Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor. —Joseph Pilates
A few years ago, I injured my lower back. My physical therapist told me I would need to strengthen my core to relieve the pain and prevent future problems. She taught me a number of Pilates exercises that I still do regularly. When I skip my core-strengthening exercises, my back twinges.
Writing is no different. When I experience writer’s block, I know it is because I have skipped the practices that strengthen my writer’s core. When I succeed at writing, I know it is because I have attended to my core, and I am writing from my strengths. Here are the practices that I use to strengthen my writing core. Perhaps they will support you as well.
1. Reading. Successful writers read widely. Reading opens you up to new ideas, teaches you how to develop a story, and inspires you to write your own stories. Madeleine L’Engle got the nuggets of some of her best novel ideas by reading books on particle physics. Many mystery writers credit magazine or newspaper stories for providing the ideas behind the crime puzzles they craft. In the midst of writing my last book, I studied like a college student at night—reading up on my topic so that I would approach the blank page with more information.
2. Writing practice. Writing practice can be anything from dashing off your three morning pages to composing a daily haiku to doing a writing exercise. Writing practice differs from your daily writing work in that it is not necessarily designed to be productive. In other words, writing practice allows you time to write with the door shut. This is essential for building your writing muscles.
3. Walking. So much research exists on the connection between walking and our brains that any writer would be a fool not to take a daily walk. Walking drives oxygen to our brains and helps us to think better. Walking in nature will reset our directed attention span—something we need to write but that we deplete fairly easily during a typical day of writing or work. Finally, walking gives us time away from our desks to think and dream, time that every writer needs.
Now it’s your turn. The practices that strengthen and support you as a writer will be unique to you. You can discover your core practices by reflecting back on a successful writing experience. Ask yourself, “What practices made it possible to finish that project?” Once you have a list, commit to strengthening your writing core every single day!
Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is a certified professional coach, a popular speaker, and the author of ten books including, Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). Melander teaches professionals how to write fast, get published, establish credibility and navigate the new world of social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at http://www.writenowcoach.com and sign up to be a member of her Write Now! Mastermind class for professionals at http://www.writenowmastermind.com
Thanks for the great tips, Rochelle! Point number three is interesting--I actually get a lot of my writing ideas while I'm scurrying around cleaning the house! If you have any tips you find helpful, feel free to leave a comment!