Writing into the Dream – a six-week experiment in becoming a more productive writer
Write every day. Write something. Every day.
This is hard, right?
Commit to writing at least 90 minutes a day (if writing is your job/vocation).
Write every day for two weeks (or at least for this week).
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!
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)
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 sketch. Then 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:
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!