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Although this year feels like it has been ripped out of a dystopian novel, have you managed (amongst the Netflix binges and copious amount of chocolate consumption) to keep up with your own writing? I know the time I carved out for my own writing and reading was knocked about by lockdown. With university moved to online, my commute reading/writing time was taken. With the closure of cafes or the move to takeaway only, my little table nestled in the corner where I could hear the chatter and gossip was taken. With the enforcement of isolation, my time in libraries, parks and other places that served inspiration or offered a quiet place to work were taken. Now times are changing again. Universities are starting to open their doors. Cafes are setting out their tables. Libraries are reopening. Parks are no longer chained shut. While everything is not back to ‘normal’ (and many people have pointed out the continuous repercussions that will follow us for years), I find I cannot get back into my usual routine. Many say (according to the trusty Internet) that it takes at least 10 days to form a new habit, so below I will list ten ways to motivate yourself to write post-lockdown:
- Change up the old routine!
While I would do a bit of writing and reading during my commute, I also scheduled at least 10 minutes every night to write. Instead of writing just before I go to sleep, I might change it up and try to write for 10 minutes in the morning.
- Find a new spot
Since my café is still only doing takeaway drinks, I need to find a new spot. Somewhere out of my comfort zone that I can sit down comfortably and write. Maybe it’s time to look at different cafes?
- Inspire yourself with a new blank book
Although I like to write on my laptop, I prefer to start my writing in a notebook. I think this gives me freedom to make mistakes, scratch things out and make a big old mess! To inspire yourself to write, buy that pretty blank book, or, like me, start writing in one of the many blank books you have but cannot bear to ruin with scribbles!
- Join a writing group
You don’t need to fork out a membership to a writing centre if you don’t want to, but you can join online groups. Have a look around Facebook or Twitter for groups that suit you.
- Treat yourself
When you are able to sit down and scribble away for ages, reward yourself! Buy that new book you wanted to read or gobble up a block of chocolate. We punish ourselves when we don’t follow through with writing, so why shouldn’t we reward ourselves when we are able to get the words onto the page?
- Invent writing exercises
You, like me, have probably exhausted a lot of writing exercises you’ve discovered online so why not make your own? Maybe even dabble in a bit of rewriting. Take a scene you love/hate/can’t forget and rewrite it. Play around with chapters or passages from books. See if it inspires something else entirely.
- Analyse your favourite book
What is it about your favourite book that you find so captivating? Is it the language, characters, setting? Critique the work and try to replicate the aspect you admire in your own work.
- Attempt a different writing style
Take a creative approach to your punctuation. Omit the speech marks and try italics or line spacing. Play with ways that the style of the page can communicate a different kind of meaning. Even messing with the font gradient in some lines could be interesting.
Instead of jumping into scribbling on the page, try saying aloud what you want to write. You don’t need to be scribbling it down at the same time, but allow yourself to play with the words while you speak, and then write it down. Read aloud again and play with the words. Initially speaking might liberate you from feeling like you can’t change what you first thought.
- Read, read, read
One of the oldest and most common pieces of advice I’m sure you’ve heard: read. Is a writer who does not read as sinful as a writer who does not write? I would consider both sins equally wrong. Reading is in no ways slacking off; allow yourself to enjoy reading. Try different genres if you’re in a bit of a slump! Pick up a genre you’ve never read before and are curious about. Similar to writing: reading is also about experimenting.
As a severe procrastinator at times, this post does seem a bit hypocritical; however, each item on this list I have (or will) attempt. Just because the world is changing doesn’t mean how or when you write needs to change, but I think I am going to embrace the change and see where it takes me. Happy writing!