By: Silas Weiner
Before you even begin
- Get inspired. Finding inspiration in other people’s work is one of the best ways to set yourself up for a good writing session. Pick up your favorite book, any text that is laying near you or even pull up an interesting article on your phone – and get lost in it. It will make you want to create your own masterpiece. And don’t worry! If you happen to read something that you don’t like, use it as drive to show yourself that you know how it’s really done.
- Don’t ask for perfection. Asking for perfection from the get go is not conducive to letting your best ideas flow. You’re just going to end up stifling your creative process. Free write, jot down notes, and do your best to get your ideas out onto the page. Tap into your interests, and don’t feel overburdened by the weight of perfection.
- Rewards, rewards, rewards. Setting up rewards is sure to keep you motivated to get your work done. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book so there’s not much to say, but I will warn you to make sure to strike a thoughtful balance. It can be tempting to reward yourself too often, but if you do, you defeat the purpose of having the system in place in the first place.
While you’re in the thick of it
- Literally getting your thoughts out of your head and into the air through conversation can be a game changer when you are up against a literary wall. Talk to a friend, your mom, or even your dog (well not your dog, because you need to discuss your work with someone who can respond, validate, and critique your ideas.) If all else fails, it’s 3am, and there is not a soul around to hear you out: talk to your computer. I know that might seem like a strange idea, but using the dictation function that comes with most laptops today can save your life when you need to talk it out.
- Switch it up. If you just can’t go any further, diverge from the path for a bit. Work on another assignment that you can bang out quickly and gain confidence from knowing that you’ve gotten something off of your plate. If you’re like: 911, help, I can’t stare at this damn screen any longer- then shut the laptop and step away from your desk. Now work on something that requires minimal brain power. Clean your room, call you mom, paint your nails; complete one small task and before you know it you’ll be back in your productive groove again.
When you’re at the end of your rope
- I know, I know, this is not what you want to hear. “But like, I need to keep working! It’s due in 3 hours! I don’t have time to take a break!” That’s you talking. But here is the unfortunate truth: At some point, you have to take care of yourself. You cannot be a good writer, thinker, or idea maker if you are hungry, sleep deprived, and your clothes smell like the stale vending machine cookies you ate four hours ago. I’m not telling you to give up, I’m telling you to recharge. Get up from your desk, talk to a friend, get some fresh air, take a shower, eat some food, drink coffee- just do something to show yourself love, and then sit your best self back down to keep writing. I guarantee what seemed insurmountable before will be done in no time. Lastly, don’t let anyone tell you the naps aren’t ok. Naps are very ok. Just make sure you wake up! 😉
I hope these tips help you on your way to literary greatness. Or just getting an A. That’s cool too.