I write every morning (or at least I have been recently), but that doesn’t always mean I have something compelling to write about. The last few days have been a struggle in this area. I sit down to write but don’t quite know what to say. Sometimes I even have a prompt from the days prior, but I just don’t feel like going any there.
On days like these, I first reflect on why I am writing every day in the first place. I ask myself so that I am not tempted to end the days writing session without a word on the page.
I write every day because it helps me think.
I write every day to practice the habit of writing.
I write every day because it makes me feel better, even on days when I end up just writing down a stream of thoughts.
Okay, I’ve convinced myself to stay with it for at least a few more minutes. Now how do I begin?
Without even knowing it, I have applied practices that I use when creating art and applied them to my writing routine. It’s no surprise that they work because writing itself is an art, and art is also a practice. The cadence of writing and creating art is similar.
It turns out that the approaches that help me past my mini art blocks, may also be the way to get past my mini writing blocks. Here are two approaches that work for me:
- Write about what is in front of you. Take this literally. Write about the goings-on outside the window of your writing studio. Today, my neighbors are cutting down a tree in their front yard that they planted when they moved in 40 years ago. They must be sad to see it go. Or, write down the thoughts that are at the front of your mind. Maybe your thoughts are swirling around and there isn’t much of a story to be told. That is okay! At least the process of writing them down will help clear your mind, and that is certainly worth doing. Maybe there’s an idea in there. You never know until you begin.
- Write about something easy. Write about something you know well, something you have thought about a lot, maybe even something you have written about before. For me, it’s often soil. I am constantly writing and rewriting about soils. It’s fun for me, and oftentimes, it’s also easy.
I apply both of these in my art practice pretty regularly. I mostly work with watercolor, but often play around with mixed media as well. Sometimes I will just create with what is in front of me. I might take a few scraps of paper and stickers and turn them into a collage. Or, I just doodle out my thoughts and feelings for the day.
Other times, I begin with something easy, like painting lines or dots. I learned this practice from my mom (also an artist). We have spent many hours in the studio painting dots. One dot at a time, we fill a page. It’s about the process of making dots, not the outcome, though the dot-filled pages do end up being quite mesmerizing. We call them bubble pages.
Once I have created something, whether it is words on a page or dots in a notebook, I have loosened up my creative muscles. Maybe (just maybe) I can get started on something else. If not, I just let it go for the day. Tomorrow is another opportunity to create. Consistency in the practice, not the outcome, is my goal.