#productivewriter 2 – bringing encouragement to your writing

Writing into the Dream – a six-week experiment in becoming a more productive writer

Last week, we said this:

Write every day. Write something. Every day.

This is hard, right?

We said:

  1. Commit to writing at least 90 minutes a day (if writing is your job/vocation).

  2. Write every day for two weeks (or at least for this week).

  3. No matter how busy you are, write for 15 minutes (or longer).

This IS hard!  We all have lives.  We have family commitments, we have work commitments, we have chores and errands and much-needed down time.

And yet:  SO MANY people did this.

I was thrilled to hear that, for one week, we were writing every day for at least 15 minutes.  People squeezed in their 15 minutes at the end of the day, in their lunch break, first thing in the morning.  Some of us who write as our primary vocation prioritized our writing, for a change – writing BEFORE turning to other commitments.

CONGRATULATIONS!  Over the past week you have committed to yourself and to your own writing.  You did it!

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What I learned this week

A couple of things I learned:

I have been short-changing my own writing.  I made the mistake of thinking I had “all the time in the world,” because my outside work has been gradually decreasing.  Yet I was eating into my writing time by answering emails and other “urgent” non-writing commitments – and my writing energy.  I underestimated the time I need for my writing. Each day this week, I opened my writing in the morning and gave it as close to 90 minutes as possible.  When I did my writing first, I felt much more productive than when I came to it after a number of other tasks.

I was surprised by how long I spent on just ONE project.  For instance, last Monday I thought, I’ll just finish my “cave” story (a re-telling of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves).  Suddenly I checked the clock and it had been almost 90 minutes since I started … and the story wasn’t even done yet – although I had made good progress.  Wow, it takes longer than I thought it would, to really work on my writing.

What have you learned this week?  What would you tell your writing self it it were a separate part of your “writing team”?  How would you help your writing self become more satisfied and more productive, drawing on lessons learned from this week?

Productive Writer Strategy No. 2 – Give encouragement to your writing self.

This week I’m going to share a little-known secret to becoming a more productive writer.  Writers need more than discipline.  To be truly creative and to produce brilliant writing involves more than simply forcing yourself to write.  Do you find yourself sitting in front of the computer screen – or a blank writing pad – ready to write, yet nothing comes to mind that you really want to write?  Perhaps you find yourself thinking, that story has already been told, or no one will ever read what I’m writing, or I can’t think of anything new to write – I must be a terrible writer.

Writers need more than self-discipline.  Writers need encouragement.  Take a look at this information from author and writing teacher Victoria Nelson:

What is creativity?  Above all, it is play, the child’s fresh spontaneity waiting to come forth in writing or painting or composing music or any other act of art.

. . . Writers who want to recapture this joyful spirit from which the hard work of creative endeavor draws its energy must have the humility to recognize, first of all, that they may have forgotten how to play.  Luckily, learning how to again is not that hard.

. . . Creative discipline grows out of pleasure, not out of tyranny or self-abuse.

. . . To function as a writer, one must, above all, love and honor one’s creative force, which can be pictured – in what has become a pervasive metaphor of our era – as a kind of childlike spirit.  (On Writer’s Block, pp. 3-5, 7)

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This week: Give your writing self encouragement.  

Keep writing at least once a day for at least 15 minutes.  But this week, add the following “pre-writing” query to your daily writing:

Before you start to write, ask your creative spirit, that “childlike” spirit that fuels your writing, this question:  What would you like to work on today? and then listen.  It may be a blog post, it may be a list of ideas for writing, it may be a new flash fiction or poem or character sketchThen try working on that project during your 15 minutes of writing.

This is your “childlike spirit” speaking to you.  Yes, perhaps you would like to finish that short story you’re going to submit to a competition.  Or you really want to keep going on that novel you’ve been writing.

But just for this week:  try to spend your writing time on what your “childlike spirit” wants.  Don’t chain it down, don’t compel it to work on something it’s not excited about.  Let it choose you will work on.

Practice loving and honoring that creative spirit.  You may be amazed at what comes out.

Share your thoughts!

We are in this together!  Feel free to add a reply-comment about how your week went – what you learned, how you felt, whether you made time for writing every day.  Include the following pingback if desired:

https://theresabarkerlabnotes.com/2017/05/14/productivewriter…-to-your-writing/

As always, I wish you the gift of finding your own voice, and of enjoying your own creative expression.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Photo by Theresa Barker.

30 thoughts on “#productivewriter 2 – bringing encouragement to your writing

  1. Hi Teresa, I appreciate your encouragement. I don’t give enough time to my writing. I try to balance between blogging and writing. I have more than a hundred bloggers checking on my posts and made comments. I feel obligated to return my support, and reply the comments for sure. I continue to try to give myself some time to write every day. I’m not writing enough what I want to write yet!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Miriam, you are so artistic (painting, photography, AND writing) that it doesn’t surprise me that you feel stretched for time to write. And, I know the feeling of commitment to other bloggers posting and commenting. It takes a lot of time! I love that you take time every day to write – and I’m looking forward to hearing if you feel you start to do a little more of what you want to write soon! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your observations about this with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think my “childlike spirit” would like ice cream in this cold weather for lunch… Maybe then we’ll write something awesome? sigh Still not done with the short story that looked so easy to write last Monday – even though I ignored my feelings (writing is a profession, not a playpen) and pushed through, I only finished other projects and the short story is still a little meh. Maybe this week’s task of self-encouragement will get the to-do list done… Now for ice cream and choosing something at random from my list 🙂
    Thanks for this great project, Theresa 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh! I love this idea. I am completely in favor of ice cream for lunch even in cold weather. And I am so like that – professional, not playful – so, I’ll be interested in hearing how this week goes for you, Ronel! I’m excited you’re in this with me and I’m learning from you and other blogger readers as we go! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree 110%. 🙂 Maybe that’s why I only have rare moments of not having anything to write because my wandering mind is always picking up ideas and I write about them. I follow my “creativity.” Even my poetry doesn’t sound right when forced. I know we need discipline but the discipline is in the actual writing and not necessarily in writing a something specific that’s planned ahead of time. “Creative discipline grows out of pleasure, not out of tyranny or self-abuse.” I love that! And I think it becomes easier to write what we need to write (for competition) when we have been writing what we feel like writing. What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anne, you are SOOO right about this. Kudos! It took me a long time to let my “creative self” not be chained down, or taken for granted. Good for you! No wonder you are so creative as a writer!

      1. Thank you my friend. Although, I think it’s because I didn’t/couldn’t consider myself a writer. Writers “have to” write and you do. 🙂 I wrote when I felt I had something to write. 🙂 I’m still forgiving now when I don’t write so it’s not so bad when I miss.
        And, maybe you just didn’t realize you were creative. We have those moments when we are most critical with ourselves.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I managed to write every day but yesterday. Mother’s day is always an emotional roller-coaster for me and if I had written anything it would have been on the dark side. I have more than enough of that in my journals already. Instead, I read for awhile Jordan Rosenfeld’s Writing the Intimate Character and I worked on my mandala, part 10 is definitely challenging and requires focus.
    Vic and I had grilled steak, steamed clams, corn on the cob and garlic bread for dinner and 3 fun games of cribbage last evening which made for a great evening together.
    Today, it’s back on track day.
    I need to work on creative discipline, I can meet a deadline with no difficulty but when it comes to writing spontaneously with my inner childlike spirit I struggle.
    Hope you had a great Mother’s Day!

    Like

    1. Lyn! First, congratulations on taking Mother’s Day “off”! Very healthy to know it is emotionally volatile for you. And I LOVE that you took time with your loved one and just spent it together. What a great way to “feed your artist”! I was also interested that you took time to READ. So many writers I talk to say something like, “I used to read, but I don’t have time any more, I’m always writing.” But, I find that reading fuels my interest in writing – even reading about writing! Thank you for sharing your response and observations to this experiment. I would love to hear more sometime about your struggle with creative discipline. One of the challenges I find in writing is having to make one’s own structure. Even if I have all the time in the world, I’m still not sure what to work on or what would feel most rewarding. We’re in this together! Thanks, Lyn!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s Toms creation he has been hard at work at over the past year. It will be under the genre of fiction but will be non fiction. It will involve the real life characters revolving around one central character trying to make sense of it all. It has humor, heart ache and everything in between. He’s having fun and together we are having fun. Life is fun.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You know so well Theresa how the numbers work though. As the edit continues it will pare down. Right now I’m just throwing mud to get the character arc’s in place. It is such a fun process working the pieces together.

        Liked by 1 person

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