Creativity and writing is a sacred process that requires a supportive mindset. I’d love to share what I have learned to support and encourage your creativity and writing. I never imagined I could write a book until I did and these are some of the things that helped me.
1. The Idea Chose YOU for a Reason Culture teaches us ideas can be owned, that they belong to us, or to whoever publishes them first. Trust your deep desire, toss out the culturally implanted doubts – this has already been written about, someone can do it better than me, etc. Thoughts like this can kill your inspiration. Don’t let them. Ideas (see Elizabeth Gilbert Big Magic) have a life of their own. They are Divinely inspired.
If an idea landed in your inbox, there is a reason you were chosen. Before you say no, (and of course you have permission to do so), you may want to think long and hard. Don’t assume you are not the right person for this. Remember, you were chosen! In addition, you will have something unique to say about this subject, which so it really doesn’t matter if it was done before.
2. Make a Commitment YOU Can Keep It is common for us to over commit, especially in the throes of inspiration. We feel excited and raring to go when the idea lands, but then when it comes time to actually sit down and write, excitement fades into the overwhelming reality of the work involved. Here are a few things that can stall your commitment and how you can work with them:
Perfection (editing too soon) - ignore the temptation to edit right away. Just write, edit later
Resistance (stalling the start) – resistance is the guardian at the gate testing you and feels bigger that it is. Just sit down and write. Resistance is normal and over-comable.
Pressure (overachievement goals) – write in doable chunks for you. You and your life are different than everyone else. I wrote my first book in 5 pages per week, I know I could commit to that. There is nothing like too much pressure to create writers block.
If your initial commitment doesn’t work, change it. You learn as you go. It’s all an experiment anyway. There is no right or wrong here, especially if you are writing for you (and not some publication that has a firm deadline).
3. Be Persistent The secret about accomplishing your writing project is persistence, which means showing up over and over again, even when it’s not comfortable (this is a good principle to keep in mind for ANY endeavor). We get fooled into thinking the first moments of inspiration are enough to sustain a project or we can fall into the trap of thinking if it doesn’t automatically flow all the time, we are not meant to be a writer.
The initial inspiration is just the spark. We stoke the spark into a flame with persistence. It may stutter sometimes and flow others. You don’t have to lose sleep over it, or even write every day, or perform like the “real” writers you heard about. You just have to perform like you and be tenacious about it.
There are many “systems” out there for writing. I suggest you take what works for you and drop the rest. Someone else’s system is never going to completely match your make up or your lifestyle. When we try system that doesn’t work for us, we can convince ourselves we are just not a “writer”, or we are uniquely challenged or just plain lazy. Hogwash!
Go back to tip number one – this project landed in your inbox for a reason, you would not have been chosen if you were not capable. Be persistent about finding your own method. And experiment with systems, which brings me to the next point.
4. Approach With a Learning Mindset All creative endeavors come with a process of learning. The purpose of experimentation is to explore possibilities. Sometimes our experiments don’t work and sometimes they do and the point is we learn and grow. The Universe loves experiments. Look at all the weird and wonderful creatures and life on this planet. It shows you the amazing beauty of experiments.
Be curious. Curiosity is food for creatives. Be curious about your process, be curious about stray thoughts, be curious about your emotions (this is also a great practice for writing compelling stories) be curious about “mistakes.” Try new things.
Remember, skill takes time, learning and experimenting to build. If you are less skilled now, or just starting out, and you continue to follow tips 2 and 3, the skill will come. Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking that only “specially gifted” folks can be artists and writers. More hogwash!
How I Applied These Mindsets When I wrote my novel, The Curious Magic of Buckeye Groves, I was working full time in a job. Therefore, I made a simple commitment I knew I could sustain, which was to write five pages every week. The result - I often wrote much more than five pages, but I wrote at least five pages and I didn’t edit them as I was writing. If I felt resistance, I plowed through it.
I felt good about sticking to my commitment and that created ongoing momentum. I could see progress happening each and every week. I connected with the spirit of the story that wanted to be told, that was my ritual.
Now I am getting ready to publish my second book. I learned a lot writing the first one, and writing this one was different. I was more seasoned and the circumstances in my life were different so I adjusted my commitment and expectations.
I love my second book, as I love my first. It's so satisfying to love your co-creation!
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