Sometimes I struggle to give myself permission to write. I get so caught up in the idea that every snippet I write has to be part of something larger; that I can’t possibly try a new style because “It’s not something I do”. And the result is that I often get blocked because I’m so intimidated by the level of perfection I expect from myself.
Last weekend I had a wake-up call of the best sort. I attended a workshop organised by Spread the Word, aimed at revitalising your writing. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the day – and was somewhat apprehensive about ‘playing games’ – but, boy, was it a great way to spend a Saturday. The writing exercises we used, such as Word Cricket and using pictures as inspiration, really sparked my creativity in ways I never could have imagined. It’s amazing what you can do when you’re given free rein to write and no one will ever see it. I felt more free and yet more in control than I have in a long time.
I left that session with at least two pieces of writing that I could use in future – in fact one is likely to become a short story – while also feeling inspired and rejuvenated. I’ve learned a few tricks to try if I ever get blocked again, and it feels as if I’ve been given permission to create exactly what I like. In actual fact, I’ve given myself permission to do what I like; to leave projects half-finished if they’re not working; to start something new whenever I like. Most importantly I’ve returned to exploring shorter fiction, which is a blessed relief after writing two novels. I know I can write on demand and use different devices, such as pictures, to spark off my creativity. And if that work never sees the light of day, who cares? It’s all good practice stretching the writing muscles and preparing myself to launch back into my third novel.
The brain and creativity are indeed muscles and as such need regular use if they are to function properly. Writing is something that can and should by practised to improve, much the same as a gymnast or ice skater practises routines and tumbles to get better.
So, my aim for the next month – as well as cutting back on TV watching – is to practice my writing more. If I have to throw half of it away, who cares? I’ll have lots more developed ideas and short stories to work with and that can only be a good thing.
What methods do you use to rejuvenate tired writing? Do you have any tricks or writing exercises you use? Please share them below – I’d love to pick up some new ideas!