Creative writers always need more time. Drafting, reading, revising and submitting take up countless hours, and the process is endless. It’s a time sink that we love, but how are we even supposed to begin crafting the ideas in our minds into words when we’re exhausted by our crazy, stressful schedules?
Here are six ways that you can keep the creative in your writing throughout your busy life, so you can avoid the writing slump.
Consume content and take care of yourself
I’m putting this one first because it should be obvious, but it’s the one we all seem to skimp on. It’s so important to keep lots of ideas coming in, to energize you and inspire ideas to share. When you’re busy or stressed, don’t feel bad about enjoying a walk, viewing art or reading a book. Cook a nice meal. Listen to music. Whatever helps you relax and feel in the zone, do it. Put aside as little as 20 minutes to reflect and journal after or tackle that story you’ve been struggling with and see what flows from your pen.
If you don’t sit down to write, you’ll never create any writing. (Strange how that works, right?) That said, it’s a balancing act. Creatives who beat themselves up for not producing a certain amount at a certain time end up stressed and unable to create. Don’t worry if at times you are taking in more content than you create—it will balance out when inspiration blazes up.
Besides, ideas can be anywhere. You never know what your mind might come up with while you’re reading to your kids, walking the dog or relaxing with music. The perfect plot or character could just land in your lap!
Learn to enjoy sips as well as gulps
Even the most rushed days have moments of opportunity. Be ready to seize them, even if you have to be sneaky to do it. I know you’ve heard this before, but I’ll say it again—text, email, carry a notebook, grab a napkin—whatever you can do! Take a longer trip to the bathroom to think and text yourself an idea. If your bus is delayed or someone is late to a meeting, scribble some thoughts down or sketch out a character. You might happen to craft a useful line, and if nothing else you’ll have ideas waiting for you to play with when you have time to invest in longer pieces.
Being present in the moment is so important. If you’re always thinking about how to translate the moment into writing, you won’t enjoy yourself as much, and the pressure could stifle inspiration. You have to let go of looking too hard for ideas, so you can enjoy experiences. Later, you can jot down notes or impressions to capture the moment, but you must have a moment to capture first. Of course, sometimes a phrase or line comes to mind that you just have to write down—by all means, stop and get it on paper! Then put that notebook away and go back to living until it’s time to write.
Make your (non-creative) work sparkle
Is there really any such thing as non-creative writing? I don’t think so! You can inject a little creativity into whatever assignment is at hand, from emails to essays. Of course you don’t want to be flowery when you need to be concise, but a touch of inverted word order, a good metaphor or a quick sensory description lends power to any writing. Let your voice and style shine through as you get the task done and you’ll find a moment to exercise your creative brain while you work.
Simplify, be organized, and make time to write every day
Simplify your life and get organized, because freeing up time and mental space can only help your writing. It’s an investment that will pay off. Make writing a priority and put it on your schedule every day. Maybe you can only spare 15 minutes, but you’ll be actively focusing your creativity onto the page. Find what works for you. If setting a word goal makes your fingers fly, go for it. If the thought of digging in only to be cut off is too much, you can edit for a bit, jot down ideas, brainstorm, write something silly, describe a scene you saw, etc. Keeping your creative muscles toned requires discipline and your creative time is a necessary part of good health.
Use the library
We offer quiet space to write and plenty of art, film and print to fuel your inspiration. We’ve got you covered with books on getting organized, simplifying your life, handling stress and the craft of writing. Check out our community novel project and our National Novel Writing Month page to stay in the loop with library programs for writers.