The WNFIN challenge is broken into three part: writing, publishing and promoting. Given that we are on day #2, we are in the first part: writing. We’ll start with some advice on how to ensure your creativity remains a constant flow all month long. For some writers, this creativity poses no problem. For others, however, creativity ebbs and flows, often ebbing just when they need it to flow—such as when they want to meet a deadline or achieve a goal, like finishing a project in 30 days.
That’s why I’ve asked my friend and colleague, Mary E. Knippel, founder of Your Writing Mentor and a creativity coach, to once again start off WNFIN with an guest post. This time she’s focused on how to get our creative juices flowing. Here are her five great tips to help you make it through this intensive writing month or any other heavy period of writing.
5 Ways to Tap into Your Creativity and Let Your Writing Flow
By Mary E. Knippel
Are you stuck when you sit down to write?
Does staring at the blank page (or the blinking cursor on the blank screen) throw you into a panic?
Have you procrastinated so long about what to write that you missed an opportunity to display your writing talents?
It happens to us all. However, waiting for the muse to arrive and the mood to shift is not a wise, or profitable, idea. We need to ignite our own spark and create our own inspiration. We need to face down our fears and not let any more opportunities pass us up.
Here are five ways to tap into your creativity and let your writing flow any time:
- Prime your pump - Warm up to set the stage for the main event. Set the timer and free write for at least 15 minutes. Do not edit or stop writing. Spelling does not count. Grammar does not count. Let the ideas and random thoughts pour out of you until the timer goes off. Use this time to free associate. Use this time to exorcise the thoughts in your head that are telling you to stop pretending you are a writer and go watch TV instead. Use this time to find the germ of an idea you want to nurture and grow into a blog post, newsletter item, an article, or the first draft of your book!
- Mind map it – Get out a huge sheet of paper (flip chart size), use a dry erase wipe board, or sit down at a large flat surface with a pad of post-its or index cards. Write your topic/subject in the middle of the sheet. Repeat the topic and write down what comes into you head on the paper, or jot down your ideas on separate post-its/index cards. Now, notice where you have ideas that go together and what doesn’t fit. Why? How did that specific thought pop up while you were working with this subject? Is it a wild card, or a giant reach that you’d like to explore further?
- Create a ritual – Design a process to establish with your mind and body that NOW the time for writing. It could be making a sign for your office door with specific hours dedicated to writing. It could be lighting a candle, striking a singing bowl, or a specific time of day. It could be using a specific pen and type of paper, or sitting at a designated chair with a favorite pillow. It could mean playing the same music when you write. Isabel Allende, celebrated author of 17 books and Marin resident, always begins writing a new book on January 8. A tradition that began in 1981 with a letter she wrote to her dying grandfather that became the foundation for her first novel, “The House of Spirits.” You decide what your personal ritual will be.
- Change things up – You’ve been doing things the same way for too long. Change it up. If you always start at 9 a.m., start at 6 a.m. If you’ve never written in a coffee shop, go write in one. (It’s a great place to get ideas for dialogue and practice your observation skills.) Do you write fiction? Try writing non-fiction. Write with your non-dominant hand. Have an imaginary conversation your main character.
- Keep your hands busy – When we are engaged in creative expression our body’s physiology changes from one of stress to one of deep relaxation, from one of fear to one of creativity and inspiration. Authors such as Emily Dickinson skillfully stitched together rhymes while mending family garments. Creative expression can actually change our brain wave pattern, and affect the autonomic nervous system. So pick up a needle and some yarn, stitch on a piece of cloth, or just splash paint on a canvas, engage your creativity in another medium. Approach your writing from another point-of-view and get ready for your words to flow!
About the Author
Mary E. Knippel, founder of Your Writing Mentor, is a creative professional with 25 years of extensive writing experience. Mary helps her clients move from concept to creation whatever the project: web text, personal profiles, newsletters, e-mail campaigns, blog posts, articles to artful taglines. Using her skills as a free-lance writer, editor, speaker, and workshop facilitator, Mary encourages all reluctant writers to embrace their writing potential and address writing challenges with fun and flair.
For the past 11 years, she has been a contributing writer for CoastViews Magazine. Since 2009, Mary has participated in the San Francisco Writers Conference as the Coordinator of the Independent Editors. As an editor, Mary helps aspiring writers with their book projects, and entrepreneur put their message into print. She moderated the “Healthy Living” panel at the 2010 Northern California Storybook & Literature Festival as well as participating as a panelist at the 2010 New Media Film Festival-San Francisco Bay Area.
“Creativity, The Gift Born of Crisis,” part memoir, part self-help, is Mary’s book about her breast cancer experience and the tremendous healing powers we can all access when we tap into our creativity, is in the final editing stages. She is a past president of the San Francisco Chapter of the Women’s National Book Assn (WNBA-SF), and a past board of the Peninsula Branch of the California Writer’s Club (CWC).
Visit her on the web at www.yourwritingmentor.com to read her blog, sign up for her next workshop, or to find out where you can hear her speak.
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