By Lesley Vos
Once upon a time, someone somewhere told people they couldn’t be creative writers if didn’t have particular genes or characteristics of brains.
Gone are those days when we believed those yucks.
Writers have learned to unlock and develop creativity with particular daily routine and lifestyle. Positive thinking, mindfulness, tons of writing techniques, and even drinking a coffee work on us, modern age’s children striving for work-life balance. Great minds agree on the direct linking between beneficial habits and their influence on writing productivity.
But the question remains there still:
Which of those habits are beneficial to our creativity? Doesn’t it happen that some are sly griefers poisoning our genius in its germ and preventing us from profitable writing life?
Yes, it does.
So let’s kill those blood-suckers right here, right now.
Habit #1: Waiting for the right time
It took me three years to pitch a post idea to this stellar blog.
Sounds crazy, but that were petty intrigues of my habit to wait for the right time: thoughts on my poor skills and superficial content ideas demotivated and prevented me from writing.
And you know what?
While I was waiting, others expressed my ideas right here.
Defeat this habit of yours because the right moment for writing is now. Give a voice to your ideas by writing them down once they take shape in your mind. Even if faint first, they will work on your creative writing afterward.
Fear is the top reason of writing blocks.
Some call it a blank page syndrome aka inspiration lack, others insist it’s emotional burnout or even depression, but there is no escaping the fact:
It’s just the fear of creating crap!
We don’t want to admit mistakes, but let’s face it: some writers postpone a creative process because they are afraid of criticism or rejection. More than that, they are afraid of writing something that will be considered a copy or plagiarism!
And that was another case of mine, too, which had disappeared thanks to the ‘let’s get rejected’ mantra from Aaron Orendorff.
You are welcome to try it, or follow these steps to get rid of the fear:
- Accept it as an inevitable part of the process.
- Get to its roots, and list alternative thoughts to feed your creative genius.
- Compare them and emphasize on pros and cons of each.
- Act to the benefit of appropriate ones.
- Even if failed, consider contrary ideas for more creative final results.
To beat your fear of failure, fight the tiger: develop a habit of writing daily and post your texts to social media. Depending on readers’ feedback, you’ll see what you could learn about your writing to improve it.
Habit #3: Perfectionism
As Anne Lamott wrote in her Bird by Bird, “perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people.”
Intuitively, you understand that it’s restrictive. You realize that ‘perfect’ and ‘creative’ are antonyms. And yet, you continue striving for perfection in writing:
You edit it ruthlessly, erase its unique voice, and suck the last breath out of your creative mind’s lungs.
Don’t be like that!
- Instead of perfectionism, embrace a philosophy of pragmatism: rather than fighting to the last drop of blood for unattainable, take what you can get.
- Change your lifestyle accordingly. That’s about distinguishing between realistic and unrealistic goals: while sitting and waiting for a perfect writing idea, you miss a lot of writing opportunities.
- Make friends with the Pareto principle saying that “80% of the results are coming from 20% of the effort.”
- Stop confusing perfection with excellence: yes, you can strive to improve your writing skills, but perfection is just an illusion preventing you from actions.
Forget the question “Is my writing perfect?” Make it a habit to ask “What’s in there for my readers?” instead.
Habit #4: Comparing yourself to other writers
Writers read a lot. They analyze writing styles of favorite authors to mirror them; and it can be an efficient technique to use for polishing own writing skills and developing own voice and tone.
But comparing yourself to those authors is not so efficient for enhancing your creativity.
First, it evokes the feeling a-la “I’m not good enough,” leading to nothing but plagiarizing from creative geniuses.
Second, it might lead to the above-mentioned fear of failure and criticism.
And third, it ends with demotivation, stress, and depression because there will always be those writing better, publishing more, and getting more readers as well as boffo reviews.
It doesn’t mean you should ignore the experience of famous writers. Learn from them, follow their steps, analyze language structures and speech patterns they use, and adopt the best of their knowledge.
But don’t copy them.
Accept the fact you are different, which doesn’t equal worse. You need own standards of creativity and success, so develop them for your writing genius to flourish.
Habit #5: Killing creativity in its germ
Some writers don’t consider themselves creative, and your humble narrator is among them.
However, I’ve come to the realization that negative thoughts damage creativity, killing it root and branch. Never think of your creative genius as something faint and itsy-bitsy.
Want to see if you’re creative?
Address neuroscientist Nancy Andreasen who has been studying the creative mind for decades. She defines creatives as those who:
- are not afraid of changes;
- work hard because love what they do;
- can find inspiration in stress and deadlines;
- take risks to explore new frontiers;
- are persistent;
- strongly believe in their work, doing it for things other than money.
So even if your writing ideas differ from others’, that doesn’t mean others are more creative than you.
Another point to consider:
Some authors believe they aren’t creative when they can’t craft texts and tell stories at the click of a button.
Don’t let the habit of easy writing capture you. Professionals know that writing is hard work, but it’s worth it.
After all, we write for people. Isn’t that the reason for smashing all fears and being who we are, creative writers?
It’s your turn now:
What habits did you forget or, quite the opposite, develop to make friends with your creative genius and start writing better? Do you believe that lifestyle can influence our creative minds? Share your thoughts in comments.
About the author:
Lesley J. Vos is a professional web writer currently blogging for PlagiarismCheck.org, a website struggling with plagiarism in academic writing. See more works of hers on Twitter @LesleyVos.
These are good rules for life as well as writing!
I have the bad habit of waiting till everything is perfect for me to write. Which apparently meant never. I’ve finally gotten where I look at my works regularly now. I don’t necessarily write every day, but I do get myself going over them because that what helps inspire me to write what will happen next. And yes it’s really hard to keep from comparing myself to others who seem to be able to write better and easier than I can. But we can only keep striving forward and do what makes us happy and is our style, not someone else’s.
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Different and difficult to understand, and rather insulting.
Sent from my iPad
It’s time I read Bird by Bird. Thank you.