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How writing daily has helped my creativity (and nearly every other aspect of my life)

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you need to start a new project, but you don't know where to begin? Or have you already started your project, and everything is going well until you encounter the first obstacle? Regardless of the field you work in, you may experience a blockage that prevents you from making progress. In my profession, we refer to this as creative or artist's block. At this point, many people lose momentum, and their project falls apart.

Last year, I experienced a period of creative block. I found myself unable to tap into the wells of creativity that I had relied on in the past. This was particularly frustrating and anxiety-inducing as my income depends on my ability to focus my creativity on specific projects. It wasn't the first time I had encountered creative block, but it was especially challenging since I had recently moved to a new country and was starting a new business. To try and overcome this block, I turned to two of my favorite books on the creative process: Steven Pressfield's "The War of Art" and Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way". Both books suggest that daily writing exercises can help us break through creative blockages.

In Julia Cameron's book "The Artist's Way", there is an exercise known as "The Morning Pages". This is a daily practice where you write three pages of a stream of consciousness first thing in the morning. If you're not a writer, you might be wondering what to write about, let alone three pages. Initially, "The Morning Pages" were a challenge for me and it felt like a mountain I had to climb every morning. My mind struggled to find subjects to write about and often, the sessions would result in writing about the fact that I didn't know what to write about, which was okay. The primary goal of "The Morning Pages" is to dump all the thoughts in your mind onto paper, even if it's just repeating "All work and no play makes Chris a dull boy".

The act of writing three pages every morning is a small representation of the creative process. The concept of creative resistance is a major topic in Steven Pressfield's book, The War of Art. Creative resistance takes on many forms, but procrastination is the most prevalent. We tend to tell ourselves stories to delay the act of doing our work, regardless of our current state. We convince ourselves that we are not ready yet, we need to snack first, or we have to finish another task before we start. Eventually, we lose the moment, and another day goes by without us engaging with the project that we have been contemplating. Both Cameron and Pressfield emphasize that the creative process should be a habitual ritual, a task that requires our complete attention and intention.

After a month of writing my pages every morning, I noticed significant changes within myself. I no longer struggled to find things to write about. Instead, the pages became a platform where I could work out the challenges in my life and projects, and plan the direction I wanted to head towards. The inner critic or censor that I had been dealing with finally had a place to vent, and with nothing more to complain about, I was freed of some creative real estate in my mind. Writing also helped me get into a flow state for my creative work. When working creatively, one can spend hours trying to reach the desired flow state where the art comes naturally.

I discovered that aside from the creative benefits, doing Morning Pages also had some productivity benefits for me. I started waking up earlier every day to have enough time to complete my pages before starting work. This daily habit became something I looked forward to, as it gave me time for meditation and self-reflection. As a parent with young children and having to work from home, finding time to concentrate on my work was always a challenge. Doing Morning Pages became my way of warming up to transition into my work block, where I would focus and do Deep Work. The discipline of doing the pages every morning has helped me realize the importance of showing up and doing the work, regardless of my mood. This newfound sense of discipline has also flowed over into my attitude towards working out, greatly improving the frequency and intensity of my workouts at the gym.

Introducing a small habit into your life can have a profound impact on the rest of your life. The sum of all your habits, whether positive or negative, defines who you are. Your ability to introduce new and positive habits into your life can help you break free from your current mold. Writing can be an overlooked tool that affects almost every aspect of our lives, regardless of whether we are painters, bakers, or entrepreneurs. Writing is not only a means of expression or communication, but it is also a tool for persuasion and the transfer of knowledge. In today's world of digital content, my generation tends to overlook writing and reading as relics of the past. However, writing is still crucial as it forms the scripts for the videos we watch, the copy for the websites we visit, and the short-form Instagram captions and tweets we read.

The following two books, Julia Cameron’s "The Artist’s Way" and Steven Pressfield’s "The War of Art," are great recommendations for those who are facing creative blocks. Even if you don't consider yourself a creative person, I would recommend "The War of Art" to help you tackle procrastination and resistance in your work. You can check out my book recommendation list, which includes these two books and many more, by clicking here. If you need writing services for your brand or company, please feel free to contact me via my contact page.


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