This is going to seem a little silly as I am a blogger, but the hardest part of blogging for me is the writing. To be honest, I dread when my backlog begins to run low. This is not because I don’t enjoy writing, I absolutely love it once I get started, but it is the matter of getting started. Staring at a blank document on my computer with the cursor blinking in my face is overwhelming. It is as though that cursor is asking me a question every time is blinks. Not nice questions like “How is your day going?” No. It asks judgmental questions like “Do you even have anything useful to say?” or “Who are you to call yourself a writer?” WHOA little cursor (ahem, ego) your judgement is not appreciated. I know that I can’t be the only one that feels this way about my craft. So, I thought I would put it out in the open. Being creative is hard, whether you are pursuing it as a hobby or profession. If creating comes easy for you, please share your secret! For those of you that are in the same boat as me I want to share my routine and habits with you. Of course, we are all wired differently so my habits may not work for you, which is okay. All I hope is that this helps you feel less alone and possibly inspires you to create your own habits.
Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
When I decided it was time for me to get more serious (consistent) with my writing I went on the hunt for the perfect planner. Newsflash, the perfect planner doesn’t exist, but I got pretty close. Along with a planner, I picked up a set of colored pens, the nice felt tipped ones. I manage multiple blogs and online retail stores as well as all of their social media. This can become messy and unorganized quickly, so color coding has become my best friend. I swear this planner is my right-hand man. I schedule my writing. I know that sounds like it should be obvious, but it wasn’t something I was doing before. I would write when I felt like writing, which is important, but I found this way of inspired writing to be inconsistent. When I started to put it on my schedule, I found that inspiration happening more often. I have two ways of scheduling writing, if I know my content I will put down “Write “Habits” Blog”. For the times I don’t know my content I will put down “Write for one hour”. If I put an hour it almost always extends further, so I keep my schedule pretty open. I never put specific times down, such as “Write from 10am-noon”. I get frazzled and feel more restricted than motivated. For one of my blogs I manage a content calendar. On this calendar I have decided topics for an entire year making it simpler to write consistently. I do not have a content calendar for Pose and Ponder. I instead have a list of blog ideas. They can range from one word, to a quote or phrase. When I sit down to write I choose a topic that I am feeling inspired to write in the moment, with my list there as a back-up in case.
Some days your sit down to write and the inspiration is not there. You write a sentence that just doesn’t spark anything, no emotion, no inspiration, it is just utter junk. That’s okay! We can’t write masterpieces every time we sit down to write, what fun would that be? If you just can’t find the inspiration, write anyways. Scrap the plan you sat down with and go where your brain takes you. Sometimes this process can lead to dynamite writing. What it does for you though is generates words. The more you generate words, the easier you will find the words come down the road. If you have cursor paralysis like I do, consider starting with a plain old notebook and pen. This is a new habit of mine. Something in my brain gets overwhelmed by that blinking cursor, but a blank notebook page doesn’t give me the same feeling. Some days I will write the whole blog post in my notebook and then type it up. Other days just the process of starting on the page then moving to the computer is enough. Try different ways of writing, on the computer, in a notebook, on a napkin, as a text on your phone. You may find that your inspiration was hindered by the way you were writing and not the content.
Change it Up or Don’t
I find this is where people are either on the same page or polar opposites. I find when I am in an inspiration drought I need to switch up where I am writing. There is something about a loud coffee shop that gets the creative juices moving. No headphones, just the lullaby that is generated by the patrons and the equipment. This may come from my years of working as a barista, I just tuned into the sounds around me. I know that this can be really distracting for some people. If this is you, maybe find a place that is a little quieter whether that be a public library, an empty park, or your car. If you find you can’t get away, but you need a change consider adding a bouquet of flowers or trying different types of music. For about a month I found I was most focused when I listened to the musical soundtrack of Les Miserables. If you usually write just wherever and are struggling with that motivation, consider creating a writing space. It can be in a comfy chair in your home, the dining room table, even your bathtub. You may just need a consistent space to get you in the zone. There is no rhyme or reason behind inspiration, it just happens where it happens.
What it all comes down to is making your craft a habit and recognizing how your mind responds to it. Some days you may pull out every trick in the book to get you going without any luck. On these days you just have to recognize where you are and take a break. Set it aside and come back to it. Forcing creativity usually leads to negative emotions about your craft and yourself. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life! Recognize the processes that set you back and combat them with tried and true habits. Try them all. Determine what works for you. Do them over and over and over again. You can do this. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone.