Writing gives you the opportunity to feel the flow of creative juices, allows you to be heard, serve your readers, clear your mind of extraneous thoughts and focus on what really matters. But even on a good day, writing is a challenge. Here are seven ways to help you access more creativity and increase enthusiasm for the writer’s journey. 1. Write in different media. While your writing will most likely end up in your word processor, you should be open to writing in another medium at least a percentage of the time. Sit in a park and write in a notebook, try talking into a recorder, or use an old typewriter. Even if you’re using a computer, it’s a good idea to stir things up every now and then: try an unusual font or color, type with your non-dominant hand (some say this encourages creativity because it stimulates your right brain) , type super fast, or type really slow, or experiment with different types of music while writing. It’s also a good idea to print often and annotate in the margins. This gives you the bigger picture you need for clear and powerful writing. 2. Intertwining reading with writing. If you feel blocked from writing, go to the bookstore or library and read topics similar to the one you’re working on. This is not so much an exercise in “comparison” to feel that you “can do better than them.” The greater benefit of reading more is the awareness of the interconnectedness between writing and reading. School teachers often make reading and writing sound like they are two completely different activities, but they are intrinsically linked. When you read, you open up and make room for new ideas that come to mind. Writing is essentially no different. One way to see the connection between the two is to practice active reading. Active reading is reading the text as text, not being completely absorbed in its meaning, and instead devoting a small amount of attention to learning new techniques and styles. Use the connection between reading and writing to your advantage by dancing between them until you can feel their relationship. This shorts out writer’s block faster than anything I know of. 3. Focus on solutions. Don’t forget to bring your attention back to the solutions to the “problems” you see in your writing. Powerful writing is about turning your attention inward to find new ideas in a field of infinite ideas. There is a great benefit to redirecting your attention in a surprising and positive new direction. You do this by paying attention to your inner database of writing tips: Show don’t tell, say more with less, keep the tension high for your main character, emphasize the benefits for your reader, and so on. The main consideration for editing your work should be, “What can I add or remove to create a stronger next version?” This question takes you out of your self-judgment and puts you in a solution-oriented framework. 4. Use Emotions to Stimulate Creativity Be it calmness, fear, or passion, any emotion can fuel the creative pot and help you become a better writer. Realize that there is a connection between your emotions and your future readers. Consider this: the quality of your emotional state as you write will affect the quality of your future readers’ emotional state. When you write, turn your attention inward to the sense of the creative flow and the emotions that accompany it. Bask in the flow. All your emotions will help. For example, if you’re writing a piece that you hope will elevate readers, be as mindful and calm as possible while writing. See if you can tap into the feeling you want your readers to feel. To breathe. Stretch every now and then. The brighter and more peaceful you are as you write, the brighter and more peaceful your readers will feel down the line. Likewise, if you’re writing a thriller, do everything you can to get your adrenaline flowing as you write. You can do some push-ups, play loud music or write by candlelight. Watch your body and posture. If you want to scare future readers, you could purposely take shallow breaths for a while or literally sit on the edge of your seat. Your posture is important. It helps you turn everything you feel into creative inspiration. 5. Give Help to Another Writer . Helping someone else is a great way to help yourself. It is an art to give useful feedback. Here are a few tips: a. Help the other writer brainstorm new options. Suggest another metaphor, another example, a new direction, or another word. Try to open doors. b. Ask questions: What is the meaning of this paragraph? Can you explain this idea better? Who is your target audience? How do you want your audience to react to this? c. Again, focus on solutions, not problems or personal reactions. For example, if you criticize someone’s crime thriller and start to lose interest, say “How about more danger here?” instead of just saying, “I was bored.” No matter what you don’t like about writing, know that there is always a solution. d. Keep it real. Express the negative in a way that encourages the writer to improve. Distinguish your response from the writing itself. See your opinions as opinions, not as external facts. 6. Get help from another writer. Hiring a writing coach or getting feedback from other writers will improve your writing better than anything I know. Or start or join a writing group. But you still have to stay true to yourself and write what lives in your heart. There is an art to taking advantage of the feedback of others. This is what I propose: a. Ask for the specific help you want. Do you want the other person to help you with character development? Organization? Grammar? Or maybe you’re “wide open” to all input, which is fine, but it’s okay to say this in public. b. The sting! How do you deal with it when the feedback you get is negative? You dig deeper and rewrite! When someone mentions something about your writing that you couldn’t see, it’s a gift to you, no matter how much it stings at first. But you still have to stay true to your own message. Perhaps you’ll keep…
Freelance writing for fun will make you more money
Do you want to earn more money with your writing? You can – just start to have fun with your writing. My “fun” projects always make me more money in the end than projects that I start with consultation and thinking ahead. I have also noticed this phenomenon in many of my writing colleagues. Try different forms of writing — Get out of your rut Writing is a discovery process. You often don’t know what you think about a subject until you start writing about it. What you write will often surprise you. Also try different forms of writing. You can only discover what you are capable of as a writer by writing yourself. So if you write articles, write a book. Or write a video script. The more fun you can make writing, the more you will write and the more possibilities you will discover through writing. Try writing a book — you can blog it Many writers want to write a book, but find that writing a book means a long time without income. If you think writing a book would be fun, it’s a big clue that you need to write a book. So try blogging your book. You never know: you might get a publisher before you finish your book. A blog is also easy to monetize so you can earn an income while you write. What subject would you most like to write about? Just start writing. Having fun writing about a topic means having something to say. As mentioned, writing is a process of discovery: you know what you want to say when you have said it. Who do you need? Step out your front door Your writing will only give you new opportunities if you put yourself in the place where those opportunities can arise. For example, I often recommend blogging to writers. Blogging offers opportunities; it is immediate publication. More people will have the chance to read your writing and recognize your name. A friend has built a successful career as a family histories ghostwriter because she makes a habit of talking about her writing wherever she is. Another writing colleague was hired to write a video script by someone he met at a dinner party; the video script led to a book, and the book led to a multi-book series. All writing is a journey, and the journey takes you to places you can’t even imagine. So have fun writing. You never know where it will lead you — and it will make you more money.
Write more, sell more – 3 easy ways to write more
Want to sell more of your writing? Common sense suggests that you can only sell what you’ve already written. So let’s take a look at ways you can write more. First, it is important to understand that writing is a craft, art and skill that develops with practice. Just as the rich get richer, people who write develop the ability to write more. The downside is that if you don’t write, you’ll find it increasingly difficult to write; but this only means that you are out of practice. 1. Realize that writing is a process – Write in stages Tip: The writing process has three or four stages: planning, writing (as in free-writing), revision, and occasional rewriting. New writers don’t know this, and some established writers who write very little have never learned to write in stages. New writers try to do everything at once. They want to “write” in one concept. They don’t realize that professional writers use multiple drafts – and sometimes a lot of drafts. Always separate the phases of your writing. For example, on Sunday I plan most of what I plan to write in the following week. I research topics, create mind maps, write titles and create mini contours. I can also make some plans during the week, when I’ve just been commissioned to write something. If you remember to write in stages and separate the stages by at least a day, you’ll write more automatically, because you already know what you’re writing — your planning got the pump going. 2. Sit down and write – the eleven minute rule Several years ago I wrote under contract and found the project both boring and depressing. I always put off writing that day for as long as I could until I finally forced myself to sit down and write. This experience taught me something important: not to be influenced by my emotions or moods. If you force yourself to start writing, however reluctant you are, the inspiration starts around 11 minutes. From that moment on you are completely absorbed in your writing. So if you don’t want to write, or feel like you’re blocked, give it 11 minutes. 3. Set goals and get jobs Put yourself under pressure. Set writing goals and get as many writing assignments as possible. If you have goals and people are waiting for you to complete writing projects for them, you will write more. Unfortunately, some writers wither under pressure. If this is you, you already know this about yourself. You may have reacted badly to exam pressure when you were in school. Meditation will help; take a meditation class, either in person or using a CD program. Meditation helps you to feel comfortable with stress. You learn to let emotions run free and to develop a relaxed focus. So there you have three easy ways to write more – I encourage you to try them.