It can be tough to keep yourself in a creative state of mind, especially when the world offers so many distractions. Every day, there’s a new gadget to play with, a new TV show to watch, a new celebrity wedding. Plus, there are the distractions of personal life.
With so much going on, it can be hard to maintain a creative state of mind. Writers get stuck. If you’re feeling distracted and your ideas and enthusiasm for writing have dried up, consider taking a new approach.
Copying For Creativity
Of course, we don’t mean plagiarizing (that’s just gross and wrong!). We recommend choosing a passage word for word from a book or poem that you love and copying it into a favorite notebook. If possible, copy the passage by hand. Force yourself to copy slowly, to let the words sink in.
Set aside a few minutes a day for copying; even if you can’t write, you can embrace the feel of writing, the rhythms of words, the creative energy that comes from reading an inspiring passage.
You know Newton’s law stating that an object in motion stays in motion? Creativity can be like that. Ideas bring about more ideas. Writing brings about more writing.
So if you’ve stalled out, it may be time to get moving by copying a favorite passage into a notebook to get your creative juices flowing again.
Here’s another element of copying to consider: Try rewriting your favorite works in your own words. Review a favorite scene in a book or story, then close the book and put it away. Rework it in your own voice, in your own way.
You may find that just getting started leads to new ideas. And who knows? If you follow your muse off on a tangent, you may find yourself with a wholly new work ready to be shined up and submitted for publication.
NOTE: We at Writer’s Relief are NOT advocating plagiarism or literary theft. Any writing you submit to agents or literary journals must be entirely your own. If you copy a passage closely in any way, do so for private purposes only—in a journal or notebook.
And if you begin to rewrite a favorite scene to get your fingers tickling the keyboard, be sure that whatever you may submit from this practice exercise is wholly original and unique.
Memorization And Creativity
Finally, don’t discount the power of memorization. Carry your favorite passage or poem around in your pocket, and look at it throughout the day.
When you really live with and inhabit a passage over a period of time, your experience of it deepens—and so does your own capacity for strong writing and creative thinking.
There’s a reason teachers used to make students memorize poems back in the day (we’re not sure if they’re still doing that now—readers, let us know!). Memorizing a prose passage or poem not only builds memory skills, but it also increases creativity and interpretive powers as well.
Photo by Sarah Ross.