As a writer, I’m constantly trying to find new ways to motivate myself. Whether that means signing up for writing challenges, blog challenges or buying books about writing, it means that I am constantly trying to find imaginative ways to get the creative spark flowing. Contrary to belief, writing isn’t about waiting for inspiration. Its about showing up each day and making the effort to do the work. Only then will the words flow and the ideas come. Recently I’ve been finding it a struggle to keep motivated, but yesterday I had a good day. I sat down to write in my notebook I’ve reserved for writing my autobiography, and though the start was clunky and I felt my frustration leaking through, by the end of my writing session I had broken that block and accessed the part of myself that remembers everything that happened. It takes a while to warm up to writing, especially if other things have taken priority.
It has been a bleak few weeks but I’m finally ready to get going again and figure out what it is that I’m looking for in a job. I’ve got two ways I can do this – look for a part time job to fund my writing, or I can try for a journalist/editing type job that may not necessarily be part time but at least it would help my writing and help me to set up as a freelance writer. Either that or I can voraciously pursue a career in freelance writing – which, whilst unstable and stressful, will afford me the freedom to pick and choose what I want to write about, according to my expertise and interests. I’ve already started down that track with the Hearing Times – I’ve now written at least 6 articles for them. This means that I’m building up my experience with writing and that I’m also learning what its like to be on a deadline, edit my own copy down to the correct word-count, and learn how to manage my own projects.
Except for the fact that my own writing has been on the backburner for a little while, I feel optimistic about the future. However, I think its a truth that if you want to be a writer, you have to put the work in. The work is the thing – the writing is the thing. It isn’t about getting kudos in the end, because if the writing doesn’t get done, there will be no kudos. I’m learning the hard way that everyday is a battle with your own inner resistance. Two books that I’m finding helpful at this point in time are The War of Art and Do The Work! by Steven Pressfield. It is encouraging and inspirational to know that rather than thinking I must be lazy and can’t want to be a writer all that much because I’m feeling this resistance – it happens to absolutely every creative person out there. Every single day I wake up and don’t feel much enthusiasm about writing, but I do battle with that feeling and realise that it is what it is – just that innate feeling that can be overcome. It can be worked through. You just have to sit down and do the work, as unappetizing as it seems.
Sometimes, switching between projects helps to keep you fresh and motivated. I’ve found that focusing on fiction for too long makes me feel a bit restless, so I focus on autobiography or non-fiction instead for a little while. Sometimes, though, maybe if you’ve been working too hard for too long, and you’re worried that it will never get done, you need to give yourself permission to have a break, and stop feeling so guilty about it. Go to an art gallery, watch a film, get out of the house/study/office and breathe in the fresh air. I’m guilty of not doing enough of this. All things inspire your writing – living inspires your writing, seeing other art or reading helps your writing. Even if you don’t overtly think it’s having an effect, it is. It can’t do any harm to surround yourself with inspiration. Keep your eyes peeled on a walk – you never know what you’ll see, whether it will inspire you. Keep an open mind and open eyes. Record things in your notebook or by camera.
Anyone can be creative – just see things, try to understand and empathise, daydream and imagine things, create something everyday, whether a little illustration or doodle (hey, it doesn’t matter if you think its rubbish, at least you’re creating), a poem or haiku, a collage, knitting, writing – whatever. Freedom comes from learning how to express yourself and giving your mind and body a way of focusing on something active. We spend so much of our time being fed information and taking on harmful messages from the media that surrounds us, that it feels good to create something that isn’t part of all that, that may even challenge that. At a time when the world seems to be crashing down, we need creativity and art and self expression more than ever. I know that I find it important to write because if I didn’t, I would probably self implode from all the rubbish I get from the world around me – politics, advertising, the welfare system…it all seems to be trying to make me into something I’m not.
Now is the time to remember that you can do it. You can write, you can draw, you just have to pick up a pen or pencil and do it. You don’t have to be perfect. Practising will make your art evolve and give you more experience.
Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there. ~ Josh Billings
Cross posted from Fate is Chance. Destiny is Choice.