When creative writing is your job, you’re always looking for creative solutions for everything.
How to maximize productivity, how to cultivate creativity, where to seek motivation, and even life applications – like how to outsmart your internal pity parties. It took me a bit to realize that the two (work related and personal) can help one another out. That’s likely because I did a lot of reading. And when I did, most of it seemed to center on discovering whether you’re a “morning” or “afternoon” person. I’d see things like “morning’s better for creativity while you edit better in the afternoon.” Then, there’s the old trivia fact about how Charles Dickens rose at the ass-crack of dawn and was done by 2:00, while Bobby Frost was rolling outta bed around noon and clocking in to the typewriter around the same time Charlie was wrapping shiz up. I think the takeaway’s meant to be “everybody has a different process”. But the problem with that is that – as a net writer – being creative (which they say to do at the top of the morning) and editing (which they say’s best at the end of the day) are equally important. So, for a while, I would kill myself to get hours of imaginative drafts done in the A.M., and then review and publish it later in the day. The result? I’d either sacrifice quality or quality of life. ‘cause I was doing so much in the morning that by the afternoon, I didn’t even want to look at anything I’d done earlier. And, in the midst of this emotional exhaustion, I just had trouble accepting there wasn’t a better way. It was time to apply my “creative solutions” to creativity generation itself.
Couldn’t I channel both my inner Charlie and Bobby?
(Spoiler alert. The answer is: yes.)
And here’s how.
What I’ve begun doing is splitting every day into two days.
Put another way, I’ve essentially begun tricking my brain by mimicking my morning ritual later in the day as well. Granted, quitting coffee helped a million to the forevereth power (no mid morning to afternoon comedown, crash, or neurostransmitter tsunami); but I’m not gonna say that’s necessary for everyone for sure (no way of knowing really – but I personally couldn’t moderate, what with mainlining a full pot in every day before the sun even rose). All’s I know is that my ritual since then’s worked for me. Which is this:
A.M. Wake around 6 A.M., do some yoga (and/or brief elliptical workout), shower, chug some water (and green tea), eat some fruit while reading something inspiring, and then write an article or two.
P.M: Then, around 11 or 12, I abandon my laptop, hit the yoga mat again quickly and I’m off for a run – just a half hour or so. I eat fruit on the way home, grab another shower, and then drag my digital work station off to Wegman’s upper floor, why I ply myself with more green tea and inspirational reads – and finally pump out another couple’ve articles thanks to their free wi-fi.
P.M. P.S.: Then, after that (around 5 or so), I shove another banana in my face, chug some water, head home, and do a brief jog again before dinner.
Why’s it work? Well, I dunno. Didn’t get my degree in that. But what I’m going with for now (based off my copious documentary watching) is this: what I’ve done (through that neural circuitry that gets reinforced), is tell my brain “Oh, here’s the lump-habit-ritual of fruit, green tea, and activity endorphins… that means work and workout come next.” So I’ve got this flow-motivation (flow-tivation?) going on, instead’a stopping to ruminate on what I should do next and how much and getting anxious in the process. The end result? Well, the activity-boost actually aids in the creativity, because the oxygen and endorphin flood open the brain cave right up to reveal all the glittering gems that nervousness normally hides. Also, it’s far rarer now that I’ll have the proclivity (or time) to get stuck in those negative thought-habits that generally depress me and launch hour long anxiety attacks.
‘xactly. ’cause I’m either creating endorphins or creating ideas. I have a job to do and a jog to look forward to right after. I think that latter thing – having the kinda cardio you genuinely look forward to doing (and delicious, healthy food as a prize for crossing the finish line) helps push the creative flow’s productivity. Makes you wanna stay on task and not lollygag. Any job can become a chore. But if you’ve got a reward on the other end of it, you can put a li’l more love, authenticity, and efficiency into it. In sum, fellow creators: You don’t have to buy the limiting belief system anyone tries to sell you. Even science.
Stretch your day. Be a Bobby and a Charlie.
Close that gap between your “best of times and worst of times” times of day.
‘cause you’ve got miles to go before you sleep, gurrrrl.