17 Oct 2017
Did you know that even the great Hemingway used to get writer’s block? He had a trick: “I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence.”
Did you notice something interesting? There’s a strategy in his approach: write one true sentence. However, there’s also a habit: the fire ritual and the view over the roofs of Paris. Hemingway got inspired by those routines.
Different writers have different habits. Can you think of a useful habit to develop when you want to inspire the creative writing process? Here are five suggestions for you:
Follow a Routine
You think routines would limit your creativity? You’re wrong. Developing good routines is not about functioning like a robot. It’s about doing something that keeps you energized and inspired.
Psychologist William James emphasized the positive effect of routine on the way we function: “There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every bit of work, are subjects of express volitional deliberation. Full half the time of such a man goes to the deciding, or regretting, of matters which ought to be so ingrained in him as practically not to exist for his consciousness at all.”
You get the point: a routine eliminates the need for making some decisions throughout the day. You don’t have to think about exercising in the morning. You just get up and do it. You don’t have to prepare for the writing process. You develop a habit to write and your whole system strives toward that task at that given time.
Start developing a routine. Find out what works and stick to it. Be persistent! Your system will support the creative process.
Combine Work and Play
Einstein believed in the concept of combinatory play as a way to support his creativity. It’s the act of boosting one mental function by engaging in another.
Einstein came up with many of his ideas during violin breaks. While stuck, he would set the work aside and play the violin for a few hours. This worked. During the play, he would get an idea that would push his work forward.
Engaging in an enjoyable activity can change your perspective. Relax and listen to music, watch a movie, read a book, play a board game, or engage in any other activity you like. Even if you stop thinking about the work, the ideas will come uninvited.
Don’t turn this routine into a procrastination habit, though, as it can consume too much of your time. If you don’t get any ideas within few hours, try a different creativity-boosting method.
Stay on Top of Trends in Other Fields
Christoph Donovan, a writer from BestEssays, shares his useful habit: “I spend one hour in the morning reading news in fields that are not related to my job, but are related to my interests. The trends in education, for example, help me write content that’s closer to the needs of new generations of students. Believe it or not, the trends in technology help me think of topics for history projects. You’d be surprised to see how inspired you can get by exploring different fields.”
What’s the best way to come up with a unique idea? Combine few concepts from various fields. Take music and communism, and you can write a story about a musician in communist China. The more you learn, the more inspired you get to explore various topics.
Connect with People Who Inspire You
Did you know that Tolstoy and Gandhi used to write letters to each other? It was a correspondence of two great minds. They shared ideas and opinions.
Why don’t you follow that example? Write to someone inspiring. Thanks to social media, it’s really easy to get in touch with a person you appreciate. Their influence will inspire you to work harder and to explore creative writing from a fresh point of view.
“A review of the latest science of daydreaming has shown that mind wandering offers very personal rewards, including creative incubation, self-awareness, future planning, reflection on the meaning of one’s experiences, and even compassion.” That’s what authors Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire explain in their book Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind.
You don’t have to be in focus mode all the time. You’re allowed to daydream. As a writer, you can gain great benefits from that habit. Just look at the stars, the tree, or anything else and let your mind wander.
Don’t stop the thoughts and don’t try to direct them. However, it’s important to observe the flow of the thoughts. New ideas will inevitably arise from this practice.
Creativity is really a mystery. Sometimes you can’t stop writing day and night, but sometimes the creative flow doesn’t come no matter how hard you try to trigger it.
Have you tried developing some of the above-listed habits? They can really support the process of creative writing.