I love to write. Whether it’s murder mysteries where the plot twist takes you by surprise or a case study explaining how awesome a company is, I absolutely love writing. However, one large problem I’ve often had with writing is the expectation that if you are a great writer, you must be able to write about anything on the spot—no matter the situation. I’m not sure where this expectation comes from, but that’s not how I work, and based on what I’ve observed, it’s not how a lot of people work either – “writer’s block” is a phrase for a reason!
Many times, I’ve stared at a blank page willing the words to come, only to be disappointed. I’ve forced myself to just start writing only to become stuck at each word and emerge with something that makes no sense. In my experience, being able to write a great piece has more to do about inspiration than just having the talent or will to write. You can’t just scrawl or type out your thoughts onto a page. Your thoughts are affected by your mood, surroundings and even your source of motivation. If you’re writing something out of fear of a close deadline, I can almost assure you the finished product will not be as well-written as something you put together when you are randomly inspired to write. So how do you find that spark that lights up your creativity and helps your writing flow when you need it to the most?
Given all these challenges, I wanted to share my tips for how to crank out great writing:
- Find your ideal writing atmosphere. Whether it’s a time of day, a certain space, a certain mood or even a pair of funky looking socks, finding what inspires my writing has been key for me to be able to consistently write throughout my life. Find what gives you that motivation and inspires you, and let the words flow.
- Don’t force it. In the same vein as the first tip, if you do everything right and recreate what you’ve found to be your ideal writing atmosphere (for example tea in hand looking out at nature with your waffle and fried chicken socks) and it still doesn’t work, don’t be discouraged. Don’t be upset if in that moment what has worked in the past doesn’t inspire you. There are a million reasons that what has motivated you in the past might not work in that moment, such as your train of thought or even something you ate for breakfast that isn’t sitting well. No matter the reason, don’t beat yourself up. It happens. We’re humans, not machines.
- Shake it up. If I’ve gone a long time and not been able to capture that same magic of my preferred writing atmosphere, I shake it up. I try to write somewhere else – usually the complete opposite of my usual spot: if I preferred a quiet home, I’d go to a bustling coffee shop. If I’m still stuck, I take a complete break. I take a walk or work on another project until I feel inspiration seep back into me.
- Use fresh eyes. I always get so caught up in writing something and reading it, re-reading it and editing it that I find it difficult to step back and be objective after a while in this repetitive cycle. So instead of trusting my own weary eyes, I rely heavily on other people to help me keep perspective. Don’t be afraid to show other people your work and listen to their suggestions. That’s how my best writing is created.
I hope my experience and these tips help you find your flow. Happy writing!