Sometimes our routines and practises can start to feel a little stale, a little uninspiring, or a little same hat.
It is easy to become overwhelmed when you first start writing because there is so much to learn about craft, the publishing industry (traditional and indie), and marketing. The volume of information out there for you to consume is tremendous: writing advice blogs, online courses, membership communities, podcasts, digital tutorials, etc.
You’re incredibly aware of your own ignorance, but you’re also excited by the challenge of stretching your abilities and the novelty of doing something new.
Over time, you figure out a writing routine and you develop enough confidence to commit to a writing project whether that be a short story, a collection, novella, novel or screen play.
Your confidence grows as you start to get articles and short stories published; maybe you start your own blog, finish your book, and get it published.
The years roll on and soon you begin to see yourself as a true craftsman.
Now, feeling comfortable with your craft is one thing, but what do you do when your practise starts to feel stale? How do you continue to keep the love for your art alive when deadlines, rather than inspiration, become your motivation?
How do you reanimate the form of your creative practise?
How do you make writing fun again?
It’s common for a writer to perform some kind of ritual before they start writing. Maybe they cast a prayer out to the muse, take a couple of deep breaths, or spend some time re-reading their prose from the day before.
If your writing desk feels just as oppressive as an office cubical, then I urge you to inject a sense of play back into your writing.
Before clicking open your word document, take 15 minutes to write something for fun. Write a tiny piece of flash fiction, a poem, or you can dedicate this time to another writing project that you have no intention of publishing!
Remember: You started writing because it was fun; because you got something out of it emotionally, whether that was a sense of joy, pride, or intellectual stimulation – whatever!
Reintroducing that sense of play back into your creative practise is the best way to remind yourself that you are creating art – not saving lives. (Though, sometimes art does save lives).
It’s also a good way to ‘pay yourself first.’
Take the time to make art for yourself before you make it for someone else.
Have you read Julie Cameron’s beloved book The Artist’s Way? If so, then you’re already familiar with her concept of an artist’s date and you can probably skip ahead to the next section – just as long as you promise to take action on Cameron’s brilliant advice!
Now, an artist’s date is not when two broke people go out for Italian hoping the other one will pay; an artist’s date is when you take yourself out (solo) and do a real world activity that will either replenish your creative well, inform your current project, or provide inspiration.
The idea of an artist date is that you carve out some time, once a week, to do something ‘enchanting.’ This activity should be fun, playful, and nourishing.
Here’s some examples to get you inspired:
- An afternoon out spent taking photographs of anything that inspired you.
- Taking a class (art, sewing, writing, language, pottery).
- Going to a museum or art gallery (especially if there is a cool exhibition on).
- Seeing a play or musical.
- Being a tourist in your own town (exploring unfamiliar suburbs, parks, etc.).
- Going on a short road trip.
Note: an artist’s date doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘artistic’, just do whatever activity excites you!
Read Books & Author Interviews
Okay, I know this suggest seems beyond basic, but one of the best way to become excited about writing again is to read.
Yes, you can increase the amount of time you spend reading generally, but I specifically recommend taking 10-20 minutes each morning to read something that makes you feel inspired or moved in someway.
What inspires one person may not necessarily inspire another, and what inspired you one day may fall flat the next, so feel free to mess around.
Read a few pages from a familiar book by an author you wish to emulate, or complete a challenge in a writing advice book such as Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones or Wild Mind. You may prefer to read a few poems, or a few pages from a memoir you find especially inspiring.
On that note, listening, watching, or reading authors interviews can be an endless source of inspiration as well. Hearing other writers speak about their process, their work, and their motivations for writing is one of the best way to resuscitate a dying creative practise.
Like any relationship, we need to put mindful effort into our writing in order to keep it alive, interesting, and rewarding.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. What do you do to keep writing interesting? How do you keep your creative spark sparkly when the daily grind starts to feel especially grindy? Leave your comment below!
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