Organized writers are some of the most productive creators out there. They also often struggle with their creativity – not because they aren’t creative, but because they’re so locked into a schedule that they never treat creative work like anything other than work.
Sometimes we end up stifling our creativity without even realizing it. Here are a few suggestions for letting loose a little bit – it’s good for you, I promise. I see you hyperventilating over there. Calm yourself.
Schedule “whatever” time
I just started doing this, and it’s amazing what happens when you block out time just for doing whatever you feel like doing. You literally just pull out your planner and pick three days out of the week – I like Monday/Wednesday/Friday for consistency. Choose one hour out of each of those days, preferably the same every time, and label it “whatever” time. The rule is, it’s not Netflix time or reading time or hang out with friends time. This is isolated time set aside specifically for creating whatever you want. You can write, you can take pictures – it doesn’t matter. Once I sketched and colored in a self-portrait. I’m a terrible artist. But it was the most fun hour I’d had that week – and I got to laugh at how bad it was. Everyone needs time to just create freely without having to worry about deadlines or doing something well.
Try not to work on the same thing two days in a row
This won’t apply to everyone or every situation, but I have this philosophy that if we work on the same thing too many days in a row, we’ll lose interest quicker. Let’s say you’re about to start writing a new novel. YOU’RE SO EXCITED!!! All you want to do for the next six months is work on it every day until it’s done. The problem is, about a week in, you’ve made a lot of progress … but you’re already sick of it. You’ve burned through all your anticipation. It’s not fun anymore. I’m not saying you should “starve” your creativity – but the longer you can draw out your motivation to work on that book, the more likely you are to actually follow through and actually finish it. I’d still stick with the three days per week rule.
Take weekends off
Some of you aren’t going to like this one, and I understand why. Especially when you work full-time, you often save weekends for your most productive writing sessions. But after almost a year of freelancing, I can tell you with confidence that working seven days a week – because technically, writing is still a form of work – will kill your energy and your creativity. If you need your weekend writing time, at least spend one day writing and the other taking a break. You need that break. You need to get away from your routine and do something else – something spontaneous. Take at least one if not two days every week to just exist. Your writing life will be much richer and more productive if you set it aside every once in awhile, go out into the world and experience new things.
Some days, you’re going to have to stick to a strict schedule and plan ahead or you’ll never get anything done. You can’t do this 24/7, though. You’re going to struggle so much more if you don’t give yourself some room to breathe. There’s productivity … and then there’s growth. If you want to grow, break away from the norm every now and then. If you have to schedule that time out, fine – but don’t neglect it. Your writing depends on your willingness to go off the grid every once in awhile.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.