Looking for tips or best practices for stoking creativity
So, a little background, my profession is technical writing. I want to write a novel but I'm struggling a little with getting the creative side of my brain going. Technical writing seems to further inhibit my creativity with all its rules.
I'm looking into local writers' workshops but they're all full at the moment. In the meantime, I was wondering if anyone here has any advice for exercises or things I could do to stimulate my creativity and free my mind from all the rules of technical writing. Thoughts?
It might seem counter-intuitive because you want to get away from rules, but make some rules.
Personally I often find I'm more creative when I create arbitrary boundaries for myself. I don't often write but some examples of things I've done is give myself one hour to shoot 24 photos in a given location. Or make one thing from the scraps on my bench. Create a tasty and nutritious meal from what is in the cupboards (that one happens quite often!). You might try telling a story in 100 words, or in ten minutes, or writing a scene where all the characters only alliterate.
I think that when faced with being able to do anything at all, we can often feel paralysed by too many options. When a boundary is put up, however artificial, it gives us a space to think within, and paradoxically that can lead to achieving more.
I agree whole-heartedly with trying to work within rules you set for yourself. My musical creativity seems to have fallen off over the past few years (though it's gradually coming back!), and it's setting rules for myself that gets the juices flowing even if I don't use what I've come up with. For instance, writing a riff without using adjacent strings, or writing a 12-tone row. The rule can be totally arbitrary, and you can always throw away what you come up with if you don't like it. I tend to think of it as a warm-up that has the chance to yield interesting results.
If you don't mind me asking, where are you at now with your writing?
You can try vision boards on your story ideas. try opening Word and writing some simple Wikipedia-ish synopses that are easy to follow. Cannabis sativa is also famously known for stoking creativity, I personally like to smoke and listen to lo-fi beat channels or vaporwave on YouTube and just have a document open. You could also try bringing a notepad or laptop to a public place, library, cafe, etc.. I find the din of public noise helps a lot, it's almost like a form of meditation.
Put yourself in solitary confinement for 1-2 weeks. I can't smoke weed or drink much so this is my go-to. It's not healthy to do often, but good once or twice a year.
Might be more effective for extroverts because it makes them go a little nutty.
Going off of what everyone's said here, make sure to write every day. It doesn't matter if it's 100 words or 1000, or even 10, but write something, stretch goal something creative, every day. I didn't for a while because I was worried that I'd "use up" all my creativity, but the opposite is true. It's like priming the pump. I've actually fallen off the habit of writing every day and I haven't been writing as much otherwise either.
Would you agree that jotting down thoughts in Google Notes is an effective method? I ask because that's what I've been doing. I then add labels and colors to help categorize and organize them.
If that works for you, go for it! I personally use pen and paper, but that's because that's what works for me. I've also been blogging a bit more, but again, it's what keeps me writing every day. The medium really doesn't matter for when you're writing for yourself -- it's not like anyone else has to even read it! (Not that they won't, but that's also up to you.)
How do you categorize and organize your notes, by the way? That's my one problem with the notebook thing. There's no index.
I categorize my notes in Google Keep with labels, like "Dialogue", "Middle", and "End". This helps me find and compare related notes quickly. Plus, I don't feel any strong obligations to use them as part of my story if my mind changes, which is a lot.
Since you prefer to write with pen and paper, you could try using note cards. Basically the same thing, but you might want to switch to lead instead of ink so you can make edits along the way.
I'm leaning toward this method to because it's effective for kinesthetic learning.
I'm a bit envious that you're able to compile your notes in a notebook. Every time I try, my perfectionist nature kicks in and I feel like I have to finish what I started, even if it's just a note.
Notecards are a great idea! I actually even have a ton of 3x5 index cards on my desk, I'll start carrying them around with me.
I've been doing this thing in the new year where I try to fill a notebook (about 50 pages?) every month. So far I haven't quite got there, but last month was short, so that's my excuse :) It's very disorganized.
That sounds like fun! Is it just your thoughts or are you writing a story or?
Just my thoughts, sketches for poems, notes, I could put grocery lists in there, a diary, etc. Whatever. Anything and everything goes in there -- I'm thinking that if I keep it up I can have a kind of "record" of my life month-by-month which would be cool.
I do need to write a little comic story though, and that will be going in the notebook :)