When I was in grad school, people were very big into Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. So much so, that it made a little resistant to it. I am of the belief that the more people gush about something, the less likely I am to enjoy it (mainly because nothing, however good, lives up to the gushing, but I am not a gusher). I liked a lot of the people who were recommending it, so I gave it a shot. As I had been warned, it was a little touchy-feely, but nothing that I couldn’t handle. There were a lot of useful exercises, but the one that has stayed with me to the day is the concept of “Morning Pages.” In essence, first thing in the morning you write 3 pages of anything that pops into your head.
Even if you only write about how annoyed you are at the train, or how many bills you have (not that I know anything about this subject matter) the point is to get the little irritating ideas out of your head, so that the good, important things can start to come out. I’ve been doing it daily for well over 10 years now, and I find it very helpful. Often I will worry on the page about where an project is going, and suddenly I have given my self a solution, just by getting it out.
Meanwhile, a whole Artist’s Way empire has risen. There are seminars, special notebooks you can buy for morning pages (I use composition notebooks, because they are super cheap) and all manner of ways to get your money. You can get the book out of the library and use the back side of printouts you don’t need anymore, and it works just as well.