The lovely and talented writer Carrie Mumford recently wrote a blog about journaling (http://www.carriemumford.com/why-i-stopped-journaling/) that got me thinking about the craft of writing and how it requires so much more than flashes of inspiration.
When I was in elementary school, I tried to write in a journal every night. The entries went something like this: “Dear Diary, today my crush pulled my hair in class. I think he likes me! I like him sooo much.” Or, “Dear Diary, my little sister is so annoying sometimes! She embarrassed me so much in front of my super cool friends today.”
I know, it’s the stuff of literary genius, truly. After three journals, I gave up because I just couldn’t be bothered to write on a regular basis. As I got older though, I found that I would have moments where I felt utterly compelled to put my thoughts to paper – usually to sort through a big decision, cope with a hard time, or record a brilliant (?) “aha moment.”
Writing is a huge part of my life now, but I find that the hardest aspect of writing content that you actually want to share with the world is the discipline it requires. Because I used to write only when I felt inspired, forcing myself to write when I’m not can sometimes feel like a monumental task.
The authors I work with continue to inspire me with their dedication to their work. Sometimes, no matter how much you would rather be hanging out with your “super cool friends,” you have to lay down the law with yourself.
The following are five ways to help push through a lack of inspiration and just get writing:
1. Bribe yourself. I’m way more likely to sit down at my desk and write if I first make myself a vanilla latte and turn on some jazz music. Create an appealing environment to write in.
2. Routine, routine, routine. I may write about freelancing to freedom, but routine can be absolutely necessary. Whether it’s 15 minutes every Monday morning or 5 hours a day for 5 days a week, dedicate a specific chunk of time to writing on a regular basis and don’t let anything disrupt it.
3. Write without a filter. Turning off my “editor brain” is probably my biggest challenge when I’m writing, but it’s impossible to produce anything if you’re constantly evaluating what you’re producing. Write, then edit.
4. Try writing exercises to open up your creativity. Here’s one of my favourites: write down twenty or thirty words on individual pieces of paper and put them in a hat. Then pick out two words, set a timer for ten minutes, and write about the connection between the two words – the more outlandish the better. You might be amazed at what your brain comes up with when forced to think outside the box.
5. Smile, take a deep breath, and remember all the reasons why you like to write in the first place. Did you love making up stories when you were young? See if you can get back to a place of childlike enthusiasm.
Writing can be very hard work, but in the end, it’s a craft that requires passion.
Song of the Week: “Idle Moments” – Grant Green