Gen Con Recap #1: Structuring Life for Creativity


One of the best seminars I had attended during Gen Con 2016 was Structuring Life for Creativity, which was presented by Sandra Tayler. It is a subject that I think a lot of writers struggle with; after all, we are all busy. Sometimes, our creative selves and our writing take second fiddle to life’s craziness. I have struggled between work (where I write and edit all daylong), freelance editing, my own personal writing and editing, social life, and leisure. I had good practices in place throughout high school, college, and even working in retail. But recently in my adult life, I’ve been struggling to create, so Tayler’s presentation really struck a chord.

Since attending her session, I have been writing regularly again, except recently … but it is a secret project that taps into another creative side of myself. I walked away completely refreshed and want to share some of my key takeaways from Tayler’s seminar:

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Spice up your writing routine

Have the writing blues? Try a new location.

Have the writing blues? Try a new location.

Have you ever found yourself in a rut? One where the words just aren’t coming, and you are losing focus or interest in your project? I know I have! And during such times, I have often found getting the spark back is easier when I shake up my writing routine and try things out of my norm.

Try Visiting New Locales

Whether it is a new spot in your home or your favorite coffeehouse, sometimes removing yourself from your normal writing spot is enough to get writing juice flowing again. Not only does a new location remove distractions, it also stimulates your mind. While working on my final revisions, I would set aside Sundays to visit a local coffeehouse, The Electric Brew, in order to achieve focus. Just stepping outside of the norm was enough to drive my writing by preventing me from losing focus; after all, I was there for a purpose — besides, the coffee, tea and pastries.

The next idea comes from the NaNoWriMo community and is branch off going to a new location: write-ins. You gather a bunch of fellow writers, corral them at a location — more likely than not, a coffeehouse — and you write. The sound of clacking keyboards is so soothing and motivating as are the mini-conversations that crop up on occasion. Write-ins’ powers go beyond just setting the right mood; they also provide accessible go-to-help when you get stuck in a section since you can get opinions and advice from fellow writers who are on hand. This can also be done on a small scale with just a friend or two for the same effect.

Change That Track

Write to music? I know I do! When I start feeling stale, sometimes a switch in writing soundtracks is just enough for my mind to click with a scene. For the most part, I stick with instrumental CDs and movie soundtracks since I largely find songs with lyrics distracting; however, sometimes out of the blue, a weird song choice will get the juices flowing — “Baby Mine” sung by Alison Krauss doing a battle scene (Don’t ask, I don’t know why). It is definitely worth exploring song choices to set the mood of different scenes and chapters. Pandora and other similar online radio streamers are also good choices and can lead to some great artist/album finds.

Goad Yourself With Unique Tools

This is another idea from the NaNoWriMo community, namely glow sticks. The idea is that you activate the glow stick, and during that period of time until it burns out, you write like a mad person. Writers can also set challenges for themselves to write x-amount of words before the glow stick dies.

Candles are another option though more for setting a fun atmosphere — most candles take a long time to burn out — especially if your novel takes place in an era prior to electricity. Of course, some people’s eyes can’t handle this, so try this one at your own discretion!

Set writing atmosphere with candles

Set writing atmosphere with candles.

(Writer’s Note: Do you have another method that you use to spice up your writing routine? Share it in the comment section, I would love to hear your methods!)