Fanning The Flames of Your Writing

Bonfire_night_bonfire_268843_lIt's the state we all desire—that white-hot obsessiveness when we're madly throwing words on the page, totally at one with the moment, completely absorbed in our creativity. But sometimes it is not so easy to get to this state. Is it even possible to access on a regular basis? My answer is yes—but you may not want to. Read on to learn some ways to coddle and encourage your white-hot writing, as well as when to aim for it and when not.

1. Know That Creativity is a Cycle

Sometimes you're writing in that white-hot heat I described above and others you're in a more sedate mode. The quieter moments are no less valuable, they are just different. While it would be wonderful to write in a white-hot heat every time you sat down at the page, you'd also burn yourself out very quickly. So aim for the intense sessions part of the time, perhaps during rough draft writing.

2. Appreciate Where You Are

Each stage holds its own gifts. Rough draft work, where you're most apt to be transported away, encompasses the thrill of discovery. But other stages such as editing and rewriting allow you the joy of reshaping and honing your work. Each writing process offers its own rewards.

3. Stay Connected.

Utilize the concept of momentum to power your writing and you'll experience more white-hot states. Keep your Work-in-Progress uppermost in your mind. Work on it as often as possible. Re-read it often. Take notes about it and brainstorm in your journal writing. Keep your project file open on the computer and sneak over and write a few lines during the day.

4. Train Like An Athlete

Sleep, rest, meditate, exercise, eat well. Your brain and your body are your instruments when you're a writer, so take good care of them. It does you no good to stay up late in a white-hot writing session because you'll just crash and burn the next day. Aim for balance. (I know, I know. It can be a goal, a work in progress.)

5. Refill the Well

Yes, I know your creativity fills you up and energizes you. But when you're working on a long project, it also drains you. That inner creative well needs constant replenishing, just the way your body needs more water (and lots of it) every day. Refresh and renew your creative spirit by doing things you love, like taking a hike with your dog, or visiting an art gallery.

You're looking to make a creative life for the long run here, not just blazing progess on one project and then a huge collapse. These tips ought to help with that goal.

How do you refill your well?  How do you fan the flames of your WIP?  I'm all ears.

Photo by John-p.

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12 Responses to Fanning The Flames of Your Writing

  1. J.D. 08/16/2012 at 05:00 #

    How do I refill my well? In the past I have simply waited, with no plan. And many times my heart has been broken–things didn’t work out. Timing, execution, something was off. I blamed fate or whatever. I like this question: How do you refill? That’s different than waiting to be refilled.

  2. Don 08/16/2012 at 07:06 #

    Again, as always, excellent points Charlotte, but I would like to add just one more: visualization!

    In order to bring out the best in your writing, at least mine anyway, visualizing were you want to finish, or end, seems to be the very beginning first step in ‘flaming’ me onwards, no matter how hard the task may seem to be at the time.

  3. Charlotte Dixon 08/16/2012 at 08:06 #

    Oh yes, the hear broken by writing.  Been there.  And I do think that refilling the well so as to keep the flames burning (nice little mixed metaphor for you) can help prevent the collapse that comes with a broken heart.  At least, it makes it easier to pick yourself up and start writing again.

  4. Charlotte Dixon 08/16/2012 at 08:08 #

    Oooh, that's a really good one, Don, you're right.  It's also been proven that visualizing yourself in the process of writing is very effective at actually getting you to the page.  Thank you so much for this great addition!

  5. Suzanne C. Robertson 08/16/2012 at 11:48 #

    These are great tips, Charlotte. Especially, for me, to remember that creativity is a cycle and not to panic if greatness is not churning out. Of course for greatness, or even mediocre-ness, to churn out, one must actually get to the page/screen. Your #3, Stay Connected, is helpful in that way. If it’s on my mind I am more likely to hear it calling me to stop and jot. Visualizing, as Don said, is also really helpful. I don’t visualize where I want to finish so much as visualize me finding time to sit down and start. Sounds like a joke, but it’s true!

  6. Charlotte Dixon 08/16/2012 at 12:03 #

    Thanks, Suzanne, I'm glad it was helpful.  And yes, I need to remind myself all the time that creativity is a cycle and just because I'm in one aspect of it doesn't mean I can return to another stage soon.  And the way you visualize is the exact way that is actually proven to work, so keep at it!

  7. Sandra / Always Well Within 08/16/2012 at 18:59 #

    My flames seems to burn brightest when I first wake up and when I’m driving, but really the flow can come anytime. I just try to capture it as soon as possible and then let it go and return to it during a sedate time.

    I love the idea of “momentum”. That’s not as important for me when it comes to writing blog posts as they creative ideas just pop and the blog posts are short. But I feel how important momentum would be to a longer piece. Since I recently started writing one, I’m going to apply all of these ideas for momentum. Very valuable. Thanks!

  8. Charlotte Dixon 08/16/2012 at 21:25 #

    I've recently gotten back to writing first thing in the morning, after a brief hiatus, and its wonderful!  I come up with all kinds of ideas that I write in my journal, and then it becomes a precious book full of handwritten blog posts, thoughts on the novel, and completely random bits of life.  I love it.  And all of this contributes to momentum.

  9. Sandy 08/17/2012 at 08:52 #

    I love all your suggestions, Charlotte.
    There are a couple things I do to help myself get into the ‘groove’, as it were.
    I’ll change my writing location. If it’s not working stretched out on my couch, I’ll take my notebook outside (usually on a bright Saturday morning), or if possible I’ll go to a cafe for an hour.
    The other thing is research. If I’m feeling particularly uninspired, I’ll pick something from my WIP, whether it be setting, character quirk, or whatever. As long as I can read about it online, I can usually come up with some idea sparks and that gets me back to heated writing I love.
    I guess the overall theme of my comment is to get yourself out of your routine for a bit. Try something different. You’d be surprised how much energy new and different stimulai can give you.
    Cheers! :)

  10. Charlotte Dixon 08/17/2012 at 09:19 #

    Thanks for these great suggestions, Sandy.  I used to write in coffee shops a lot, haven't for awhile and it's probably time to try again.  At the moment I've taken up refuge in the family room, the one room with air conditioning.  And it is giving me a different outlook on things!

  11. Fear of Writing 08/17/2012 at 18:54 #

    My morning journaling time is the most major way I refill my well. But even that has its cycles. Sometimes I’m absolutely in love with my journaling time and sometimes it feels stale and pointless.

    A big one for me lately is learning to drop my expectations. I’m figuring out that holding expectations of what my writing session should be like can drain me so fast I end up feeling like the least creative person on the planet. I can’t say I’ve got that one nailed yet (far from it) . . . but it’s definitely got my attention. I hope I can figure out the trick to avoiding expectations, if that’s even humanly possible.

  12. Charlotte Dixon 08/17/2012 at 20:50 #

    Ooh, letting go of expectations is a good one!  Thanks for bringing it up.  And, I agree. Sometimes (like now) I adore my journaling.  And others, its just meh.  Weird.  The muse is weird.  But I love her for being so weird!

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