1. Stick to your writing schedule. This forces you not to rely on inspiration. This keeps you disciplined. And this instills a blue-collar, working stiff, clocking in/clocking out mentality that MUST exist for the Muse to even consider stopping by.
The secret, according to my hero, Julia Cameron, is thinking of yourself as being “due at the page.” Same time. Every day. No matter what. Because a writer writes. Always. When are you do at the page each day?
2. Strengthen your ability to look at one thing and see something else. The foundation of creativity. The key to entrepreneurship. That’s the secret to writing. It’s called “Attribute Transferring,” which is the practice of picking out something that seems marvelously successful and ask yourself questions to find out what makes it that way.
I wrote a module called, Thank you for listening to your body that perfectly demonstrates this practice in action. Many writers do this, some writers recognize this, but almost NO writers practice getting better AT, or write ABOUT this idea like I do. I don’t mean to brag, but … well … ok … actually, I DO mean to brag about this. Cause I’m damn good at it. What attributes are you transferring?
3. There will be more. Try not to get frustrated with yourself if you walk away from three hours of writing with ONE measly sentence. It happens to me all the time. And the secret is to consider this capturing of “one true thing” a victory.
After all, sometimes you won’t even get that. In the words of Leonard Cohen, “You have to go to work everyday with the knowledge that you might not get it everyday.” So, just trust your resources that there will be more. That you will come back to that “one true thing” tomorrow, next week or next year, and round it out a little more.
Then a little more. Then a little more. And you’ll keep plugging away and thinking about that idea until some flesh comes onto those bones. And eventually, when your idea decides that it’s meaty enough, it will tell you. And you will be ready to share it with the world. Are you willing to spend half of your workday on one sentence?
4. Think on paper. Don’t just sit there mulling over things. Get your ass out of bed and go think on paper. Write it. Type it. Mind map it. Flip chart it. Whiteboard it. Doesn’t matter. The attempt to draw out an idea will automatically show up its weaknesses and complexities.
Thinking on paper will show you what’s wrong with your idea and lead you to a simple and obvious solution. What’s more, writing out your problems on paper and then drawing arrows between various elements will show you which problems result in other problems. Kind of hard to do that stuff in your head. Do you think in your head or on paper?
5. Toggle people’s brains. You do that with your questions. With your odd, unexpected juxtapositions of words. With your sentences and phrases that are so “out there” that they take people with them. As Ned Flanders once said, “Well sir, as far as melon ballers go, that’s a noodle scratcher!”
Hopefully, your readers are thinking that same idea. That you’ve rocked their worlds. Turned their brains upside down. Stretched their minds like a bar of Laffy Taffy, never quite returning to their original size. It’s part of the job description. How are you toggling people?
6. Watch yourself write. Because you weren’t looking for the formula of how you writing the first time, you need to go back and figure out what you did. What your thought processes, questions and assumptions were. That way you can perfect your process it and repeat it.
So, regularly back away from your creative journey and revisit the progression of your ideas. Here’s how:
(1) TRACK the experiences or moments that inspired your original idea
(2) THINK about the questions you asked yourself, didn’t ask yourself or should have asked yourself during the writing process
(3) NOTE each moment of resistance, how it made you feel and what steps you took to overcome it
(4) REVISIT tangible records of the progression of your idea.
Lay them all out in front of you and then travel back in time. See what comes up the second time. Perhaps a few new patterns will emerge. This process will teach you invaluable lessons about how you think, create and write. Are you stepping back from what you do to study what you do?
7. Write because you can’t (not) write. Not because of the money. Not because of the fame. Not because chicks dig writers. And not because you want to “have written.” Write because you have something that needs to be said.
Write because there is some lie you want to expose. Write because there is something you’ve gone through that people need to hear about and learn from. What must you write about or you shall die?
8. Write things that make no sense, then improve them. Remember: There will be more. Who cares if your first draft is completely wonky? What matters is that you write that “one true thing” down the moment it comes up. What matters is that you honor whatever surfaces.
And, what matters is that you trust your inner resources, having faith that the idea will make sense when you’re ready to learn it. Are you willing to write gibberish now for jackpots later?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
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HELLO, my name is Scott’s…
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