What's Your Favorite Season for Writing?Oct 04, 2022
What’s your favorite season? For me, it’s fall. The sun breaks the horizon later in the morning. It casts long shadows in the afternoon. The breeze carries a new scent—possibly the combination of drying leaves and crab apples.
As subtle as these natural changes in the weather, they light me up internally. I feel a surge of creativity in the fall, and I feel inspired to write during this season more than any other time of the year.
If you’re serious about writing, you can’t afford to wait for the change of seasons to inspire you to write. Writers write all year long whether we feel like it or not! (See Tip #1 in my “7 Tips to Get Started Writing Your Life Story.”)
While I write year-round, I’ve learned how to capitalize on surges in creativity. Here are four ways to take advantage of a creative season:
1. Revisit Your “Why”
The passion and vision that propels you to start your memoir will NOT carry you across the finish line. You will need to refer back to your “why” many times to remind yourself why you wake up early or stay up late to write regularly.
Every month or so, it’s a good idea to revisit your reasons for writing your memoir. Reclaiming your “why” can add fuel to the fire you’re feeling during a creative surge.
If you’re stumped on how to write your “why,” here are a few ways to uncover it:
- Create a list of all the reasons that come to mind for why you want to write your life story. Capture all of the reasons—no one else will see your list. There’s no judgment and no shame, even if you worry that some of your reasons are self-serving or ego-driven. (Psst: There's nothing wrong with wanting to see your name in print.)
- After you’ve brainstormed a full list of reasons, sift through it and highlight the ones that capture the urgency and drive behind why you don’t want to pass from this life without having written your story.
- Once you’ve honed your “why,” have fun with it. Write it as a manifesto—a declaration of your purpose and your passion. This is your stake in the ground, the land you’re claiming as your own.
- Create your “why” into a work of art that you can keep in front of you.
2. Pay Yourself First—and Add Interest
My consumer education teacher in high school had a mantra: Always pay yourself first. She taught us how to open a savings account, and for every dollar we made, she advised us to put the first portion into our savings account to ensure that we’d build up a kitty of cash for the things that were most important to us. College. New clothes. A car.
I think of my writing time in the same way. When I schedule and show up for my writing time, I’m investing in myself and in reaching my writing goal. When I’m feeling hyper-energized to write, I up the ante and increase my word count or writing time. It’s like doubling up on a mortgage payment when I come into some extra money. Increasing my writing output helps maximize my productivity and bumps me closer to achieving my writing goals.
3. Be Ready to Capture Inspiration
In the fall, writing ideas flow effortlessly. I ask more “what if” questions. I see things in a fresh way. I keep a notepad and pen in my purse and by my bed. I have packs of Post-It Notes at my fingertips on my desk. I drop notes into an “Ideas” document. I send myself voice and text messages. I capture every ounce of inspiration even if I’m not ready to do something with the idea at that moment.
Get in the habit of jotting down ideas, snippets of dialogue, sparks of memories—all the things that serve as great fodder for your memoir.
4. Find Your Optimum Time of Day
Several years ago, I trained for my first marathon. I wasn’t a runner when I signed up for the marathon, so I spent months following a training plan to prepare for it.
I hated that plan. I hated the daily runs. I cursed under my breath at the start of every training run. But then something mysterious happened. Like an internal timer, my body started to send me signals that it wanted to run. It was as if the daily regimen had built an internal clock that my body started to count on.
To this day, even though I’m no longer running marathons, my body remembers that it should be running. It sends strong signals that it wants to get moving. It was the daily habit of exercise that developed this in me, not my love of running.
Cultivating a regular time for daily writing will create the same effect in your mind and body. For me, morning is the time my mind and body are ready to write. I like to write before anyone else is moving around in the house.
If morning’s not your prime time, what time of day is? For some, it’s mid-day when their brain is fully activated. For others, it’s late at night after the family’s tucked in bed and you finally have a moment of solitude.
Whatever your preference for time of day, the key is making a date with yourself and keeping it at that appointed time. Over time, your mind and body will come to expect and anticipate your writing time, the same way it does when you stay faithful to a workout routine.
5. Schedule a Writing Retreat
Another way to maximize a creative surge is to carve out extended time to focus on a specific project. This fall, I’ll spend three days away from home with two other writers. We’ll use our time to reconnect with each other, spend individual time on our writing, and give and get feedback from each other on our work. It’s a way to consolidate inspiration into a fixed period of time.
Granted, a writing get-away isn’t always possible. During the years when I was raising four sons and holding down a job, it wasn’t feasible time-wise or financially to steal away for a weekend.
A few years ago, I created a work-around. I scheduled a weekend for a stay-at-home writing retreat. I took some time beforehand to create an agenda, just like you’d receive if you went to a guided writing retreat. I built in timed segments for head-down writing, with breaks for walks and meals and snacks to help pace me to stay focused and productive during the intense work periods.
By the end of the weekend, I evaluated my progress, determined what my next steps needed to be, and scheduled my weekly writing time to keep up the momentum.
Breaking away mentally from my at-home routine so I could focus on my book project helped me make serious progress on my writing without breaking the bank or using up vacation time.
These are some of the tricks I've used to increase my writing productivity during creative surges. How about you? How do you maximize inspiration when it hits? Share your tips in the comments.
Want to learn a few more tips for getting started as a writer? Grab a copy of my free, "7 Tips to Get Started Writing Your Life Story."
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