Escape Into your Art: Seven Ways to Get Out of Your Own Way #5

I’ve decided to syndicate my ebook Overcome Writer’s Block: 10 Writing Sparks to Jumpstart Your Creativity on my blog, Writer’s Fun Zone, over the next 10 weeks. You can read the whole book here over the next 10 weeks, or buy the entire ebook at KindleSmashwords, and at other ebook vendors.

** Enjoy Spark Five! And Happy Writing!**

Spark Five: Escape Into your Art: Seven Ways to Get Out of Your Own Way

 “When we are self-conscious, we cannot be wholly aware; we must throw ourselves out first. The throwing ourselves away is the act of creativity. So, when we wholly concentrate, like a child in play, or an artist at work, then we share in the act of creating. We not only escape time, we also escape our self-conscious selves.”
A Circle of Quiet: The Crosswicks JournalBook 1 by Madeleine L’Engle

We must take action to create our art. We must play at it, as a child approaches playing. I love this Madeleine L’Engle quote, and want to share with you how we can escape into our art. How to open the door into the sumptuous world of our own creativity.

I’m assuming you know what your art is, that you know how you want to apply your creative energies, but you feel stymied in some way. If you don’t know what your creative art is, then I suggest you “Remember and Identify” it. You could also read about Spark Seven: The Passion for Writing. (Coming soon! Or you can read it directly in Overcome Writer’s Block here.)

What was your favorite game or pastime as a child? Think back to how you spent your time. For example, I loved playing Olly Olly Oxen Free, a complex version of hide-and-go-seek, with friends and siblings. We loved playing Capture the Flag, exploring the nearby wine grape vineyards, and playing in abandoned fields full of burrs and blackberry brambles. I also loved curling up with a good adventure story, like Misty of Chincoteague or The Lost Prince.

Time to take action. Any action will do. Okay, almost any. If you need more clear direction, then below are six ways to get out of your own way. Do one, or do them all. The point here is to get out of your own way and create in a place of love, enjoyment and play.

Way #1 of Getting Out of Your Own Way — Play

With reading, I loved, and still love, diving into another world, so completely different from my own, and coming out of the story refreshed and so in love with that other place, it makes this place, my own place, stand out as foreign, and intriguing. I’m always on an adventure and this I love.

What did you love about the games you played? Dig beneath the pleasure and describe its elements.

Way #2 of Getting Out of Your Own Way — Identify

I’m in love with my current piece of fiction: its characters, setting, and problems. I can’t wait to return to that world so that I can sit in the angst of the problems I’ve created and move my characters to some kind of resolution. I love that exploration. Because although I know where I want my characters to go, I don’t know exactly how they will travel there, or if they will really succeed in their missions.

Identify the thing you love about your writing, your art. Identify it and allow yourself to sink your teeth into it.

As Madeleine L’Engle, says, “We must throw ourselves out first,” and become our art creating itself.

Way #3 of Getting Out of Your Own Way — Time Limits

Set the timer for 20 minutes. (More or less is fine, though I’ve found 20 minutes to be optimal for writing.) Write about all the reasons why you can’t write. If you find yourself writing about other things, great. The point is to move pen across page without stopping until the buzzer rings. Or, write about what you want your writing project to really be like.

Way #4 of Getting Out of Your Own Way — Tracking

You are ready to work. The computer is on, or notebook and pen or pencil in hand. Now it’s time to note your starting time, page number and starting word count. A spreadsheet can help you just do that, a tracking sheet that helps you, well, track. Not just what you’ve done and for how long, it tracks that you’ve done it! Breathe! Congratulations! Showing up and following through on your creating is what’s it’s all about.

Way #5 of Getting Out of Your Own Way — MAP

As leadership trainer and friend, Greg Norte, taught me, a MAP is a Major Accountability Partner. Maybe this person is a life partner, a business partner, colleague or creativity buddy. Call them at the start and at the finish to report in, celebrate your successes and shore up any challenges. Weekly is best. I have MAPs in all areas of my life. Go team!

Way #6 of Getting Out of Your Own Way — List of Twenty

This is one of my favorite exercises, appealing to both the left and right–brainers out there. This exercise can be used for any kind of creative project, and yes, of course, writing. It’s great, in fact, for story and idea generation in any area. There are five steps to implementing this simple yet powerful tool.

Step One: Set your intention for the list. In other words, decide what you’re going to use the list for. For example, you could decide to list out twenty possible plot ideas, terrible scenarios for your hapless characters to fall into, or twenty ideas associated with a big lifestyle change. Or the question “What do I really want with this creative project?”

Step Two: Get ready! Number your page down the left hand side, 1-20.

Step Three: Get set! Know that you will list twenty items, even if you repeat yourself, even if it doesn’t make sense what you write.

Step Four: Go! Write your list of twenty. Don’t stop until you’ve reached the end.

Step Five: Read your list with amusement and neutrality, then congratulate yourself. You did it. If you are so inspired, pick one item and work on it right now.

Way #7 of Getting Out of Your Own Way – Fieldtrip

When I need inspiration, and something to jolt me into action, I take a little field trip down the hill to my neighborhood, Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, CA. Like today, I took a fieldtrip to one of my favorite coffee shops, Peets’ Coffee, sat in the little plaza and enjoyed the mural, and the passersby while I wrote. Then went to that wonderful resource, the public library, and popped into a fun new store in the neighborhood, Issues, with their wacky and wonderful magazines and newspapers from around the world.

Where can you go to mix things up, get inspiration, spur yourself to action, feed your fire? It may only be a seven-and-a-half minute walk away.

Great! Hopefully by now you have been inspired to action, to choose one or a few or all of the above exercises to help you “wholly concentrate” and “share in the act of creating” with your art, and to lovingly and kindly get the hell out of your own way.

Go be creative! Go Play!


You can buy the whole 10 Sparks on the KindleSmashwords, and at other ebook vendors.


Bestselling Author’s CoachBeth Barany is dedicated to the notion that all is better with play.

An author too, she’s the author of the 2011 award-winning young adult fantasy novel Henrietta The Dragon Slayer, as well as of the bestselling nonfiction books for authors and aspiring authors.

Beth gives away 10 spots per month for a 60-Minute Complimentary Coaching Session. First Come First Serve! Schedule yours today! Click here now to schedule yours: Beth’s Online Scheduler

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  • The fieldtrip advice really works for me. In fact, sometimes just taking my laptop or notebook to a coffee shop or the library and working there for a morning can really get the creative juices flowing. It seems to happen most often in winter when I get a case of cabin fever.

  • Beth Barany says:

    Andrea, Great! Cafes are one of my favorite places to go to get my writing mojo going. I get to people watch, be in a totally new environment without all the home mess, and I get to stare out the window. Love that last part!

  • I love #5, Major Accountability Partner. I make commitments on a weekly basis with my coach and my Mastermind buddy, and I also do this on Integrity Days. I’ll block out a day or 1/2 day and call my MAP on the hour to report in what I accomplished and what I will accomplish in the next hour. So powerful.

    Scott D
    Scott D Lewis
    Cornerstones Coaching & Consulting

    Sign up for my free email mini-course:
    Seven Surprising Strategies to Get More Stuff Done

  • Stopping by from List-a-Palooza – I like your List of Twenty idea, Beth … that should be enough ideas to break open any writer’s block! I also do a lot of field trips. In nicer times of year (when it’s not 104º), I like to take a notebook and go work in the park. Amazing how I can be so much more productive once I get outside my office!

    Marlys Arnold
    Exhibit Marketing Strategist
    Author, Build a Better Trade Show Image
    Host, Trade Show Insights blog-cast

  • Beth Barany says:

    Scott, What a great idea!

    Marlys, I know — that List of 20 is gold. I know another Creativity Expert who also recommends a list of 60!


    Beth Barany | Author, Speaker & Creative Consultant for Authors & Publishers
    Oakland, CA

    *Editor for the Author Entrepreneur Magazine, download the latest issue here: Yep! It’s free! Please share with your friends and colleagues!

  • Great post. I personally have no trouble bringing forth my art. In fact, I write so much I often lose track of time and even what day it is sometimes. I love all the various ways you have offered to help people who do need help with it. These are all certainly wonderful things one can do if stuck without creativity flowing the way they want. Thanks again.

    D. Takara Shelor
    Forchianna L.L.C.

    Get 2 free ebooks:
    Dancing With Dolphins & Life Works When You Are Happy, It Sucks When You Are Not

  • Rikk Hansen says:

    This is simply a fabulous post Beth!

    Fun, inspiring and practical all in woven together. And I love the Madeleine L’Engle quote! Writing is not my primary art though I love the creative process in all it’s forms.

    I can see how your “7 Ways” would be useful for nourishing creativity of all kinds!



    Rikk Hansen
    Founder, Brilliant NEXT

    Kindling Your Next LifeWork ~ to Blaze with Purpose & Passion!
    Career Renewal Special Report:

  • Jody Maley says:

    I love and have personally used ‘setting the timer for 20 mins’!
    Whether its writing on my current book (due out soon) or writing for my e-zine or blog, just sitting down, putting on the timer and HEARTFELT writing has moved me forward!
    LOVE LOVE LOVE go girl!
    Jody Maley
    Owner HomePartyPlan
    Get your 5 Mistakes in your Home Business Here

  • Great work. I have been considering writing several books over the years, and really have one or two I want to write right now, but haven’t moved. Your 7 points brings the steps closer to being done. Now, how do I overcome the fear of rejection or failure in what I write?

  • Great List, Beth! I can especially see using the “list of 20” for inspiration, since I’m a big listmaker. Just yesterday I was trying to brainstorm some program names, but I never stick it out until I have 20. Way to push yourself!

    Lisa Braithwaite, Public Speaking Coach and Trainer
    Get my free e-book “101 Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking”

  • Hi Beth!

    As a writing procrastinator I am printing this out and taping it to my bathroom mirror:)

    Great tips!


    Amanda Maynard
    Inner Guidance Coach/Spiritual Mentor
    Grab your copy of “Keys to Getting Unstuck and Connecting with Spirit!”

  • Cheryl says:

    Wonderful post Beth! The list of 20 and fieldtrip are great tips!

  • Beth Barany says:

    Rikk, Thanks!

    Brad, Thanks! Regarding how you now overcome the fear of rejection or failure in what you write, I’d be happy to talk with you about that. And one way I deal with this (and I’m in the middle of writing a book so I’m dealing with it now) is I think about the benefits to my readers and focus on that.

    Lisa, The List of 20 is to see what is deeper in the subconscious and a way to stretch further! Hope your brainstorming for some program names was successful.

    Amanda, Oh wonderful! So glad that you are printing this out and taping it to your bathroom mirror:) Let me know how it goes!

    Cheryl, Thanks for stopping by! Glad you like the list of 20 and the fieldtrip tips! My favs too!

  • Here from List-a-Palooza, Beth – it’s great to meet a fellow writer. I love the timer-setting suggestion. I have a bad habit of getting distracted by anything and everything if I think I have unlimited time – so putting boundaries around my writing session can really help sometimes!



  • Lorii Abela says:

    Great tips and suggestions, Beth. Thanks for the list.

  • Beth Barany says:

    Tanja, Hope the timed writing works for you. I too get so distracted. hence, why I developed this tool: it was for me! Blessings!

    Lorii, You’re welcome for the list. Enjoy!

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