Let me lay some groundwork for what I'm about to share today. First, this book single handedly has revolutionized writing for me. Read it. I promise it will not be a waste of your time or mental exercise. Second, habits are a funny, very personal thing. As I share a writer's habits every Monday in October, take what works for you, don't fuss or force what doesn't, and have fun exploring and experimenting with what 'habit' means for you personally. Got it? Great, let's dive in!
HABIT #1 - WHY WRITE
One of the more profound shifts in my writing occurred a few months back. As my former blog sat quiet for a handful of weeks this summer; behind the screen I was investing in the founding vision of Leia Bryn. I chose not to rush the creative process and allowed my mind to simmer in the options that lay before me.
Up until this point, my writing (which only existed on the pages of my blog) was visionless, but not void of worth. If not for that year of tinkering with different writing styles I would not have discovered my current writing style. But, if not for stepping back, I believe my time writing would have led to an inevitable burnout. Let me explain -- In the beginning of blogging, I had minimally written, mostly for school, sometimes for work, but never for many, let alone thousands of eyes to see. With blogging I swiftly fell trap to the mirage of voices already penetrating the internet. I forced myself into writing boxes I was never going to fit.
In the silence, during the moments I pressed paused on blogging to really evaluate writing, when I pulled out paper and pens, tucked away my technology, and simply wrote, it all became a great deal clearer. The "why write" question that had weighed on me for months was finally answered.
I want that for you. I want you to experience clarity. I want you to show up to write and not question why you're there.
So today, I invite you to participate in the first of four WRITING EXERCISES* that I'll share over the course of the next month. They each center around one or more parts of establishing a writer's habit.
- EXERCISE 1: Turn it off. What is your 'it' that distracts you when you write? What holds you back from fully expressing your latest story or copy? For myself, my 'it' became clear during a recent trip to Spain. This was a personal trip and I therefore declared technology free trip, leaving my laptop at home. This was also a personal trip in which I challenged myself to write each of the 10-days (I should share my writing up to this point solely existed in typed form). At some incredibly awful hour, mid-flight, fighting jetlag, my 'it' was defined. My 'it' was my computer; the internet, blog feeds, and social media. Each one, essential to blogging in some form or another, but in terms of writing they only existed to cloud and clutter. Sitting in the darkness of the plane, somewhere over the Atlantic, my overhead light shining onto my folding table, with my travel companions asleep on each side, my voice emerged. My writing for the first time in memory didn't feel forced, copied, or fake. It was authentic. It was honest. And it was an exhilarating moment (certainly not aiding with my jetlag at the time).
So what is your 'it"? What feeds you creatively and what drains the life right out of your creativity? Write it down. Then eliminate it (or reduce your consumption if not possible to fully eliminate) from your writing habit.
Today you'll find me writing more frequently on pen and paper before ever pressing power on my computer. It doesn't mean I'm always afforded the luxury to hand write first, but it's an exercise I have put to habit so much so that I can now open my computer to a clean slate and my voice does not elude me.
Form a habit that fuels your writing and creative abilities, not one that takes away. And begin today by defining your 'it' that needs to be turned off.
**I encourage you to walk through each of these exercises slowly. You have all week before I share a new exercise next Monday - let them simmer. The point here is not to finish first, but to finish with more clarity than when you started.