Losing creative momentum in the wake of an isolating collective crisis is real and very distressing, especially when so much of your emotional health depends on your writing practice! So how do you find a balance?
First thing’s first: take a breath and take a step back. Rejuvenating your creative process is not all about productivity: it can also be about recognizing how creative work is a reliable and effective coping mechanism. Temporarily shift the purpose of your writing, and use it as a tool to allow yourself the freedom to process the multitude of emotions you may be experiencing. This can both help you produce more material by freeing up head space, and also transform your work into a manifestation of your own resilience.
That’s when some seriously powerful stuff happens.
But restoring your writing practice is no small feat! Recognizing the dedication and discipline involved is an important step. When you’re feeling cemented in place, try shifting the focus to the smaller tasks at hand and allow yourself to get into a rhythm before you attempt to conquer any larger goals.
To help get you started, we curated some actionable steps for you to try as a springboard for reigniting your workflow.
Update Your Workspace
Shaking things up with your workspace might seem like a small chore, but it can have a profound effect on your creativity levels. When you designate and design a space for your craft, challenge yourself to create an environment that reflects a sense of pride in your work. And enjoy the process of dedicating time to a constructive workspace as a way to honor the importance of your writing.
Cooped up at home? Don’t let limited space freeze you up- kick start your innovative energy by working with what you have!
Here are a few ideas you can use to freshen things up:
- Embrace Natural Light: Natural light enhances productivity in a number of ways from improving your mood to reviving creative energy. If setting up near a window isn’t possible, situate yourself as close to a natural light source as possible to reap these immeasurable benefits.
- Surround Yourself With Life: Whether this be with plants (Pothos are a great option as they are nearly impossible to kill) or with pictures of people and places, having images of life surrounding your writing station will add energy and intention to your workspace.
- Keep It Comfortable & Distraction Free: Eliminate background noise and create a playlist ahead of time, even if it’s white noise. Make sure you have everything you need before you start writing whether it be the perfect pillow, snack, beverage, or your therapy animal. Also, try working offline to avoid the never-ending distractions associated with phones, notifications, and the internet.
With our daily routines turned upside down and thrown into limbo, your usual sources of inspiration might feel inaccessible. But that does not mean inspiration itself remains unattainable!
- Connect With People in Creative Ways: Write letters to someone you hardly know. Spend a little extra time on the phone with a solicitor or customer support personnel. Better yet, volunteer as a virtual companion to someone in a long term care facility and just listen.
- Oh Yeah! Take The Time to Listen: Someone else’s story may lead to the creation of your own, even if it’s someone you don’t agree with. It’s also an important practice to listen to others in times of crisis, allowing deeper connections to grow and open more room for human interaction to draw inspiration from.
- Write Down Your Dreams: Our subconscious is an amazing creative place! If your interactions are limited in waking life, we can still turn inward for new ideas. Dreams are an amazing source of unconscious, unedited thinking that can blossom into a potential storyline as you document them.
Sustain a Regular Practice
You’ve taken the time to tend to your physical space and head space, and the gears are now in motion. Keep things moving! Find your rhythm and practice. Some days will be easier than others. Don’t torture yourself with the expectation that it’s always going to feel good and that everything you produce needs to be the next big thing.
- Collaborate With Others: Nothing will help light that fire underneath you like committing to a regular co-working session with another writer. You will be less likely to find “viable” excuses to flake and instead get to bounce ideas off of another person. This is a great way for both of your ideas to grow.
- Set Daily Goals: Recognize that this is a tough one, and it’s important to be forgiving of yourself. Start small: list ideas, set word counts. Whatever it is you need to do until you find a sustainable momentum. Every writer will have something different that works for them, so give yourself some time to experiment with what feels challenging, but not prohibitive. For example, set aside 1-2 hours a day to write. If that sounds unmanageable, start with 30 minutes and watch how quickly that turns into a couple of hours. The important step is blocking out the time and honoring it.
- Give Yourself Writing Exercises: It’s always good to take a break from the big projects once in a while. Just like how a musician stays proficient by practicing scales, writers can do the same. When you feel yourself running out of steam, keep the embers glowing with simple exercises until you feel ready again.
Be Forgiving Of Yourself and Recognize Your Accomplishments
These lists are certainly not a catch-all, patch-up fix. While you experiment with some of these changes to your routine, don’t forget to recognize that you may get knocked out of rhythm again. If you can’t get in a consistent rhythm on the first try, that is certainly no reflection of who you are as a writer!
You would be doing yourself a disservice if you ignored the intricate connection your writing practice has to your emotional well being and vise versa. Having a creative mind and need for artistic output brings the inevitability that your wheels will start spinning in the mud again. Even in the moments that feel the most impossible, when you’re stuck, having the awareness around when it’s time to step back, take a breath, and rejuvenate your process is essential. Again, it doesn’t mean you’re not productive or not a successful writer. It just means you’re human.