Keeping the Writing Flame Alive

by Krishna on January 21, 2009

As of January 20th, I have written more posts than I did in the first five months of 2008, which shows how pitiful my blogging activity was. Last year was very chaotic for me on both the personal and professional level. Too many activities consumed too much time and attention. In addition, the unprecedented primary and general elections and the nosedive by the stock market were very distracting. My blog fatigue started around October 2007 and lasted a full five quarters. During this period, I was tempted to abandon my blogging entirely, but I forced myself to at least put out one essay per month, until I felt able to resume blogging regularly.tom sawyer

The lesson is that it is easy to do one-off items, but not recurring tasks. You have a task on a To-Do list. You do it. Tick off the checkmark and it is gone. Doing something regularly is much more challenging, particularly if it is not your full-time profession. You have to weave the habit into your daily life like brushing your teeth so that it becomes a habit. But creative work like writing is not like brushing your teeth: if you don’t have any ideas, the time you planned for the activity will come and go, and you will have nothing.

Darren Rowse has a few tips on getting over such blues:

  1. Focus on your long-term goals.
  2. Try and put the fun back into blogging.
  3. Plan your time.
  4. Connect and ask for support.
  5. Reach out to readers for inspiration.
  6. Exercise.
  7. Take the pressure off yourself.
  8. Unshackle yourself from your desk.

The whole point behind blogging, which sometimes we forget, is that it offers us an avenue to express our thoughts and ideas, and connecting us to those interested in those topics (even if they don’t necessarily agree with us). If you aren’t having enough fun writing about your thoughts, it has suddenly become a chore. As Mark Twain said,

Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it – namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement. There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign. [The Adventures of Tom Sawyer]

The role of exercise in creativity is not given enough credit. Getting more exercise helps in calming the body and clearing the mind. It is an illusion that staring at the monitor can automatically bestow ideas on the writer. A healthier writer makes for a better writer. And the time spent for exercise is gained back manifold by reducing the relaxation time required by the writer.

I have mostly tackled this subject from the point of writing. But it applies to any regular creative activity. If you want to produce consistent, regular output, Darren’s advice holds good. Keep going and keep producing.

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