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.
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 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.
I’m not a journaler. I’m not good at it, and I feel like I never have enough time to sit down and write thoughtfully about my day. Usually, I prefer to spend my time on other things (like writing blog posts and stories. You know, stuff like that). Maybe you feel the same.
I’d read about the benefits of keeping a journal, and tried off and on to do it, but it never stuck. Then I stumbled across the concept of Bullet Journaling. I’ll be honest—at first this concept intimidated me. It looked overwhelmingly complicated, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep up with it. But I decided to give it a shot, and so far, I’m loving it—and I’ll tell you why.
If you’re like many creatives, you probably find yourself struggling with productivity. I know I do. Some days, it’s painfully difficult to get “into the zone” and start creating. And quite often, it’s not for lack of inspiration, but focus.
Maintaining focus is key to achieving the kind of productivity you strive for—and it’s something that’s become increasingly difficult in our distraction-plagued first world. I’ve already had to spend most of my morning fighting off Facebook and Instagram. If you’re anything like me, this is a daily struggle, and so I want to share a few tips I’ve been using to help enhance my focus.