This is a guest article by Richard Nolan. If you are interested in submitting a guest article of your own, be sure to read the guest article guidelines.
Many people tend to treat creative jobs as pure fun. And everything that a creative person does is always pure fun, and nothing serious, right?
Of course, wrong. Any successful writer will tell you that it is hard work that needs to be taken with all responsibility. So, if you want to keep – for instance – writing pure fun and entertainment, you should only do it for fun. You should keep it your little hobby and not expect it to ever become your full-time job. On the other hand, if you want to be a full-time writer, you must treat it with all seriousness.
Just like any other job, writing suggests a lot of rituals and habits. This is especially so when it comes to writing your first book – a very serious undertaking that cannot be taken lightly. These rituals do not only make your job not only easier but also more exciting and enjoyable. Here are some of them:
Picture yourself working productively
As a person of a creative trade, you should have a very rich and vivid imagination.
Moreover, your imagination affects your everyday life. In some way, it has power over you. Now, when you decide to write a certain piece (an essay, a chapter, your first book, etc.), you may sometimes notice that you are reluctant to begin writing. You will probably agree that you have been picturing yourself leaning over your keyboard and having a hard time finding what to write.
If so, then you have let your imagination stand in your way instead of helping you. You procrastinate because you have pictured yourself this way.
The good news is that you are still in charge of the process, and you can change it for the better simply by picturing yourself as a cornucopia of words. So, be encouraged to spend some time every day just sitting and imagining yourself being a prolific writer and being happy about it. It may seem silly to some, but just try it – and, rest assured, you will feel the effect.
Learn to manage your time
This may seem as a no-brainer, but we would like to go into a little more detail. No matter if you are working on a book to be published by a big publishing house or to write an eBook, it is still a big chunk of work. As such, it inspires procrastination.
So, it is up to you to discipline yourself into devoting a portion of your time to writing every single day. You get to define your norm yourself – it can be one hour or one thousand words per day.
If you have not yet made writing into your full-time job and you have to go to the office, you can wake up earlier and write in the morning. Even if you are not a morning person, you will still find that this dreamy state is perfect for creative writing.
Start a journal
Chances are that you can recall a case or two when an idea struck you, say, when you were doing your groceries, and you thought that you must write about it as soon as you get back to your computer. Yet, when you got to your computer, you could no longer remember what you wanted to write about! Wouldn’t it be awesome to store all your ideas in one place? It does not have to be an actual paper journal. It might as well be an app on your phone or a voice recorder – whatever works best for you.
Don’t judge yourself before you are finished
Each of us is our own worst critic (actually, this goes not only for writing.) As we write, we get extremely tempted to go on with evaluating our work and end up criticizing ourselves. This criticism, however, is seldom constructive, because we already did our best and cannot really offer anything better.
What you need to realize is that when you are writing – you are at the stage of writing, and the stages of proofreading and editing follow later. Correspondingly, the time to criticize and seek better solutions will come later. And now – just write!
Get rid of distractions
Writing is the kind of job that demands a lot of focus to be done right. So, when you sit down to write, you need to make sure that nothing distracts you. Let your family and friends know that you are not to be disturbed, switch off your cell phone and remove it out of sight, etc.
If you have to write on your cell phone, then check out FocusWriter. It is a writing app that also blocks notifications from all other apps once you open it, so you can just do your thing in peace without being distracted.
It is true that you cannot just grab inspiration by the neck and force it upon yourself, which is very unfortunate. You can, however, make yourself more open to inspiration. You can simply sit down and reflect upon your book: your initial ideas, the bits that you have already written, the things that have inspired you to go writing this in the first place, and things of the kind.
Don’t stop reading
It is not true to assume that once you have become a writer yourself, you no longer need to read what other people write.
To put it simply, you need to keep reading if you want to improve your writing.
Stay open to new experiences
Reading other authors is the only way to get new ideas. As we all know, inspiration is always elusive and unexpected. So, you can get new ideas from all kinds of experiences. Writing in a different genre, experimenting with free-writing, travelling, programming, etc… there are a lot of different things to try out.
The point of each of these habits is not to force yourself to write: creative writing is not an assembly line at a factory. The point is to keep writing because you enjoy it. You are more than welcome to try out any or all of our humble suggestions. As fellow writers, we also welcome you to share your writing-related habits and rituals!
About the author: Richard Nolan is a writer and a private tutor, sharing his experience in spheres of writing, blogging, entrepreneurship and psychology. Richard writes for numerous blogs and gives useful tips for bloggers and students. Currently, Richard works as a general blog editor for ProWritersCenter. Follow him on Twitter.