Finished with exercises one & two? How did they go for you? Today's exercise is going to shift our focus off ourselves and ask us to look outwards. I feel it's important to state that while we're looking outwards, this is not an opportunity to copy others ideas, rather an opportunity to learn from others, be inspired to create by others, and then show up and develop work that is uniquely our own.
What made my Spanish experience so enlightening in my development as a writer comes down to three important guidelines for anyone developing a creative habit. First, I was writing daily, if not multiple times a day. Most of my writing was never published from this trip, but nevertheless I was putting pen to paper, not allowing the importance of practice and repitition to escape me on my trip. Second, and this may feel in conflict with my first point, but I stepped away from my writing to read. Reading both fiction and nonfiction works by the likes of Anne Lamott and Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I was reading for rest, but also with a keen eye for writing style, voice, imagery, and inspiration. And the final piece of the puzzle, I was strolling the Prada, soaking my feet in the shores of the Mediterranean, and very simply absorbing and learning another culture. I was learning from my surroundings, observing closely, and documenting as I went along.
Now lets begin applying these guidelines to your writing life and/or creative habit.
// Write Often. Repetition is a learning mechanism you've utilized since childhood. Remember learning handwriting, how to read, or memorizing your times tables? Each of those tasks required repetition and practice. Writing, or any creative habit for that matter, is no different. Consider having your own "31 Day Challenge" and set a goal to write every day for one month. Don't worry about posting or sharing this work with the public, but very simply, show up every day and write about whatever comes to mind. If you're able to start big with your goals, forget about setting a 31-day challenge and just start writing daily. Either way, the point is to write often. We cannot expect to grow as writers if we never put the time in to develop our craft and write.
// Read Often. Books are simply magical - as a writer you'll uncover an entirely new layer to reading. Reading with our 'writing lenses' on will reveal an author's unique writing style. You'll see first hand how to utilize punctuation, sentence structure, themes, and plots. Not sure where to start? I've shared my favorite books on writing/creative habits and books everyone should read at least once in their life.
// Learn from Others. We will all be forever learners. There will never be a point as a writer or creative that we can say "well, I have learned it all". As we develop as writers let's not forget the immense learning we have right under our nose. Your community no doubt is host to a writing workshop or two, other creatives may host a shared workspace you can join to receive feedback on your work and be fed creatively in a collaborative workspace, and there's entire networks devoted to helping you grow in your craft. It's also valuable to also branch outside of our creative trade and learn from individuals pursuing crafts far different than our own. Connect with a local artist for coffee, ask to shadow a craftsman for a day; many individuals love sharing what they do, who could you learn from this week?
What specific habits have helped you develop as a writer?