Yesterday, I talked about fears. It was great to read responses on Twitter, Facebook and the blog. It reminded me there is similarity in what we’re worried about when it comes to sharing our work. I’m thankful for a community of people who will talk about their fears. I think there is power in sharing because it helps us remember we aren’t alone.
That being said, I wanted to follow up yesterday’s post with things I’m trying to fight fears that constantly nag me. Some of these are new. Some of them are part of my life in general. But I’m finding all of them help me shape a process that works for me to create. Some days are easier than others. I still fear the word “routine” because it feels like the antithesis of “adventure”. Though oddly enough, I’m finding that finding a routine and establishing a time and a space for my writing is generating ideas rather than stuffing them.
Here are 7 things I’ve begun to implement to combat my creative neurosis:
1. Write: Every morning, I drag my butt out of bed between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. I shower, let the dog out, & eat breakfast. Finally I turn on my computer, open up Word and start typing. Much of it never see publishing. Some of it ends up on this blog. In this current stage, writing is about discovery as much as it is about honing my voice and creating blog posts. As Flannery O’Conner said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
2. Pray: I ask the Lord to fill my heart and my mind with His words. I want to draw inspiration from the surroundings He’s given me, or the music I’m listening to. I know He’s the one who has filled me with the gift and desire to write, so I ask Him to use my words how He chooses. In this same vein, while Elizabeth Gilbert and I have different views on divine inspiration, I love her TED Talk on genius and creativity. Carve out 20 minutes and watch it. If you’ve watched it, watch it again. You won’t be sorry.
3. Read: I read books, articles and blogs that inform me, challenge my way of thinking, for enjoyment, or all 3. Reading not only engages my brain, but it increases my vocabulary, and settles me. It’s a break from a computer screen. (My current recommendations: Daring Greatly by Brené Brown and Make Your Idea Matter by Bernadette Jiwa.)
4. Walk: 15-20 minutes around the block helps me get my thoughts in order and often brings clarity to how I want to communicate. It also puts things in perspective. Sometimes my deepest frustrations have come because I’ve been too buried in a project or idea. A change of scenery brings things into focus.
5. Read Aloud: This exercise shows me where things don’t flow or make sense. Mostly I read to myself, but sometimes to other people I trust. More often than not, they’ll tell me if what I’m saying is silly or if I should explore a particular idea in depth. (I usually try to do this at home because reading aloud at Starbucks makes you look crazy. Kind of like the guy who’s talking into his Bluetooth headset but you can’t see it so you think he’s bizarre.)
6. Get Alone: This can be difficult because I love people. So to combat my desire to distract through talking, I’ve started getting up at the buttcrack of dawn, as I mentioned earlier. I also downloaded Coffitivity, a productivity app that simulates the sound of a coffee shop. I can hear people talking, but I can’t actually talk to them. (I’ll leave that to my fiction writing friends.)
7. Press Publish: If I don’t post something, then one of my fears is actually true. No one will read what I write. Nevertheless, pushing publish on my blog is often ripe with trepidation. Especially if I’ve shared something particularly personal. I hope I never lose this feeling. Good writing means you get my opinion. Giving you my best work means I better be leaving chunk of myself on the page. It also makes me commit to what I’ve written, no matter what anyone says about it.
So what about you? What is your best work and how do you overcome fears associated with it? Do you have a routine you use to trigger creativity?