Creative Periods: The Moving Target of Peak Creative Energy
During this pandemic, I set a goal for myself to start a blog. I am proud to say that I achieved this goal. As I continue to develop content for my primary blog, I started this personal blog to continue practicing. Beyond just practice, I feel another benefit of a blog is the sense of ownership over my more fleeting words and thoughts. Instead of posting all my personal thoughts and opinions in posts on social media or Reddit, I can write, edit, and publish them here. My thoughts and opinions can live here on my blog, whereas content posted on other platforms can disappear at a moment's notice at the whims of the platform owners. For his reason I'm a big advocate for everyone having a blog. Anyway, that tangent aside, the thing I actually wanted to write about was my journey to starting my blog and how I harness the ever elusive “motivation”.
When to Write
I think I can safely say I am not a morning person. Unfortunately for me, all the advice I ever got about improving my productivity involved starting my day at the crack of dawn (or at least it felt that early). I am not going to sit here and say that that advice wasn't helpful. I got a new puppy in the summer of 2020, so I had to wake up much earlier than I normally would have. In fact, waking up earlier than I normally did, even by thirty minutes, definitely improved my productivity. However, that extra time and productivity was never spent writing. In fact, during that time, I was writing in the middle of the afternoon. I would have lunch, pour myself some coffee, and I'd write a good chunk of an article. Then I'd do something else and come back to my article in the late afternoons, early evenings. This routine worked very well for me for about two or three months. Now let's fast-forward to mid-December when I started writing again after a small break. From that point in time to the present, I write best in the evening, sometimes as late as 1:00am. What I've found is that it's important to remain flexible and stay in tune with when I felt my most creative. Taking the time to write whenever I felt the urge allowed me to capitalize on that fleeting motivation more effectively than brute forcing the process with regimented “writing time”.
Creating and Maintaining Momentum
I found that one of the most difficult parts of writing was creating momentum. For example, I would have an idea for a post in my head, but to sit down and write it was so daunting that it would never get done. In this case I wasn't able to go from idea to post because I couldn't create internal momentum to hash-out the details. To help create this momentum, I have a few tricks. First, I always have a notepad or notes app at hand to immediately write down ideas and details for posts when they come to me. Regardless of how relevant or fleshed-out these points are, writing something down felt like I was contributing to the greater piece I wanted to write. Another technique I use is to write in chunks and take small breaks in-between them. I found I could crunch out a solid 250 words before I needed to take a two-minute break. This process not only helped me write for a longer period of time, it also naturally divided my posts into easy-to-edit paragraphs for later on in the writing process. The important thing is to get your thoughts down on paper. Once the majority of your thoughts are written down, you'll spend most of your time editing. During the editing process you will refine your ideas and often times develop new ones. Let the editing process do the structural heavy-lifting. The most draining part of the writing process is the “creating” part. Give yourself as many advantages as you can and cut yourself some slack if you're not as consistent as you'd like to be.
Writing is Hard
Writing is hard. It's especially difficult when you want to produce something of high quality. I've found that the desire for perfection is a double-edged sword. While the end-product is often incredibly gratifying to publish, the road to publication is wrought with incomplete drafts and guilt. However, there are ways to help get you over the many hurdles you'll face on the path to publication. I sincerely hope the techniques I shared can help some of you push through the writing roadblocks confronting you.