To me, it seems that the number one underlying issue writers must face is the unpredictability of creative energy.
You can call it a lacking touch of the muse, artistic no-man’s land, a mental prison of self-doubt, resistance…or any other name that has been given to the invisible force that has tormented creatives (and especially writers) since the dawn of time.
So, how do we overcome this invisible force, unblock our creative energy and churn out work of reasonable quality on demand (because let’s face it: we can all write crap on demand)?
Top Tip #1:
Fill your creative bank account. I came across this idea by accident when I was aimlessly browsing YouTube and found the channel of full-time comic artist Jake Parker. The idea is this: treat your creativity like a bank account. In order to make a withdrawal, you have to have to have a positive balance first. Don’t try to work from your overdraft all the time – otherwise you end up feeding your impostor syndrome. Instead: consume as much content as possible. Go to exhibitions, watch Netflix, read blogs, browse YouTube, read fiction (and non-fiction) and don’t be afraid to engage with content that seems irrelevant at first glance. It all goes towards cross-pollinating your thought-life and exposes you to interesting questions/ ideas that will ensure that you have always something to say/ write about as you please.
Top Tip #2:
Write badly if you just need to dump your ideas out on paper. Sometimes, it can be a good idea to take a piece of paper and write the awful, cliched dribble that its clogging your creative pipes. Yes, you’ll never EVER end up putting those words into your draft but sometimes there are diamonds to be found in the rubble. And…you’ll be writing rather than staring onto a blank screen. Once you’re done, treat your handwritten page/ paragraph as part of your notes and feel free to come back to it (as you would to a piece of research or annotation). I’ve had some good success with this technique recently when I had an idea for a scene that didn’t fit into my plot. But once I decided to restructure the plot ahead of writing my third draft, I found that the scene I had dumped out (in primitive, unusable prose) fitted perfectly into the revised structure and now this scene has a purpose (and a substantial rewrite coming its way).
Top Tip #3:
Schedule regular writing time and protect it as though your life depends on it (because it does)! Make writing your priority and sit down to write during your scheduled slot. No ifs, no buts, no coconuts! Just do it! I admit that this is not a fail-safe strategy in itself, but in conjunction with the other top tips in this post, I now have an 80% hit rate for successful writing sessions across my 9 weekly scheduled writing slots (I don’t have much of a social life)…including the weekly writing slot I use to draft my Sunday Blog Posts! Happy days!
Have you found any effective strategies to be creative on demand or do you rely on random strokes of inspiration at the mercy of the oh so elusive muse? Feel free to share your thoughts on this in the comments section below and have a creative Sunday!