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As the end of the year approaches, I’ve been thinking about the upcoming year and what I want most out of my creative life in 2020.
The New Year is a natural time to set goals and reevaluate priorities, and over the next month I plan to share some thoughts and resources to help foster a creative start to the new year.
I’d like to kick off by sharing a brand-new book with you: Build Your Best Writing Life by author and blogger Kristen Kieffer.
I stumbled across Kristen’s blog Well-Storied in a coffee shop one night while the gales of November raged at the windows. When I found Well-Storied, I was immediately hooked. I was at a point where I wanted to commit to honing my writing skills, and the blog seemed to address everything I was curious about.
Since that stormy night, it’s been my go-to resource for writing-related questions. So when I found out that Kristen was writing a book, I was thrilled to get an early copy.
Build Your Best Writing Life is centered on helping writers overcome resistance and create a regular and sustainable writing practice. In other words, it’s the perfect read for someone wanting to think a bit more seriously about their creative practices as the new year approaches.
While this book covers a wealth of topics related to the writing life, a few points stood out to me the most, and so I’d like to share my four favorites:
- A regular writing practice is essential for both progress and inspiration
I’m a bit of a psychology nerd, so I got pretty excited anytime Kristen addressed how the creative mind works. The insights on hard work and inspiration were a highlight of the book for me.
As someone who’s been writing for many years, I’ve long come to terms with the fact that inspiration is elusive and will never finish a novel for you; rather, it’s consistent hard work that will finish an ambitious project like writing a novel.
That being said, it was interesting to be presented with the idea that consistent hard work is imporant for inspiration, and thanks for our ever-working subconscious, new ideas are more likely to strike when you are habitually immersed in your work.
I’ve definitely experienced the phenomenon of inspiration suddenly making an appearance after I’ve decided to put in the work, as well as the difficulty of getting back into the groove of my story when I’ve taken a longer break. To have this phenomenon addressed was fascinating, and provides a compelling reason to get more consistent in my writing.
2. There is no one-size-fits-all writing routine
While Kristen is rightly adamant that hard work is essential for writing success, exactly how you do that varies per person.
In the chapter on creative work spaces, she talks about how to find the time and setting that works best for you to write. As she described her own writing setting and ritual, I couldn’t help but think of how cozy and motivating it sounded to write in the setting that she described.
While there will always be days where writing is just plain hard, I really believe in the power of positive motivators, and connecting my writing practice with places and spaces that bring joy helps not only with getting quality work done but wanting to get the work done in the first place.
3. Sometimes we need to retrain our brains to be creative
One of the most important things Kristen addresses in this book is how to take full advantage of your imagination by retraining your brain to become more creative, and how this can be done through embracing boredom.
In our modern world, we are so connected to limitless distractions that we struggle with moments of quiet, and immediately reach for our devices to fill the void with articles, videos, or social media.
Yet it’s precisely in that void that the mind does its creative work.
As a writer who also lives in close connection with wilderness, limiting the side effects of the modern world in order to live creatively is a subject I’m quite passionate about (and plan to write a lot more about this year).
I think it’s no wonder that people report feeling inspired or creative when out in nature: with no distractions and a wealth of sensory information to draw from, the mind is free to create whatever wild and magical things it wants. And I think we’d all be amazed at how much our minds can create when we’re not filling them with constant distractions.
Kristen’s suggestion to spend time entering a meditative state and growing comfortable with boredom is a powerful one, and the techniques and activities she provides are helpful for writers of all experience levels.
4. You are capable of completing difficult creative work
To me, the spirit of this book seems summed up in one of Kristen’s affirmations: I am capable of completing difficult creative work.
No matter what stage of the writing journey you’re on, the sheer amount of work to do and knowledge to gain can feel overwhelming and impossible. But with the right practice, it’s actually entirely possible.
Though I’ve touched on several ideas presented in the book, what I appreciated is not only the ideas but the actionable steps included to make the ideas work.
With each of her points, Kristen not only shows readers why building a sustainable writing practice is important, but how to do it. The end result leaves readers feeling knowledgeable, competent, and supported in their writing journey.
You are creative and capable. And there is a writing life that will work best for you. <3
Build Your Best Writing Life is chock full of tips, activities, and affirmations to help writers of all levels become the best writers they can be. The book is available on Amazon.
What are your creative goals for 2020? How can you better your writing practice this year?
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