For the past few weeks I’d been feeling stalled out in my writing, tired of the “same old, same old” topics, tired of my patterns of thinking, reluctant to return to my current draft manuscript. Some days my energy was completely consumed by day-to-day tasks, with little left over for anything creative. All this to say I hadn’t written anything new for at least a month. To shake things up, I joined a free writing challenge, which invited me to write a 100-word story each day for 5 days. Each day had a theme, some pre-writing content, and suggested writing prompts. The rest was up to me.
I could hear my inner critic trying to talk me out of this challenge. “It’s online, that never works for you.” “You can’t attend in person for every session.” “You’ve never completed a challenge before, so why bother.” Ad nauseum. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you probably know that the inner critic gets louder when you’re close to something important, maybe even life-changing. So, I went ahead, joined the writing challenge, and participated every day. The sessions were recorded, so I could watch and write as time permitted. And surprisingly – to myself and my critic – I submitted a piece of writing every day for five days.
The Free Writing Challenge That Nourished My Creativity
Our challenge was to write a 100-word story – no more, no less – for each day. I learned a lot by taking part in this event. Perhaps the most inspiring spark for me was a reminder about the fun of Compression, that is, limiting the story I want to write into a specific number of words. It helped me to feel successful when I could start and complete a task in one sitting. Writing one hundred words allowed me to feel successful. Every. Day.
Having a firm structure of 100 words supported my creativity to come out and play. It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s true! I was able to let myself write without worrying about having to be perfect. Instead, I went with the flow of words that were emerging on the page. Having the limit of one hundred words felt similar to expressing myself in the 17 syllables of a haiku. I had to be very clear about what I wanted to say. One of my mentors calls that “single-pointed focus”.
Focus is important for any piece of writing, and I am now returning to my draft manuscript with this awareness in mind. I am learning to ask more questions of my writing. “What do I really want to say?” “How are these two things related?” “Why does this matter?” Coming out of the five-day writing challenge, my vision for what I’m working on has grown. The mosaic fragments are coming together with a larger theme, which will guide my writing and revision process.
I’m excited by new possibilities.
Staying in Creative Flow
Nourishing Creativity is an ongoing process. Choosing opportunities to learn more about the craft of writing is just as important as having time for creative ideas to emerge.
My reinvigorated creativity couldn’t come at a better time, since my 5-week series, Step Into Your Story started this week. I’m thrilled to be sharing a powerful writing process within the small group. It’s a constant feedback loop, since I am inspired by those who have said Yes to their creative dreams.
Together, we rise.