Tag Archives: creativity

These Things Will Kill Your Creativity: Warning for Freelance Writers

creativity warning for freelance writers

Creativity can be a blessing and a curse. Riding the wave of inspiration can feel like the most glorious sensation in the world. However, when inspiration wanes and the work becomes more an exercise in brute force, it can be difficult to push on and continue being productive.

It’s not a secret that being a freelance writer requires something akin to a monk’s caliber of self-discipline. However, even the most disciplined writer is prone to moments of slacking. As writer John R. Perry describes in his book The Art of Procrastination, it’s possible to develop habits that will inspire you to work again by enhancing your mental stamina and imagination. On the other hand, there are some common habits that will only serve to deaden the senses and keep you even further from meeting your deadlines.

Here are some habits to avoid when you’re blocked:

1. Watching television

As American writer Gene Fowler once stated, “Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” With all that mental stress and concentration, it can be very tempting to turn off the brain for a while and turn on the television. Don’t do it.

There are enough studies that have proven that watching television lowers intellect, dulls the senses and even impairs the metabolic system. According to a study published by professors at Tohoku University in Japan, it’s even been held responsible for producing brain damage in children. So, come on, put the remote down. There’s nothing for you there.

2. Surfing the internet

In this age of digital technology, with constant status updates and tweets providing a never-ending source of news and entertainment, many writers (like George RR Martin and Zadie Smith) have opted to chop temptation off at the knees by writing on computers that have no access to the internet. Writing and staying motivated to write are hard enough tasks, without adding to it the task of self-monitoring your internet addiction. Take advice from the experts and get rid of the internet while you’re writing.

3. Don’t allow interruptions

Zadie Smith advises “Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.” And Susan Sontag claims, “One can never be alone enough to write.”

Whether you realize it or not, taking a phone call from a friend or spouse, replying to an email, or attending to your children all take you out of the mental space you’ve created for your writing. It’s hard enough to create that space in the first place. Harder still to get back in once you’ve left it for the noble task of scrolling down your Facebook newsfeed (see rule #2).

4. Clutter/Ritual

Clutter can be as much a temptation as the Internet. When you sit down to write and the mind starts to wander, it will find any excuse not to write, including cleaning up clutter. Before you know it, you may not only have cleaned up your study but set about defrosting the freezer or degreasing the floor under the stove (which hadn’t been done since you moved in). And there’s nothing wrong with that besides the timing and motivation for doing it which is to put off writing.

Many writers create a ritual where they prepare their space for work before sitting down to write: removing clutter, sharpening pencils, putting on some classical music. Find anything that works for you. Friedrich Schiller kept a drawer full of rotten apples that he claimed inspired him. Collette picked fleas off of her dog and hunted them around the room until she was inspired to write. Alexandre Dumas had a rigorous color-coded system where he wrote his poetry on yellow paper, fiction on blue paper, and articles on pink. Woody Allen used to write while standing up in the subway in New York. Whatever works.

5. Don’t be a perfectionist

As Anne Lamott puts it in not so mild terms, “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.” Everyone wants to do well and get it right. But perfectionism rarely leads to good work, and most often leads to the abandonment of potentially wonderful work. Just get the words out. You can change them later.

Don’t try so much to control the flow, otherwise you’ll end up strangling it completely. Every word you write is practice. By censoring and editing before there’s even something to censor or edit, you’re not only failing to write but depriving yourself of the practice you need to write well.

There you have humble advice of professional writers to get you creating and keep you creative. Use it well and good luck!

5 Persuasive Writing Techniques: Creative Confidence

Writing itself, whether fiction or otherwise, is a persuasive art. Right this moment you’re either being convinced or persuaded into moving onto the next sentence, or not. The persuasive ability of this informative web article is directly linked to the value you expect to receive.

You desire to be a more persuasive writer. You yearn to feel creative juices churn inside, and confident in your ability to lead readers from one sentence, subtitle or bullet-point to the next.

Persuasive Writing Techniques

Below are 5 persuasive writing techniques that will undoubtedly help you cover some ground.

Technique #1: Concentrate on Beginnings & Endings

The most persuasive parts of writing are typically located at the beginning and the end of things. Things like chapters, sections or lists. That initial 10%. Come in swinging and go out with a roar (of a dreadful whisper). Taking the liberty to illustrate this point, you’ll see that the first and last words of the sentences below are highlighted.

  • Analyze your writing bit by bit to see if there are words in the beginnings and endings which could be removed or replaced.
  • Jumpstart certain important sentences/parts with a more exciting word, one that asks the reader to become more mentally involved.
  • Strike the fine line between being imaginative and being absolutely to the point and direct.

Don’t go nuts with this technique. All that you need to do is make yourself more aware of how you begin and end your messages. You’ll start to build a connective framework that links things together in a more persuasive way.

Technique #2: Persuasion is Action

The vast majority of the decisions we make in our day to day lives are based on emotion. Actually, when you get right down to it, the lion’s share of all human culture is based on pure unrestrained imagination.

  • Remember that many of us are programmed to expect entertainment whenever we put our faces in front of a “screen.” People read using tablets, laptops, smartphones, iPods, desktops, eReaders etc. All the same things they use for entertainment.
  • To entertain the imagination your writing must move, act, travel, perform and do. The connective tissue and focus on beginnings and endings help you take the reader somewhere.
  • Make your writing travel. Go somewhere. Do something. Be something. Even if you’re just writing product descriptions for Cowboy hats. If you want to persuade people to buy that hat, take’em to a rodeo!

Technique #3: Re-envision Creativity as a Science

Professional web-based article writers have no clue what “writer’s block” even is. In the same way someone who’s never smoked in their lives has no conception of a “nic-fit.” Imagine pumping out 50 articles in one week at 500-800 words long…on 10 different subjects at least 3 weeks of every month.

In case you’re wondering, in that scenario we’re talking about 25,000 to 40,000 words a week, or roughly 100,000 words a month. We’re just ball-parking here. The idea is that “creativity” is more of a science than an art when you don’t have the luxury to sit around wasting time on some hypothetical “writer’s block” phenomenon.

  • Write first, ask questions later.
  • Study up on how to “Kill your darlings.”
  • Once “creativity” is no longer perceived as something you cannot control, it turns into a switch you can flip on or off at will.

Technique #4: Create Character of Your Ideal Reader Beforehand

This is a big one and it goes for most forms of sales, fiction and non-fiction writing. Before you compose something that’s meant to persuade, create three mental prototypes of your ideal reader.

  • Who exactly are you persuading and what exactly is it you want them to do, experience or feel?
  • Create a male and female version of your ideal reader, regardless of whether you’re writing about beer or bras.
  • This exercise in and of itself is going to make you 10% more persuasive even if you give it 3 minutes of thought before writing the first word.

Sounds simple, right? 90% of the writers who are, have been or ever will fail to do this.
They focus on why they’re writing, what they’re writing about and in general who they’re writing for. Many probably know what they want the reader to do, but they don’t REALLY try to become the reader.

Technique #5: Compose Mountains of Advertorial Copy

The question is this: if it takes roughly 10,000 hours of “practice” before we can claim to have mastered something, how much writing does it take? How much persuasive writing equals 10,000 hours of practice?

No one knows for sure, but let’s go back to that hypothetical article writer from before in our discussion. Would it be unreasonable to say that someone could claim to have mastered article writing if they wrote 10,000 of them? That’s a round estimate figure of 5-8 million words.

On, how many subjects? It boggles the mind. The point is that the #1 best way to become a prolific and profound persuasive writer is to start writing and don’t look back.

How do you manage to persuade the reader? Do you think these approaches could work for you? Let us know in comments!