As someone who writes as a form of self-expression, a busy schedule — one that includes college and the additional commitments that follow such as clubs and social gathering — has made it extremely difficult to find the time and the motivation to write freely. Because I did not write nearly as much as I wished these past twelve months, with the new year underway, I have already made efforts to find that spark again — changes that accommodate my on-the-go lifestyle. The following are strategies that I have discovered that can hopefully turn all my fellow creative writers out there into the prolific storytellers they once were.
1. Always have something to jot ideas down with you wherever you go.
Whether you’re bustling to class or headed to work, there are going to times when you witness situations and observe things that suddenly give birth to a theme, a fragment of a dialogue or a sample sentence or two with the potential to manifest into full stories. Having a mini notebook and pencil or even a mobile device with a "notes" app on hand can quickly cement these temporary bursts of creativity into words to prevent these precious gifts from being lost to the vast recesses of the mind, never to resurface. When it’s finally time to have a proper sit-down writing session, referring to a list of ideas will facilitate the writing process.
2. Never underestimate showers and waiting rooms as prime places where your mind produces the best content.
While bathrooms and office receptions may seem like very odd locations where a potential Pulitzer Prize winning piece can take form, it’s situations in which you let your mind aimlessly wander when it could so happen to unlock the gates of your creativity. Most of my best ideas came out of instances in which I just stood in the shower stall. Because no time is really lost as it occurs simultaneously with the activity on hand, with that handy-dandy notebook of yours, these thoughts can be saved for a rainy day.
3. Read, if not for pleasure, but for college courses, to find inspiration for your next story.
If you’re a college student like me, reading for fun is just as difficult as trying to write. Instead, what you’re probably doing is hunkering down with loads and loads of textbooks. As writing stems from the experiences of reading others’ work, a lot of inspiration can be gleaned from books assigned for classes. Despite that these works may seem dull and uninteresting in comparison to the sci-fi and fantasy books we love to read, themes that appear in these texts can contribute to your next story. As creative writing reflects many sociological, psychological, historical and biological issues and concepts, reading academic texts of these disciplines can help shape your story.
4. Set quotas such as a sentence a day or a paragraph a day — daily tasks of less time commitment but still productive.
If you have a clear vision of what you want to write but cannot see yourself investing a lot of time into immortalizing it on paper, setting up attainable writing goals daily can greatly ease your frustration of being an unproductive writer. This consistent writing schedule might be far more beneficial and fruitful to you than sporadic, lengthy writing periods. Writing an amount of your choosing right before bed, during lunch breaks or in between classes everyday will add up and before you know it, the story will be finished.
5. Take advantage of days off and vacations to have full writing sessions.
If daily quotas aren’t your type of writing style, capitalizing on weekends or vacations as optimal times to write will be far more of a productive use of your free time. When the day(s) has finally come when life seems to have slowed down, it’s on you to grab that notebook or mobile device with prompts in it and let your creative juices flowing. I’ve found these sessions very productive — once I get into the groove, I find it hard to make myself stop writing. With a weekend or break’s worth of creative writing, I come back to school feeling accomplished and more in-tune with who I am as a creator.
6. Remember not to write for the sake of writing — write content that is of significance, not just to check off a to-do list.
As the pressure to produce content increases in the midst of a busy schedule, it’s extremely important to not let your love of writing turn into a series of to-do lists. Writing stories that you aren’t really passionate about for the sake of having the semblance of productiveness can quickly make what brings you joy into one that brings you stress. At the end of the day, if you don’t feel like you’re writing as much as you expected, always keep in mind that quality over quantity is the number one rule. I would rather write one piece that I put my heart and soul into than ten sub-par pieces without much thought.
As we are a few weeks into the new year, I believe that it is our time to finally reconnect with what gives us happiness and fulfillment even if life tends to get into the way. With these tips, I hope that we can all rediscover this passion of ours to create beautiful and inspiring narratives that we can share with the world in the near future.
Lead Image Credit: Aaron Burden via Unsplash