I can't write in the morning and other lies we tell ourselves...

How to keep your creative process fluid and fun

Today, I have one big idea for you. It’s a question to sit with for the next week:

What are you telling yourself about your creative process?

I’ve told myself a lot of things over the years. I’ve told myself what kind of writer I am, what kind of things I write, and what kind of things I don’t write. I’ve told myself I’m a writer first and foremost, so it’s a waste to focus on other artistic skills or disciplines.

And time and again I’ve proven myself wrong.

I was recently talking with a client who said it’s hard to write on the road. Now, I hear what he’s saying—travel can disrupt our regular routines, especially work travel. But I also have found that movement can stimulate my creativity, snap me out of ruts, and send me down unexpected new paths.

When I’m traveling it’s much harder for me to, say, sit down at my computer for hours and hit my 1000 words a day. And so, I treat any words amassed during trips as icing on the cake. But I don’t drop my relationship to whatever I’m working on—I still show up for it, even if only for a few minutes a day.

I suggested to my client that instead of feeling pressure to have the on-the-road process look exactly like the at-home process, to just commit to spending a little time each day with the project.

  • A five-minute walk just thinking about some idea, subject, or time period.

  • Ten minutes writing longhand at the end of the day.

  • A special notebook or notes file to capture unformed ideas, memories, or anything else you don’t want to lose. (I then turn to this notebook when I have plenty of time but need some sort of writing prompt.)

This is what I do to keep my creative process fluid, consistent, and fun. It’s what I do to honor the work I’m passionate about even when life is pulling me in a number of different directions.

That’s not to say I don’t still catch myself making bold declarations about my work and my process ALL THE TIME. Sometimes these declarations help me create rituals and routines that really work. Other times, they’ve stopped me from finishing things or from going somewhere scary but exciting.

Whenever you catch yourself speaking in absolutes about your process, take a step back and ask yourself “Is that really true?”

It might be, but it also really might not be.

Or it might be true for today, but not tomorrow.

Give yourself permission to contain multitudes!

A bit of news: I’m in the process of developing my first courses on creativity; publishing; and book writing, editing, and development!

I’ve been thinking about a lot of these ideas for over a decade now, but only very recently have they begun coming together into something resembling a methodology. Right now, I’m in the research phase, checking out different course-hosting platforms and approaches to course development. There is such a wealth of resources out there for this kind of independent publishing and education—and I am truly nerding out at the prospect of going back to school and taking you all with me.

I want to keep these courses focused and affordable, and my target audience is creative people who are getting more serious about their work and who would like some assistance developing processes and rituals. To give you a little hint, my first course is going to be about balancing your own personal creative goals with the demands of the outside world (including the DUN DUN DUNNNNN market).

If there’s anything you’d like to me to focus on, anything at all, please let me know.