Simple Sunday: Creativity

by Frank Martin

Simple Sunday is an on-again, off-again series giving a few ways to simplify some aspect of life. Previous posts have focused on money, technology, and exercise. Today we’re going for writing. This post is labeled creativity because, really, these five points pretty well apply to any creative endeavor.

1 Start a daily writing habit: I’ve been writing off and on since I graduated from college last year, but I haven’t really done a whole lot, especially not continuously, until this month. The big difference? I started a daily writing habit. If we only write when we feel like it, not much is going to get done. It’s not just me saying this either. Every successful author will say the same thing. King, Sanderson, Wilber, all of them. I’ve found a word count or certain minimum writing time (or both) helps a lot. Just get yourself in the chair every day.

2 One Thing: When I write, whether it’s a blog post or a short story or anything, the first thing I do when i sit down is to turn on the full screen function on whatever word processor I’m using. This eliminates every possible distraction, and forces me to focus. The internet, Skype, and Spotify might still be there, but with a blank page filling the screen, its less likely those things will be played with. If music helps you focus, go for it, I’ve found it can be distracting for me, so I do the majority of my writing in relative silence.

3 Do Nothing: Make sure you’ve got time every day where you aren’t really doing much of anything. Take a walk for the sake of taking a walk. lay on the couch and day-dream, take a nap. Most ideas I’ve had for blog posts or stories have come to me when I’m not writing. This is a great boon in general as well. We’ve gotten so used to having to be active 24/7/365, sometimes we don’t realize how stressed out we are until we give ourselves permission to slow down and smell the roses or watch the clouds drift by. Don’t stress out about this either. I keep a journal specifically for ideas, and when something pops into my head I scribble it down and immediately forget about it.

4 Don’t judge your behind the scenes by someone else’s highlights reel: There are plenty of writers out there that inspire me. At the same time they also discourage me. Its part of the reason there have been long spans here where nothing gets posted. Truth is, we only think some people are born talented. Most any writer is where they are because they love what they do, and put a lot of work into their craft that we don’t see. Self doubt is part of being a writer. Everyone experiences it. Its how we know we’re doing something right. The ones that succeed aren’t the ones that don’t feel it. They’re the ones that feel it and love what they do enough to keep going anyway. Tammy Strobel, maybe my favorite simple living blogger, and creator of RowdyKittens, has discussed her process a couple times, and there’s a lot of journaling, mind-mapping, tearing apart and reworking. Its just the way it is. If we can write something perfectly the first time and not have to touch it, we are the exception, not the rule.

5 Just write: This is something I struggle with myself, but the idea here is that when you’re writing, just write. Don’t obsess about grammar, spelling, punctuation. Don’t be judgmental. Turn that inner critic off and just get pixels down on the screen (or ink/led on paper). You can go back and fix things later, and you should. Focus on getting the ideas down first, even if you think they’re stupid, or you think someone has said the same thing before and done it better.