Writing into the Dream – a six-week experiment in becoming a more productive writer
Writing into the dream. What is your dream? Do you imagine writing a novel? Writing a book of poems? A musical? Perhaps you draw or take photographs. What would your work look like if it was your dream work?
I recently had a chance to hear a design expert speak, someone who is well-established in the world of design and of “branding.” These days everyone is talking about “creating your own brand” (in writing they call it “having a platform”). This is where you develop a following on your blog, on social media, though a subscription newsletter, etc. The idea is that you make a name for yourself so that others will follow and support your work (perhaps monentarily).
Here is what the design expert said about branding: “Build a body of work – not a brand.” She said: it takes a body of work to define who you are as an artist or designer. Write, write, write (or draw! or take photos!) – and after a number of years, you will have developed a body of work that expresses your voice – not a generic “brand,” but who you are and why your work is distinctive and enjoyable for others to see/read/look at.
What is your dream? Now that we have been writing every day, encouraging our writing, scheduling writing time and perhaps writing earlier in the day, and we have listened to our writing and what it wants to be – let’s go bigger. What is your DREAM for your writing (or drawing, or photographs) and what would it look like? Let yourself go big. This is your imagination at work!
What I learned this week
Well, I admit I was skeptical about last week’s strategy – write early in the day. I know that morning is my time of highly productive energy. So, when I want to tackle a new organizing project, or take care of a must-do task, it goes faster in the morning, rather than later in the day.
My concern was, if I dedicate morning time to writing, then I’ll lose the opportunity to take care of those “must-dos” – they’ll drag out – when I get to them later in the day. But I found that I could set aside some time for writing first thing in the morning (usually about 90 minutes, sometimes longer) – and enjoy it! – and also have some leftover time for other tasks, if desired.
There is room for flexibility in this – you may not write well in the morning. When I was writing my third novel (years ago), I wrote in the evening, after all the day’s tasks were done. I felt much less pressure to “write well” at the end of the day, and I was more productive. If I had morning time to spend on writing tasks, I would do research during that time instead.
How about you? Did you try writing earlier in the day? Did you discover anything new about yourself and your writing this week? Perhaps you felt more productive … or perhaps you felt more pressured and less productive. What worked for you?
Productive Writer Strategy No. 6 – Write like a child plays.
Most creative people, and most people generally, remember their childhoods as a time when they threw themselves unself-consciously and wholeheartedly into all manner of creative efforts: drawing, storytelling, modeling in clay, whatever came to hand. Most important, they experienced no resistance to their play – only the intense, uncritical, unalloyed, and ineffable pleasure of the homo faber [the human being as creator]. (From On Writing, by Victoria Nelson)
This is the final strategy of our six-week experiment into being a more productive writer. You’ve structured your time, dedicated yourself to your writing, but you’ve also been kind to yourself as a writer, and asked your writing what it wants to be. This week, think back to when you were a child. What did it feel like to play make-believe, to play cards or Monopoly, to build with construction toys or to make something out of clay? Were you thinking about your “market” back then? (Of course not!) Did you worry about having an audience? (Not at all!)
I would like to invite you to join me in creative play this week. Every day when you write, try to remember the mood of play from when you were a child. Try to do at least one thing in your writing that isn’t part of a project, that is not a chapter, a story for publication, or a poem that’s part of your new poetic series . . . instead, do an exercise, or free-write from a line of poetry or an illustration that captures your attention. Or something else playful! Pay attention to things around you that make you excited about your creativity. Try using those in your daily writing.
Next week’s #productivewriter blog post
We will wrap things up in this experiment next week. Think about your dream, and I’ll think about mine, in the coming week. Let’s compare notes!
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. Are you feeling more productive? Do you feel any closer to reaching your dream? What has changed from when we started in Week 1?
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!