Writing 101: Can You Schedule Creativity?

I make to-do lists and write reminders for even the most mundane tasks. If I didn't, I wouldn't have electricity or any food to eat because I would forget to do it all. I have to put everything on my lists, and cross items off those lists, as each day progresses. I like to try and do things at the same time every day, so it's easier to maintain some sort of order. I've even caught myself putting "work on the book" on my list...and on those days, I get maybe one good paragraph written. 

You can't make yourself be creative. Storytelling isn't something that you can command at will. And I would know...because I've tried.

On My Watch

When you're an indie author, you're also a lot of other things. If you're like me, you've got a ton of things to do in any given day: drink copious amounts of coffee, exercise, clean, work, write, blog...spend lots of time on Twitter. If you work down a list to check all those items off, eventually it's going to be time to write. 

So, write! 

...Can you do it just because I tell you to? 

I force myself to write all the time (it's my job), but I can't force myself to write stories. Well...that's only true up to a point. Most writers can force themselves to write something, even if you're just typing mostly nonsense. But good writing is something that can't be forced. You can't make yourself creative. You know what it's like to be in the zone -- when it's all coming so fast that your fingers can't even keep up with the words pouring out of you. That's not a place that you can put yourself in intentionally.

I'm not a fan of scheduling writing time or setting daily goals, but I have always been an advocate of taking down time to relax and enjoying free time. Into this space, creativity will wander. You will naturally get that writing itch during your free time. You'll get the urge to write, and you'll have the time to follow it. And that's where you'll find the creative zone.

You can't schedule creativity...but you can open the door so creativity will walk through it.

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  1. Jade, I agree completely! Since I finished my past book I have been dragging myself to my PC most days (in between being a mum, doing my day job, exercise, housework, Twitter etc etc) and have been struggling, even though I think I have some pretty good ideas. Time and space are two things I have so little of, but need so badly - free time is definitely the key to creative success!!

  2. I have this terrible thing where I drive my husband insane because I have a notepad in every room, post-it pads everywhere--including every pocket of his and my own car. I carry them because in the middle of the grocery store, a conversation with the waitress, walking on the boardwalk or at a movie theater--I could be struck with dialogue, plot or setting. I know that inspiration is like a sunset. If you wait even a few minutes it will change or be gone.

    I generally write when I sit down to write. My problem is not the creative part but the fact that I get lost in the internet. I sit down to look at my email and that leads to Facebook which leads to CNN and that to blah, blah, blah. I need a coach. Someone who can sit on my shoulder and tell me to get my crap together and work. I'm 40 and need my mom.

  3. Thanks for your comments! I have the same problem as you, Ali. I get distracted so easily, I'll spend an hour looking up mundane information on Wikipedia when I should be editing. The notepads are a good idea! I'm permanently attached to my phone because I like to use it to keep my notes.