If you read my last (slightly doom-and-gloom) post, you might know that I’ve been struggling to motivate myself recently — to write, to work, to do most things (except to eat… I’m always ready to eat). Initially I was letting this get me down, but I’ve thought about it, and realised: if your brain doesn’t want to comply, sometimes you just need to let it be. But if it’s being too stubborn, sometimes there are ways to trick it.
Take writing, for example. Sometimes even the things that are supposed to be fun and enjoyable seem like chores. Yet most writers recommend writing everyday if you want to improve.
How can you do this if your brain is telling you to stay in bed until 2 p.m. to stare at the endless void that is the Internet?
Trick yourself into it. Write without letting your brain know you’re writing, in the following ways:
1. Post-it note stories
Forget filling a blank page, how about covering the surface of a post-it note first? I don’t know about you, but the prospect of an empty document or a fresh notebook page can be daunting, especially if I’m feeling empty of ideas. In comparison, a post-it note seems like a much more comfortable step to begin with.
Because it’s nothing official like putting pen to the perfect page of a new notebook, you can doodle, scribble, try whatever your heart desires. Maybe challenge yourself to tell a whole story within the limited space, or see if you can fill the note without saying anything at all. Doodle with your eyes closed and then tell the story around your drawing. If an idea begins to blossom, you can always advance to the next step: the revision card.
*Cue dramatic music* | Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
2. Tales of post-its past
If you’re having trouble even filling out a post-it note, worry not. Try taking a look at notes you’ve written before, whether those are reminders, shopping lists, whatever. Instead of starting from scratch, change one aspect of something you’ve previously written. Maybe your shopping list suddenly has dragon meat; or your reminder mysteriously instructs you to hire a fruit juggler. Take the story from there: what would happen next?
3. Flashier than flash fictions
Speaking of shopping lists and reminders, why not try a new format while you’re at it? Sometimes, the thought of starting a whole new chapter or an actual poem can be tiresome. Instead, give yourself some freedom. Forget the short stories and verse poetry.
Write a grocery list. Write an apology. Write a reminder, write a to-do list. These can be from fictional characters’ points of view, or how you imagine other people’s lists/letters/etc. to be. Experiment with a format you wouldn’t necessarily consider creative writing, and make it creative.
(Side note: if you enjoy reading stuff like this, try Feeling Sorry for Celia or Finding Cassie Crazy by Jaclyn Moriarty.)
4. Upgrade your room
But not in the way you think! Instead of giving it fresh coats of paint or new furniture, take your room and transform it into a world of its own. Creating new fictional worlds can be hard work, but you’ve got somewhere to start if you map it onto the geography of a place you know well.
Could that pile of laundry be a smoking volcano, threatening to ruin the lives of the
dust bunnies goblin civilisation under your bed? Could the cobwebs in the corner be the realm of the dust mite fairies, journeying to the cursed labyrinth that is your bed?
If you don’t feel like putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard), try the ol’ post-it note trick again. Label everything, colour co-ordinate, shift things around and add more ideas as you think of them. Now your whole room is your notebook (and, as a bonus, this might motivate you to get out of bed as well, if you need it).
Build your own micro-world | Photo by Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash
5. Go outside
I know, I know, big talk for someone who sometimes stays in bed until she absolutely can’t not pee any longer. (TMI? Sorry.)
But, whilst the surroundings of your room and the snazzy ~internets~ can hold plenty of inspiration, a change of scenery will help you freshen up, whilst also giving you the chance to write here and there without your brain actually realising you’re doing it.
Maybe visit that local museum and take some notes on their latest exhibit (this also counts as writing, of course). Or go to the park and make a scrapbook of plants from the perspective of a character. Scribble on the back of your bus ticket and see how much you can get written until you get to your destination. Or simply list what you see, and see if you can connect the dots into some sort of narrative.
Plus, actually going outside will also take you away from the madness of sitting at your desk and tearing your hair out in frustration (i.e. the traditional writing process).
And those are my five little tricks to write without feeling like you’re writing. Let me know if you have any tips of your own, or if any of these work for you!
Thanks for reading, and until next time.
Header photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.