In this post, we give you 12 inspiring ideas to explore as a writer or artist in the new year – one for each month.
As the New Year dawns, you’re making New Year’s resolutions. Even if you don’t place much stock in resolutions, you probably do want to write more. Maybe you want to finish a novel or screenplay. Perhaps you want to start a journal – or simply be more creative.
We outline ways to reconnect to your inner artist and banish procrastination. We share some insightful non-fiction books that empower writers to foster new habits and set achievable deadlines.
We give practical tips and exercises to kick start your writing in these 12 inspiring ideas for writers.
12 Months, 12 Inspiring Ideas For Writers
Get Down And Dirty
Artist and author Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal is a wonderful and interactive way to break free of apathy or get out of a creative rut.
The warning at the start of the book is clear. During the process of the book, you will get dirty. You will also have fun. Be more creative. Daring. You’ll break the rules – and enjoy it.
In her blog, Wish Jar Tales, Smith shares how to start a Creativity Group. If you’re tired of the isolation Covid-19 has wrought, find a group of fellow writers and artists to meet with once a week.
Return To The Right Side
As a writer, you can boost your creativity by trying out another art form. Drawing is one way to ‘see’ the world around you differently. It also builds confidence.
Read Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. ‘In drawing you will delve deeply into the part of your mind too often obscured by the endless details of daily life,’ she says. ‘Drawing, pleasurable and rewarding though it is, is but a key to open the door to other goals.’
Try this. Teach yourself basic drawing skills through books and instructional videos. If you have the budget, start an art class. It’s a great place to meet other creative people.
Bully Those Deadlines
Give a writer enough time and they’ll talk themselves out of a task.
A typical interior monologue goes like this: ‘Is this idea any good? Don’t I need to do more research? Will readers relate to my characters? Is it time for a nap?’
If you’re writing against the clock, there is little room for self-doubt. A bit of pressure helps banish procrastination. It can have a galvanising effect on a writer.
Sign up for the writing challenges on Deadlines For Writers. At the end of the year, you will 12 short stories or poems, or 52 scenes for your novel. What’s more, you will become part of an active, kind and vibrant community of writers.
Discover Mia Joubert’s 5 Ways To Deal With Difficult Deadlines.
Reward Good Habits
James Clear’s Atomic Habits is a book that focuses on habits, decision-making and continuous personal improvement.
He suggests you make a habit irresistible. ‘It is the anticipation of a reward – not the fulfilment of it – that gets us to take action,’ Clear writes. ‘The greater the anticipation, the greater the dopamine spike.’ Dopamine, as we know, is the feel-good hormone.
After a writing session, reward yourself with a bubble bath or a FaceTime chat with a friend. It can even be a simple affirmation – ‘Well done, champ – you wrote for a full hour this morning!’
Our love of reading and stories led us to become writers. We forget this as we grow older and our lives become busier. There’s not enough time. It is not easy to focus.
This year, why not make time to read every day?
For some, it is about re-reading books we loved when we were younger or the classics. For others, it is the excitement of finding new authors and new voices.
It doesn’t matter what you read, just read consistently.
Stories feed us. Books teach us. Other writers inspire us. Trying to write without reading is like going to outer space without an oxygen suit.
If you’re pressed for time, listen to audio books or podcasts. The Fiction Podcast from the New Yorker is brilliant. Or sign up for Audible or Scribd.
Picture It – In Words
Productivity expert Edwin C. Bliss talks about how to make the future more rewarding. To do this, he suggests keeping a journal.
‘Write not just about where you are and how you got there,’ he says, ‘but about where you are headed and how you’ll get there.’ Focus your attention on the things you can do right now to make it happen.
Listen to the bestselling author’s book, Doing It Now.
Try this. Imagine your future as a town or village called Tomorrow. Close your eyes, see it in your imagination.
The charming bookshop represents the novels you will publish. The beautiful garden at the centre is your happiness. The red bicycles symbolise your commitment to keeping fit.
What else can you visualise?
We’re halfway through our 12 inspiring ideas for writers. Let’s look at six more.
Rituals, Not Rules
If you find rules inhibit your creativity, create a ritual instead. Here’s simple example: Instead of saying ‘I must write for an hour’, line up a playlist on your phone and use the songs as a ‘trigger’ to start writing.
In the blog Wake Up Writing, I suggest morning rituals that will help you build a writing routine. The blog includes great suggestions for rewards.
As American novelist Anne Lamott says: ‘Rituals are a good signal to your unconscious that it is time to kick in.’ Read Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Lamott’s engaging book has become a classic, filled with help for writers, young and old, new or experienced.
Have Fun While You Learn
Writing is hard work, but it is also fun work. You must find pleasure in it. While you’re experimenting and playing with words, you’re also practising your craft.
With Writers Write Workbooks, you can learn more about writing, develop a habit and have fun at the same time.
For example, Hooked on Writing challenges you to create a writing habit in 31 days. It encourages you to express yourself in your writing – to give an authentic voice to your experiences and insights. It also helps you to get into the routine of writing every day.
Try this. Write a scene about a character who finds an old typewriter at a charity shop. They buy it and when they get home discover that it is magical. The keys move, inky letters strike the soft white page. A story starts …
Now, write that first page.
Put It On The To-Do List
One of the things we tend to do is make excuses rather than make the time to write. Sometimes we don’t think we can squeeze writing into our busy schedules. This is especially true if writing is our hobby.
‘I needed to discover how to balance hard work with the magic of language,’ says Cassie Premo Steele in Hummingbird’s Journey from A Cup of Comfort for Writers.
‘How to push through each day with perseverance and discipline, and only occasionally give in to an outrageous urge or whim. I needed to learn how to integrate writing into my daily life.’
Writing can’t be something you’ll do later – after the kids have gone to bed or you finish a report for a boss.
Often the delay comes from a misplaced sense of guilt.
Ditch the guilt. Prioritise writing. Schedule it like any other appointment in your diary: yoga class, coffee with a friend, calling the dentist, or trying a new recipe.
Take Time Out
For some of us, writing can be all-consuming. It is important to take time out for self-care.
In the blog, 5 Unexpected Ways To Fuel A Story, I wrote how Joyce Carol Oates embraces running as a way nourish her imagination.
‘In running the mind flies with the body,’ she told The New York Times. ‘The mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in the rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms.’
If you enjoyed running, tennis or soccer as a kid, take it up again as an adult. If that is not possible, find other ways to relax. It could be a gentle walk in a park or museum, a weekend trip away, or a visit to a good friend.
Shake It Up!
Sometimes chaos is not a bad idea. Changing a routine, trying a different approach or doing the opposite can be more creative that rigid order and structure.
Every now and then, mix it up. Have chocolate for breakfast while watching cartoons on TV. Wear a ball gown as you write. Take a different route on the school run.
Take the day off. Go people watching at a café or park bench. Turn a corner of your writing room into a dance spot – try out new moves to a favourite song. Create a meditation corner in your bedroom.
Try this. Take the scene or story you’re writing. In mid-sentence, have a historical figure come through the door. It could be Muhammed Ali or Louis XIV, Cleopatra, or Gandhi.
What would they say or do?
Write, Fail, Write Some More
Be comfortable with failure. In fact, learn to embrace it. At Writers Write, we always say: You Have Permission To Write Badly. Print this on a sign and paste it up at your desk.
It is only through going down a blind alley that we came across a surprising destination. It is only when we fall that we see where we tripped. It’s OK to be disappointed. It’s not OK to give up.
Says David Bayles, co-author of Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking: ‘The seed of your next artwork lies embedded in the imperfections of your current work.’
The Last Word
I hope these 12 inspiring ideas for writers help you to kick off your creative year.
Good luck. Happy 2022!
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- What Is Imagination & Why Is It Important For Fiction Writing?
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