In May of this year, I decided to attempt to write a novel in a month. I knew it was a long way before November, but my story was demanding to be written—immediately. So I went for it, and I failed.
I know people who have won NaNoWriMo three times, four times; heck, some of them five times! Surely I could do it once. So on May 1st, I sat down to begin my one month noveling adventure, only for it to come screeching to a halt roughly around the 25k mark. However, despite not reaching the illustrious goal of 50,000 words, I don’t consider my NaNo experience a complete failure for two reasons.
We’ve all heard it proclaimed from Facebook to Instagram to Pinterest: “Hustle, hustle, hustle!” Pithy quotes from overly-ambitious bloggers tell you that “Good things come to those who hustle!” They warn you against “nibbling on mediocrity” because it’s better to choke on greatness.
Now before you write this off as an excuse to laze around in the comfort of mediocrity, let the record show: I believe in hard work. I’m all about dedication and achieving excellence. But this idea of hustle—of constant motion—has to go if we are to achieve anything beyond absolute burnout.
Writing is hard.
Staring at a blank page waiting for words to come is one of the most grueling and disheartening experiences. It’s maddening.
Of course, you already know that. You’re a writer. This is your job. The real question is—how do you overcome this mind-numbing roadblock and get productive?
Over the last few weeks, I’ve finally started dipping my toes back into the pool of writing fiction. I’m finally developing a story idea into a real book after more than a year of “absent creativity”—and at last, I had a revelation: my creativity hadn’t really been gone; it had merely been asleep, recharging.
When I was a teenager, my dream was to be a novelist. I would sit in my room at my desk for hours, plotting, writing, editing. The “life of a writer”–or what I imagined it to be–consumed me. This was all I ever wanted: for it to be me, my characters, and my world. And of course, one day, a best-selling novel. But things didn’t quite work out that way.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of bullet journaling, allow me to introduce you. I started my bullet journal back in April, and while I hit a rocky patch in June/July where I kind of fell off the bandwagon, I’ve really enjoyed it, and it’s an exercise I highly recommend for creatives.
If you’re anything like me, you probably struggle with keeping a journal. Even if you’re an obsessive planner and tracker, finding a method that suits you can be difficult. If you’re a creative, constantly submerged in new ideas and chasing squirrels, it can be especially hard to limit distractions and focus on your priorities. If this sounds like you, stick around; bullet journaling might just be your saving grace.
I’ve talked before about how incorporating minimalism into your lifestyle can help enhance your creativity. Plus, it can have a positive effect on your overall mental well-being. And who wouldn’t want that?
However, the concept of “minimalism”, as pertaining to lifestyle, is widely interpreted to be merely stylistic, and even frivolous. Quite the opposite of what true minimalists aim to achieve: freedom and mental clarity. So today, I want to dig a little deeper into what minimalism is—and more specifically—what it is not.
I’ve talked before about how creativity—the thirst of our souls for wonder and beauty—is a part of us all. It’s something we were born with; something we connect to in our innermost beings. The magic of imagination is not just the talent of a few, as we sometimes tell ourselves, but in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “[It is] the health of every man.”
Did you get that? Imagination is health. Health. And not just for those people we refer to as “creatives”, but for everyone. Something we often write off as a pastime or a mere hobby is actually critical to our mental wellbeing. And not only that—creativity is absolutely vital to personal development and growth for several reasons. When we neglect to foster it, we don’t mature.