How To Get Back To Writing When You Are Running Out Of Creative Juice
by Amar Vyas
Summary: In this post, I will describe how I got back into the writing mode after nearly a two year break. Today, I write nearly 4,000 words per day in the form of blog posts, and work towards completing my next novel.
A little over two years ago, I published my debut novel NRI: Now, Returned to India. I had planned out a four part series around the adventures of Amol Dixit, and things looked great. Then, this thing called LIFE happened. I took up a career opportunity with amazon, we moved to Bengaluru, and the disruptions to my writing began. My new job involved almost constant traveling. In fact, for the first nine months of 2015, I was in the office for a total of 12 days! Thats when I fell into the trap of not writing regularly, and began to use every possible excuse as my lifeline. The list of excuses included early morning travel, spending the whole day at construction sites, returning to the hotel room late at night. We’ve all used these excuses in some form or the other. And then there was social media. Every spare moment was spent on the likes of Facebook.
I left my job in December 2015 to start Kamakshi Media, my startup in the podcasting space. The first show we launched was MyKitaab, a podcast on Book Publishing in India**. As I began to speak to authors, publishers and entrepreneurs, the urge to start writing arose. Listening to some of the guests, about how they continue writing while managing a corporate career was inspiring. One guest, Chris Kennedy, for example, used the following logic:
“Write 500 words a day, which makes it over 1,80,000 words per year. That is nearly three novels worth of writing.”
I was sold. To ramp up my creativity, I used the following tools to get back into the writing groove.
**Kiran has been a past guest on the show, you can listen to her fascinating interview here.
- Daily Writing Prompts
There are several sites that post a daily writing prompt. The Daily Post has a compilation of prompts that can keep you going for the entire year. I used it for nearly three months, and found it quite useful. A simple google search reveals many such sites, you can check out a few and see which suits to your tastes. Pinterest also has a board on daily journal prompts.
Tip: Schedule the writing posts in Google Calendar or any other calendar so that you get the prompt delivered to you, without you having to search for the prompt of the day.
This site has a Twitter account which posts daily writing prompts. I like this site for two reasons: First of all, they use images and ask you to write the opening lines of a story based on the image. I am a visual person, and I can write something up within minutes of seeing that picture. Secondly, the iAuthor folks are responsive. If they like your opening line, they will retweet it, which is a small ego boost.
Tip: Tablo also has a similar feature, you can choose and pick as per your tastes. This is a great way to create some followings and increase engagement on Twitter, which is becoming increasingly difficult of late.
Many authors call Facebook as a Time Suck, if not used effectively. I recently discovered how to use Facebook for creative purposes, courtesy Authors Publish. They publish an image everyday as well, but they want you to narrate a story in six words. That’s it. Great way to summarize your thoughts.
Tip:Read what others have posted or commented. That gives you a lot of food for thought.
- Blogging Challenges
Last month, I participated in the Problogger BloggingGroove Challenge. For seven days in a row, we had to write one blog post on a different theme. The themes ranged from writing a How To Guide, a review, a FAQ among other things. I had a blast participating in this challenge. You can read “What I learnt from the 7 Day Problogger Blogging Challenge.”
Tip: I used Microsoft Sway to prepare this post, and it was a lot of fun!
For peak performance, you need to be in top shape. Cricketers do net practice. They say, tennis player Steffi Graf used to practice for four hours every day. But the sports persons also spend a lot of time observing other players, particularly their competition. Authors should do the same, except that other authors are not your competition. Writers who want to develop a consistent writing habit should read, a lot. Particularly on the craft of writing, and also books that are in the same genre that they write. And these days, they must read about book marketing. I have a list of over 30 books that I plan to read before December 2017. That translates to one book every fortnight.
Tip:Author Joanna Penn reads 3 to 4 books every week! You can listen to her interview on MyKitaab Podcast about her reading and writing habits.
- Amitabh Bachchan
The man has been blogging everyday for the past 3071 days. That’s over 8 years and counting. If he can do it inspite of his busy schedule, so can you. There have been many days when I did not feel like writing. I simply went to his blog on Tumblr, read a couple of recent posts, and got back to writing.
Tip: Read only one or two posts, the blog posts are addicting, you might end up spending a lot of time reading them!
Translating it all into action:
I set aside an hour every morning for my writing, and another hour in the afternoon. During the rest of the day, I typically have a target of writing one or two blog posts, which I post on Medium or LinkedIn. I also meditate for about fifteen minutes every morning or afternoon, in order to recharge my brain cells (so to speak). It has helped me tremendously.
In case you are wondering what has not worked for me, the list is quite long, and I will mention only the top three here: Nanowrimo, Camp Nanowrimo, Writing Prompt Contests on FaceBook. Maybe that’s just me.
Since I botched my participation in Nanowrimo consistently, I plan to write a 60,000 word novel in November 2016. I am preparing for it mentally and physically. The meditation is super helpful, for mental makeup. But in case you are wondering where the physical part comes into picture, I use a standing desk. And standing for hours while typing away requires practice, which also includes reducing the weight that your knees have to support. That’s a conversation for a different day.
About Amar Vyas:
Amar is the Co-Founder of Kamakshi Media LLP. He describes himself as a husband, an author, a podcaster, and a dog lover. He is the host of Mykitaab, a Podcast on book publishing in India, and the creator of Baalgatha, a podcast of Children’s bedtime stories. He is the author of the Amol Dixit Series and nonfiction books including the soon to be published Social Media Alphabet for Authors. Amar is an alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He has spent over 13 years in Corporate roles in the United States and India and was associated with companies like Amazon and Schneider Electric.