Writing in the Buff

Do you write in the buff?

I know, it sounds personal. Let me rephrase that.

Do you write naturally? Do ideas flow freely? Or do you find yourself having to work hard to get your creativity going again?

I believe that “idea generation” is as simple as breathing. But due to busyness, stress, and a lack of confidence and knowledge, we have allowed the natural flow of ideas to be cut off.

Have you ever had an “aha moment” and wondered how you could have more? Ever tried to quantify and qualify how you come up with these ideas? What if there was a way that would help you get these breakthrough ideas naturally and almost effortlessly?

Today, I want to give you several tips that will help you do just that!

Finding your natural writing rhythm is your first step. For me, that is early in the morning and then again late at night.

How about you? Keep a mental note of when you are at your best and schedule that time to do your most creative work. There is an ebb and flow to creativity.

My “flow” is early morning and early afternoon. I tend to try to work my schedule around those times. I discovered this several years ago when I found that it was taking me twice as long to complete projects at times other than these.

Find your flow and go with it, don’t try to fight it. Remember, what works for you may not necessarily work for someone else. Hemingway reportedly wrote in the morning to avoid the heat. He didn’t stop until he had written 500 words. Truman Capote wrote while in bed with a typewriter propped up on his knees.

Then I want you to relax. I know that’s hard when deadlines are looming. But taking a day off or at least part of day from writing will allow you to be even more creative. Ever notice how your best solutions to a problem or challenge come when you aren’t actively thinking about it? For me, it’s usually in the shower where I don’t have a pen!

One time when walking through the mall, not even thinking about a talk I was in the midst of preparing, the main points struck me like lightning. I quickly grabbed an index card in my pocket and wrote down what came to me as fast as I could.

It is interesting to note that prior to that “moment,” I was having difficulty coming up with a communication strategy for that presentation. In that one instant while walking through the mall, it came to me with remarkable clarity. Taking time away allows your creativity to be rejuvenated.

Finally, when you write, write against the clock. Putting a time limit on your writing focuses you mentally and puts your mind into overdrive. I prefer writing in short bursts of 10 to 20 minutes.

When the timer goes off, I am astonished oftentimes at what I’ve done. Using time limits silences the inner critic and puts your mind on notice that you don’t have time to let things happen, but rather you intend to make them happen! It is not uncommon for me to produce the rough draft of a 20-minute speech during several “timed writing” sessions. Most important, what I come up with needs less editing because I have bypassed the “inner critic” and not given it time to tell me that “I can’t.”

We set appointments and time limits for all the important things in life – why not in our writing?

What is your natural writing rhythm? What do you do to get past the inner critic? I would love to hear your feedback and input below.

Writing is natural, and generating a ton of ideas is even more so. One of the best and fastest ways to generate ideas is through mind mapping. You can learn more about it here in my article “How to Become an Idea-Generating Machine – Part 2: Mind Mapping."

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Published: April 19, 2012

3 Responses to “Writing in the Buff”

  1. A songwriter's trick to this problem. Gag the editor by saying, “You’ll get a chance. I’m writing this piece now, then you can open it up as your own version and tear it up all you want; but for now? Shut your pie hole.”

    Seriously, telling yourself what you write in the moment is a possible keeper—though you know it probably isn’t in your heart, you give yourself the freedom to let the creator have his say without worry the editor is going to interrupt what he thinks needs to be a final copy.

    Brad Dunse

  2. My best writing times are in the morning just before everyone gets up, and when I come home late at night when every one's asleep. Sometimes I'll get these ideas and I write them down on the back of reciepts that people don't want, and I either stick them in my pockets to write later, or inside my journal if I happened to bring it with me that particular day. It sounds strange, but my best work and ideas happen when listening to others speak.


  3. Writing is a creative activity. Thus, no fixed formula can work here. The muse can elude your grasp just when you thought you had the genie in the bottle.

    The muse exits and enters. The muse has free will: she will resist being trapped. Your efforts will come down to zero. Struggle is futile. Just play the waiting game. Discipline can work, but only to a limited extent. After that, you will want to learn how to follow your muse. Let her lead you by the hand and be prepared to be surprised.

    Archan Mehta

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