Creative flow is not a secret place, but you do need to search for it in different places throughout your lifetime. Would you like to figure out how you can lure your creative flow so that you can write on demand? It is possible, but you won’t be able to get the answer from anyone but yourself. It requires that you try a variety of methods until you figure out what works best for you. And you might also find that different things work better at different times or places.
Writers do a lot of different things to get ready to write. Writing can be one of the highest forms of mental concentration, yet at the same time, it’s also as simple as tuning into your inner voice. But how can you hear that inner voice? Some writers need silence to lure their creative flow, while others listen to music.
Do you have a prewriting ritual?
Some writers do certain activities before writing. It helps them them get in the mood to write. They might eat, walk the dog, or take a shower. Whatever works best for you is what you should do. You really won’t know unless you try a variety of activities along with your writing. Some people wouldn’t think of sitting down to write unless they had a cup of hot coffee or tea on their desk.
Some people meditate before writing to clear their mind, while others use triggers such as reading to get words flowing. You could, for example take the first line of a poem written by someone else, write a poem based on that line and then go back and change the first line. There are many ways you can experiment to get yourself started. For example, have you ever tried doodling an outline before you started writing?
What about research?
Whether you’re writing song lyrics, a novel, a poem, or a blog post, your process might be the same. But for some writers, especially if something requires a lot of research, it’s essential to do the research in advance and track that time and activity separate from the actual writing process.
It’s vital to think about your topic and get your research done before you dive into the actual writing process. If there’s anything that will stop you from writing, it’s the uncertainty of what you want to write. The more you write about the things you love, the easier it is to get those thoughts down on paper or into your computer.
One great way to slow down your writing is to try to write while you’re doing research, or try to write while you’re editing. Both will stunt your creativity. Your creativity is more likely to flow when you’re letting the words flow from your mind to the paper. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing longhand or typing into a computer. It works either way.
Do you need to tidy up your writing space?
Some writers can write in the middle of chaotic offices stacked with books and papers, with a big ashtray full of cigar butts. Other writers need a tidy office so that they don’t have any visual distraction. Some writers like to face their desk toward a wall, while others prefer to look out a window. There is no right or wrong answer here. You just have to experiment to see what sparks your creative flow most.
If you have a messy office and it bothers you, consider closing your eyes while you write. This works if you’re using a keyboard, assuming you can type without looking at it. Or if you’re writing longhand, you might just keep your eyes on the page and try to avoid looking around. In fact if your normal workspace isn’t working that well for you, consider trying new places to write until you find environments that are more conducive to luring your creative flow. If you spend a lot of time writing at home, it’s worth taking the time to make sure that you love your workspace. Surround yourself with whatever it takes to spark your creative flow. If you do your best writing during your morning commute on the train, then there’s no need to make waves at home.
What about writer’s block?
If you feel stuck, try reading a book to get words flowing through your mind. Choose a book you love or one that sparks your creative flow in some way. By experimenting with different methods, you can certainly find routines that trigger your brain and body to lure your creative flow.
Some people say that they can’t write because they have writer’s block and they use it as an excuse to procrastinate. Keep in mind that your creative flow is always available to you. Imagine if you’re suddenly faced with a problem and you have to make a quick decision. You’re going to put your mind in action and do what you need to do. If you have that same sense of urgency about your writing, you’ll be surprised at how much you can do to captivate your creative flow. You have to have a sense of urgency about sharing your message.
When is the best time to write?
If someone asked if you were a morning or evening person, you’d be able to respond quickly with whichever one applies most to you. The majority of professional writers who are writing full time use daytime to write. But there are certainly lots of jokes and chapters and songs that have been written in the late hours of the evening.
You can write any time. In fact, some writers say they keep a journal by their bedside because sometimes they wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, or a remnant of a dream. Or maybe they wake up first thing in the morning when the alarm goes off ready to jot down foggy notes about an interrupted dream.
It’s all fodder to fuel your creativity. Some people who write early in the morning or late in the evening say that it works great for them because they’re still in a bit of a relaxed trance state where it’s easier to connect with their subconscious thoughts. And some people purposely induce a more relaxed state by reaching for a glass of wine or some other form of alcohol.
When is the best time to stop writing?
For longer pieces such as books, some writers strategically choose a stopping point such as at the end of a scene, so they can start the next day on the next scene, while others might want to stop in the middle of a scene, setting themselves up for the urge to get back to finishing the scene the next time they sit down to write. Their mind stays occupied with the scene until they get back to the page.
What’s the best way to avoid distractions?
Find a way to work around distractions. Writers who have kids at home tend to write early in the morning before the kids wake up or later in the evening after the kids are in bed. And some writers choose to get a babysitter so that they can stay focused on their writing. Distractions break your creative flow, cause frustration, and potentially even put stress on your relationships. It’s best to let your loved ones know that you’re going to make time to write separate from the quality time you want to spend with them.
Some writers choose to write outside their home, in coffee shops or libraries. Either will do. You just need to explore what works best for you.
What about food?
Some writers like to start writing after a meal, while others say that they feel too sluggish after eating. There might be certain foods you like while you’re writing, such as little chocolate treats. For the most part, writers tend to write after eating rather than trying to eat and write at the same time. Eating can, in fact, serve as a big distraction. You need to eat enough so that you have the mental fuel to write, but not so much that it makes you sluggish.
What’s the benefit of creative flow?
The creative connection is much more likely to happen when you feel the freedom to let the words flow. Creativity expands when you’re in your flow. In order for creativity to appear, writers need to find a way to make words flow, just as artists need to find a way to make images flow, and architects have to find a way to make lines flow as they develop blueprints. Your inner wisdom offers a new perspective.
Creative flow is the place where new connections are made. It’s where you have a chance to express your distinct self as a separate, yet connected human being. The very nature of being human is to be a human doing something. You can do what you’ve always done and you can follow what others are doing, but when you go into a state of creative flow to spark new ideas, and new ways, it’s an irresistible attraction for those who are searching for what you have to offer.
How does movement affect your creative flow?
If you feel stuck, consider going on a walk. The act of walking stimulates the mind with images and activities that spark ideas and allow your creativity to flow. The very act of walking is a means of taking your body through space and time to absorb the flow of life around you. It’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular ways that writers use to attract their creative flow.
Some writers do more practical tasks when they feel stuck. If you need a break from your writing, consider doing housekeeping chores that involve movement, such as vacuuming, mopping, sweeping or even scrubbing the shower. Not only will you be rewarded with a clean house, you’ll be able to keep processing your ideas while you take short breaks. This can be especially effective if having a clean home matters to you.
If you’re interested in more terrific tips on tapping into your creative flow, read Susan K. Perry’s book Writing In Flow.