As a writer, I try to discipline myself to do what I call “flow writing” every morning, at least fifteen minutes worth, just to get going and stifle the guilt of that darn blank page staring back at me. Think of it as daily calisthenics, the stretching and repetitive exercises that are so conducive to staying in shape and in good health. If I just write whatever for fifteen minutes, then I have some preliminary content that I can build on later in the day or week, when I devote myself to more serious writing.
This is reportedly how Ray Bradbury did it, and his output as a science-fiction writer was certainly prolific. Think about it. Mr. Bradbury wrote something, anything, for fifteen minutes every single day. After one week, he had seven morsels of inspiration that he could develop later into his stories and novels. After one month, that would be at least thirty morsels. Quite a tasty smorgasbord!
The key to truly creative flow writing is to unplug. Completely! Our world today is unfortunately bombarded by constant interruptions and distractions, which are the greatest sources of creative defeat. I’m having trouble getting my writing started and -- DING! -- my friend in the Bay Area sends me a text message. Or I’m finally underway with a really great idea and -- RING! -- there’s my friend in Chicago calling to see what I’m up to. Or I’m searching for a way to bring a story to a satisfying conclusion and -- BLING! -- there’s my sister on Messenger, making a provocative and insightful statement about the latest hogwash in Washington. It’s all fine and well to stay in touch with friends and relatives, but I need time for me. So now I turn off my phone when I’m trying to be creative.
In fact, turn EVERYTHING off! No television! Those constant ghostlike images of talking heads, sports action, or annoying commercials are like the bright and shiny objects that catch the attention of cunning magpies, who snatch at them and fly off to points of no return.
TURN IT OFF! And that means, especially, social media. Who cares what my “followers” think about my latest posts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? And with the phone off, that means I won’t be bombarded with news banners and distracting notifications of emails that often beckon me to respond immediately. Says who?
Yes, we are miraculously interconnected in the 21st century in ways our ancestors never dreamed possible. But at what price? If it distracts and stifles creativity, I say turn it off! Your soul will thank you.
Fifteen minutes of creative peace every day. Ahhhh...