Writing is one of the best ways to get your creativity flowing – even if you’re not a writer.
I’ve written an article about how many of us struggle to see ourselves as creative people. We’re all artists – the brain constantly creates new ideas. Want proof? Try to keep your brain silent for even thirty seconds.
But I don’t want to just say that we’re creative. Let’s introduce a good habit to tap into that creativity. Daily free-writing is one of the best ways to engage with your thoughts and get your ideas flowing. And everyone can reap the benefits; not just professional writers. The creative habits you develop from daily writing will benefit every area of your life – even the ones that have nothing at all to do with writing.
What is creativity?
Asking this question is kind of like asking, “What is art?” It’s almost hopeless to get a good definition that works for everyone. But I think that at its heart, creativity is nothing more than the ability to make new connections between things you already know.
Creativity is the ability to engage with your thoughts and experiences, and draw new things out of them.
Writing to be creative.
When you spend time writing, you’re forced to engage with your own thoughts. You have to think about, well, what you’re thinking. You have to think about what happened yesterday, or last week, or last year, or ten years ago. You have to think about different areas of your life and how they might all go together.
Writing puts things together on a wider scale. It makes new connections where you didn’t see any before.Creativity.
Creativity is not so much about being original – it’s more about seeing something that’s already there from a different angle. Just the very act of writing, even if it’s not particularly amazing writing, is still being creative. I’m going through my head, seeing what’s there, and putting it together.
The steps needed to get into the daily discipline of writing are very similar to the ones suggested in my other article: Six Steps to Getting Things Done. So let’s get started with the writing discipline.
Make a time and a place.
It’s hard to do things when we just leave them on our mental “whenever I get to it” list.
Set aside a time and a place for your writing. If you work best in the morning, wake up a few minutes earlier. More of a night-owl? Then do it in the evening. Or maybe you just have a few minutes during your lunch break. Pick a time then pick a place.
I like to go to the library or lock myself in my home office for a few minutes. Maybe you like the coffee shop. Whatever you like. Just pick a place where you feel comfortable and focused.
Don’t get distracted.
For me it’s a big let-down when I’m getting into my thoughts and then get distracted by an email or Facebook chiming in the background. Shut everything off for a few minutes while you’re writing. Or better yet, if technology is just too distracting for you, just get a paper journal instead. Most of my writing is on the computer, but sometimes I just like to sit with a cup of coffee and write in my beautiful handmade leather journal.
Consistency is key.
I like to write for about twenty-five minutes every morning. I feel like that’s the best balance between getting to the deep places in my brain and not getting mentally burned out. But do what works best for you and what you have time for. Maybe it’s 750 words – 500 words – one page. Whatever. Pick a target and stick with it. Consistency is most important – so don’t burn out trying to do more than you can.
Don’t over think it.
You’re not trying to win a prize in literature – just trying to get into the habit of exploring your thoughts and being creative. It doesn’t matter if your grammar is perfect or if you write in the precision of a Greek epic. Just get your thoughts on paper. If you want to make something nice, you can always go through it again later and pick out the good parts.
Some days you’ll feel like profound words are flowing out of your fingers with no effort at all. Some days you’ll feel like you have nothing worth saying. I struggle with writing all the time. But when I just show up, sit down and do it, I’m often pleasantly surprised at something new I hadn’t thought of before.
Writing helps every area of life.
Even if you’re not planning on being a writer, or don’t even have a blog and never plan on making one, writing will still be enormously beneficial for you. You’ll still get into the habit of making those new connections.
What if you could train your brain to become much better at making those connections all the time? What if you could take that ability you developed from writing and transfer it into everything else you do: like fixing something around the house or solving problems at work? You’d feel more confident and do a much better job at the other things you have to do that aren’t related to writing.
Why not take a one week writing challenge and see what you come up with? Leave me a comment or visit my Facebook and Twitter page and share your experience with us. And don’t forget to share this article with someone who needs it.