Have you ever noticed when you are the most creative? Science tells us that it is that foggy time between sleeping and waking. According to Kevan Lee in his article, The Best Time to Write and Get Ideas – According to Science, “We know that the creative mind is an early riser and that the editing mind sleeps in.” Apparently it takes a lot of willpower to be consistent with writing routines and willpower is at its strongest early in the day. Well, that certainly explains why I’m more likely to work on revising in the afternoon. My willpower is beginning to slip and I no longer have the energy to face the blank page. There are times, however, at night, once everyone has dispersed and quiet descends on the house, that the Muse wakes up and pays me a visit. Keep reading and you’ll find out there is a reason for that as well.
If you read last week’s blog post, Oh the Places You’ll Go, you’ll recall that I mentioned Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages. These are three pages of stream-of-consciousness longhand writing that you complete before your feet even touch the floor in the morning. Julia Cameron is very clear, however, that these pages are not intended to be art. They are more to get rid of the clutter going through our minds, and to get rid of the negativity of the censor. I love that idea, but have to admit, it has never made it into my routine. I like to blame that on the two Shelties that pop up, clambering for breakfast the second I open my eyes. I swear that Pepper, the puppy, can hear eyelids opening!
If, like me, you can’t get the morning routine thing to work out for you, don’t give up on the free-writing all together. Maybe last thing at night when you crawl into bed you’ll enjoy letting your mind meander, writing down all kinds of thoughts that now have some room in your head to be heard. As it turns out, there is a good reason for why our creative juices begin to flow when the house is quiet. According to Rollo May, the number one habit of highly creative people is solitude. If you are always plugged in when you write, or you prefer to write in a coffee shop, you may want to try writing in silent solitude. Sometimes the Muse can’t be heard above the din.
So, what else can you do to give yourself a higher chance of success ? For athletes, being “in the zone” means that they have moved into that sweet spot where they are able to maximize their abilities resulting in peak performance. What does it mean for Creatives to be “in the zone?” When it comes to writing, you’ll have to find what works best for you. Here are a couple of tips I have learned along the way: 1. Make it a habit to write every day, if possible at the same time of day. Your brain clicks in much more quickly that it’s writing time if you are consistent. “In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either willpower or inspiration.” John Steinbeck 2. Don’t think about how much work is ahead or how you will accomplish it. Write something. Anything. Even if it is not good. Sometimes the best ideas will pop up out of the blue, in the midst of the drivel. If any of us thought about how much work was still ahead when we begin a long project like a novel, we would never write a word. “Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day; it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.” JohnSteinbeck, —From a letter to Robert Wallsten,
In your notebook, begin a section for lists. You can choose your own topic for the lists. Here are a few of my favourites to get you started:
- Things you know without asking
- Secrets you have been asked to keep
- Places you like to eat.
- Favourite moments
- Places you have been
- Recurring dreams
- In the back of the closet
- The taste of sorrow
Have fun with your notebook!