Scribo-note: Megan Christopher has moved on from Scribophile to other pursuits. We’d like to thank her for all of the great posts she’s put up in the past few months. If you’d like to follow her other work, you can check out her blog at http://hollywoodjane.com.
We’d also like to introduce Kathryn Vercillo, the newest member of our Scribophile blogging team. She maintains a fascinating blog at http://kathrynvercillo.com/blog/, and is coming on board as a regular contributor. Join us in welcoming her!
My full-time job is to work as a freelance blogger for businesses. This means that I write hundreds of blog posts every month. The most common question that I get asked is how I manage to continue writing creatively when I work so frequently on posts for my job. It’s an important question for any full-time writer to address if she wants to continue to feel like writing is a creative outlet instead of just a career choice. I’ve managed to find a way to stay creative in my blog posts, the rest of my writing and my life in general by following a few simple tricks.
Staying Creative in Blog Posts
The first thing that I have to do in this line of work is to find a way to stay creative in the writing of my blog posts. Every freelance writer has to figure out how to write for clients in a way that is still engaging and interesting to read. It can be a really tough thing to do when you’re writing on a deadline (and often on a topic that you’re not truly passionate about). Here are some of the top things that you can do to stay creative in the writing that you do for clients:
• Research. I like getting really involved in the research for my posts. I’ll read magazine articles and interview people on the topic. I do this because it makes me more excited about the learning that I’m doing which in turns makes me capable of more creativity in the article.
• Discuss the topic online. I will also start conversations about the topic online while I’m working. Let’s say that I’m writing an article about cleaning out the refrigerator. That’s a pretty dull topic. But if I have a Twitter conversation or an IM chat going about it then I feel more engaged in the topic. I get fresher ideas and can be creative in the piece.
• Get input and ideas from clients. I consider myself to be a part of a team. I love the collaboration that goes on with team efforts. I think that allowing clients to be involved in choosing topics and ideas for their pieces helps inspire creativity because of the energy of the collaborative process.
• Infuse the topic with information from your other areas of interest. It is possible to take even the dullest topic and to get creative with it by adding in something that you’re passionate about. If you love saving money, living a green lifestyle or writing about relationships then find a way to include that in your other writing. For example, in my article about cleaning out the refrigerator, I might try to add some tips for doing it in an eco-friendly way or doing it frugally. This makes me feel more creative about the topic.
• Do varied work. Finally I think it’s important to try to do varied work when you write full-time. I try to choose clients and jobs that have different topics, styles and audiences. Going back and forth between projects helps to keep more creative at each of them.
Staying Creative Enough to Write Other Things
Most people who write for a living also dream of doing other writing. The blogger wants to write a book. The non-fiction book author wants to write a novel. The magazine writer dreams of doing travel pieces. The challenge for us as writers is to figure out how to maintain enough creative energy that we can explore these other writing dreams even while we write part-time or full-time for a living. It’s a tough thing to do but one that’s important if writing really matters to us. Some tips for staying creative enough to do your “fun writing” include:
• Have a daily routine. I have a routine that includes scheduled time for my “fun writing”. I commit to doing it and so it gets done. Scheduling in creativity sounds counterintuitive but it really does work.
• Learn to set boundaries for yourself. It’s important to learn to set boundaries. As a writer, you can write anytime. Create a schedule with some limitations about when you won’t work. This frees up your time for your creative writing pursuits.
• Write down your dreams and post them where you can see them. It’s important to remember why you’re writing. It’s not just to pay the bills. Reminding yourself of this will keep you committed to your creativity.
• Make friends with other writers who are in the same position. This allows you to discuss the problems that come up in trying to maintain your creativity. It also holds you accountable to others for working to realize your true writing dreams.
• Join groups and clubs that inspire you to write. You have to be inspired in order to be creative. Join book clubs and writing groups that encourage you in your creative writing.
• Take writing classes. A class is a nice structured way to get the support that you need to take your creative writing seriously.
Staying Creative in Daily Life
One of the things that I’ve discovered as a writer is that I sometimes have to express myself creatively in ways that are not related to my writing. Before I was a full-time writer, writing was my creative outlet. The fact of the matter is that today it is my job. It is not always going to be the thing that sustains me creatively. What I’ve discovered is that if I can bring other things into my life that are also creative then my writing benefits. Some of the things that I enjoy doing creatively which may help other writers include:
• Attending creative events and performances. Anyone’s whose done the creative workbook called The Artist’s Way is familiar with the concept of “refilling the well”. This basically means that we need to take in creative energy from other sources to feel inspired in our own creativity. I find creative events to be the most inspiring thing for me. I make time for everything from open mic poetry nights to trips to see Cirque du Soleil shows. I think this is important for me as a creative individual.
• Reading. Reading inspires my creative writing in so many ways. It “refills that well”. It shows me something to aspire to. It helps me to appreciate the power of words again which I sometimes neglect when writing full time.
• Collage art and book art. I like to do visual art. I also like for it to be linked with writing for me so I’ll do book art or text-based collage art that combines writing with visual expression.
• Cooking. I am just starting to learn to cook but I find that it’s a totally different kind of creativity than what I’m used to. This calms me and puts me in a better place to do my own creative writing.
Most of all, I think it is important that we stay in touch with ourselves regarding the topic of creativity.