a new experience for your body. Your mind and your body are not separate. If you want to have a new mental experience, don’t start by thinking — start by moving. 

When your body encounters something new, it has to adapt to understand it. Your cells, skin, ears, muscles, bones all work together with a symphony of hormones as they adapt to new experiences. This adaptation creates a little biochemistry cocktail that will activate your imaginative mind. 


  • Move the furniture around in your space. 

  • Give your hands something to play with at your desk: a squishy ball, a helium-filled balloon, or juggling bags.

  • Try a new form of movement — yoga, hula hoop, trapeze, forest running.

Your brain creates new neural pathways as your body encounters unfamiliar activities, and this literally gives you a new perspective. 

The thing about triggering your imagination is that the results aren’t going to be guessable or prescriptive. This is creative exploration. Something unpredictable will happen. Don’t try to guess what that will be. 

As you purposefully use more imagination in your daily life, you will begin to integrate these new modes of thinking and being. 

Notice what happens to your writing as a result.


Photo credit (top): Umberto on Unsplash.

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1 comment

Kathy Martens

Love this. Love the resources (thank you!). Especially ❤️: “If you want to have a new mental experience, don’t start by thinking — start by moving.” YesYesYes!  

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