What I learnt from forcing myself to write daily
A few months back, I started a self-imposed writing challenge because I felt stagnant in my writing and overall creativity.
Prior to the challenge, I was reading a book on writing, and even though it didn't inspire me, there were about 5 writing prompts at the end of each chapter with the instructions to choose one and write.
When I glanced through the first list, I ignored them all, turned the page and carried on reading instead. Same with the end of the next chapter. I didn't even stop to consider the prompts - I simply scanned through them for the sake of completion and moved on. After all, reading about writing is far easier than actually writing.
Noticing my inclination to read about writing rather than just do it, I decided to challenge myself to two weeks of daily writing, (journaling excluded) without complaining about the prompt, without only picking the easy ones, and without stopping to think about it before writing. I promised myself I would simply open the book that I was reading, pick a prompt from the end of the chapter, and get writing.
I noticed some pleasant changes in my writing and overall creativity from very early on in the process:
- I was forced to explore topics I would never normally write about. And it wasn't even that bad! It was like tasting a bacon and banana sandwich for the first time, thinking it would be awful, but then it turns out to be all right.
- I wrote then and there, for half an hour. No procrastinating, dawdling or making excuses. And it worked! It's possible to write on demand, without inspiration or even feeling like it.
- The more I wrote, the more I was able to write. (No great surprise there. We all know this is how it works, right?)
- Because of the nature of the challenge - sit down and write immediately on an unknown topic for half an hour - I remembered what it felt like to let go of control while writing. Just allowing the words to flow through me, without thinking too much about them. Yes, of course I wrote a whole lot of crap. But I also wrote some good stuff that can easily qualify as a first draft of something and be panelbeated into an acceptable piece of writing.
- I experienced what it felt like to write like a child once again. Just writing without a purpose - without worrying about whether anyone will like it or whether it makes sense. I simply wrote because writing is nice.
- I felt refreshed and invigorated after just a few days of persevering with the challenge. It was like caffeine for my inner writer.
- I fell in love with writing all over. Probably because I remembered what it felt like to write for pure pleasure, on topics that were very far removed from my normal range of comfort. Writing felt like playing again.
But the biggest benefit of all was....
being forced to go beyond my comfort zones. We all have our favourite topics to write about, but writing only in your comfort zone is like locking your writer in a cage and expecting it to produce creative wonders. You'll never know what you're capable of unless you challenge your inner writer and give it a good workout.
Your takeaway from this article
Challenging your writing muscles is the best thing you can do to invigorate your inner writer and fall in love with writing all over again. So why not start now? Give yourself half an hour to write about whatever (or whoever) you see in front of you right now (or the first person that pops into your mind's eye if you are alone). Ready? Set... Wait, click the link below first, and then come back.
Before you go:
Click here to receive my 21 Day Creative Prompt Challenge. For 3 weeks, you’ll receive a short illustrated prompt in your inbox. Use it to challenge your writing for a daily writers workout.
Now... ready? Set...Go!