As someone who always loved to write, studying creative writing seemed obvious. Doing so was developing in many ways, but to me, the most important thing was the realization that you can’t sit around and wait for inspiration. That way, you will never become a person who writes, but will continue to be someone who dreams of becoming one. Inspiration falls into your lap a couple of times a year, which is far too rare to be able to take your writing to a new level.
The harsh truth? You don’t need inspiration. You just have to write.
Sounds tough? Here are 3 things that help me when writing is difficult:
This is an exercise I was introduced to during the above mentioned writing course, and fell in love with immediately. It’s very simple – you write continuously for a set time, for example 5-10 minutes. During that time, you cannot stop writing, nor correct what you’ve written. It doesn’t matter if you misspell, or if what you write is nonsense or incoherent. Many times, I’ve written: “I have nothing to write, I have nothing to write, I have nothing to write.” It doesn’t matter. Just continue writing.
The point of the exercise is to get over whatever obstacles you have inside of you, that prevent you from writing. Think of it as warm-up before you run a race; it helps you get ready before your actual performance. When a new, empty document feels overwhelming, freewriting becomes a playful way to tackle it. This makes it the perfect exercise for overcoming writer’s block.
2. Create a routine
Routines are easier to fantasize than to implement. I know.
We’ve all had the image of how to become the perfect person who always lives healthy, takes care of their relationships, works hard but not too much, is extremely fashion conscious, has a fantastic home and at the same time is a lovely person. Have we ever achieved that image? Probably not.
On the other hand, everyone – including yourself – has succeeded in reaching where they want to be within one or maybe two of those areas. Why? Because you’ve prioritized them and decided that “regardless of whether I have a messy home, I’ll make sure to go to the gym 3 times a week”. You’ve simply decided that your workouts are more important than removing the dust in your hallway.
You must do the same thing for your writing. You have to take it so seriously that it gets to take up a place in your life that something else may have at the moment. Give writing the chance to become a part of your routine by prioritizing it.
How that routine looks like depends on your life in general. Do you want to write an hour before bedtime? Start weekend mornings by always writing 3 pages? Or maybe it’s enough for you with 10 minutes of freewriting each day? It’s not important. The important thing is that you’re satisfied with your writing routine, and that you dare to take it seriously.
3. Set a deadline
Few people can handle being their own bosses. Writing continuously for fun, or maybe because you dream of a book contract, means you have to be your own boss. This also means that you have to feel a responsibility towards yourself, in order to actually accomplish what you’ve decided you should do.
Just as with my deadline for this article, we all know the magic that time pressure can create. Suddenly, it seems that a deadline is an endless source of inspiration. That in itself indicates that inspiration is not something you wait for, but create yourself. It also shows how well deadlines actually work.
Set deadlines for yourself, and tell others about them. That way, you probably feel more pressure to actually do what you said you should. It may be that you should’ve written 10 pages, a chapter or maybe a short story by a certain date. The important thing is that you view your deadline in the same way as if it was a submission at school, or a task your boss gave you. It should be kept! No excuses!
Finally, if you are a person who just wants to write when the spirit falls on, do it. Of course! Not everyone needs to become a great writer, or even work with writing. Sometimes, it’s just as wonderful to dream about something, as it is to it.
Just remember, if you actually want to write on a regular – just do it.