Just write. This was the phrase I chose one year as my inspiration. I often choose a word or a phrase each year as a motivational tool to help keep me on track. Looking back, ‘just write’ is one of the simplest and most straight forward, yet it has had, perhaps, the most lasting impact. It feels as relevant going into 2018 as it was back in 2013 when I pinned it to my bulletin board.
This month’s prompt asked, “How do dark times enhance our writing?” I’m sure I blinked, not quite sure I understood the question. I felt stumped. I felt stymied. I felt ill equipped to write on this topic.
Ah yes, celebrations. Don’t we love them? Confetti, balloons, music and dancing, eating and drinking, all because we met a deadline or finished a manuscript. Maybe we even got the final edit over with and the actual book is delivered to our front door. Ah, yes; celebration indeed.
I have noticed that I do more creative writing in the summer than at any other time of the year. By looking at the reasons, maybe I can learn from my motivations and apply them to the winter months to increase my writing.
The New Year is rapidly approaching and many of us will soon be setting our goals (aka resolutions) for 2016. Where is writing on your list? If you are reading this post, it’s likely close to the top.
Here are a dozen writing and writing-related goals you may want to include and tips on how to do so:
1. Be on the lookout for inspiration.
Some people record ideas, snippets of conversation, random words and phrases, etc. in a notebook or on their electronic device. Make it a habit to do so. Don’t simply trust your memory; it’s amazing how quickly “that perfect idea” can vanish.
A bheil Gàdhlig agaibh? (Do you speak Scottish Gaelic?)
I don’t imagine I’ll even be able to honestly answer, “Tha, beagan” (yes, a little), though when this post goes live, I will have just returned from two weeks across the Pond, where my son will have been married on the shores of Loch Earn, north of Glasgow.
I grew up riding horses. The rule was, if you fell off, you had to get back on again or you’d spoil the horse. Practical reasoning, uncomfortable application. And yet, to this day I love horses.
This summer has been filled to the brim with family visits from England, British Columbia, and Japan, as well as more local folks, who all appreciate lots of good food, freshly made beds, and a relatively tidy place to congregate. With all the hospitality required for these gatherings, I have royally fallen off my writing horse.
“Back in the saddle” refers to a cowboy who returned to work after recovering from an injury. Gene Autry’s song made it a household phrase. Unfortunately, it also means the back part of a chicken, the part nearest its tail. Now I’m not saying that writer’s block turns us into chicken-livered, yellow-belly, word avoiders, but . . .
Ever thought about a long distance writing relationship? Like the old adage, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” I wonder if some major distance from writing would make the pen grow stronger?
According to a study in the Journal of Communication, (August 8, 2013, Molly Vorweck, USA Today, usatoday.com) long distance relationships were found to have more intimacy and depth than couples that saw each other on a daily basis.
One of the psychologists who authored the study, Crystal Jiang of the City University of Hong Kong, suggested that because long distance relationships have limited face-to-face interactions, they maximize the time they do have together by cutting some of the chitchat and diving straight to the heart of the matter. “In an effort to keep the romance alive, couples will . . . discuss deeper issues such as love, trust, and future plans . . . they also adapt their messages, for example, by focusing on more limited but relationally intense topics.” Though they have no physical contact, they do grow close psychologically.
If you are struggling with a project, consider a long distance relationship, where you would limit the amount of time you spend with it. Or, if you are getting along well with your current pieces but want to add another, you could try starting a time-and-space-limited piece.
Does a writer’s waking time impact their creativity? This is a question worth asking, as the amount and quality of sleep have obvious effects upon our alertness and ability to concentrate, two skills that we all need.
Maria Popova, a Bulgarian writer, blogger, and critic from New York, asked this same question. She is known for her blog BrainPickings.org, which features her writing on culture, books, and eclectic subjects.