Adopting a Writing Mindset
Immersing yourself in a writing project changes the way you see the world around you.
Want to see the world like a poet? Try taking a class on writing poetry.
Some years back, I took a creative writing/poetry class in a continuing education program, to counter-balance my corporate writing work.
The weekly assignments kept me on my toes. Looking for inspiration, I started noticing unexpected connections, mood shifts, and undercurrents to find fodder for a poem.
Committing to write poetry inspired me to pay attention like a poet.
Something similar happens when I am absorbed in writing a book: I see its themes everywhere. (This is part of the immersion that I wrote about in this post on finding one’s pace.)
When you delve into a writing project (or any creative endeavor), it’s like acquiring a set of glasses you can use to see the world differently. That fresh perspective might be a healthy thing right now.
Summoning the writing mindset
If you read the news regularly, you may be ruminating on the state of the world, your personal finances, your relatives’ health, or the local economy. The pandemic may influence your thoughts. Metaphorically, you’re wearing pandemic glasses.
You need to balance those worries with something else, particularly if you aspire to creativity. A writing project is a great way to put on a different set of glasses.
Use writing to create another lens through which to see the world.
When you dive into a writing project, the subject infuses everything and changes your perspective.
If you love your topic, immersion is a joy.
This perspective shift happens most reliably when you commit to writing (or creating) on an ongoing basis. By making the ongoing commitment, you prime your attention to look for related content.
You can slip into a writing mindset with regular journalling. But without the commitment to an external audience, you may not be consistent enough to achieve the writer’s lens. Here are a few higher-stakes strategies to try:
- Work on a book: A large project will absorb your attention over a sustained period.
- Start blogging: Commit to publishing a blog post (or podcast, poem, whatever) every week. Make the commitment public and then try to live up to it.
- Get regular deadlines: Join an accountability group that requires you to submit work regularly. Or, sign up for a course (online for now) that gives you regular assignments.
Choose a rose-colored lens
The best thing about this strategy is that you can select the filter you are adding to your world. With that in mind, here’s one more thing to consider:
Focusing on the positive may open up your creativity.
When we experience fear and anxiety, our attention narrows. Fear tends to “freeze” us, damping creativity and linear, associative thinking.
No matter what your topic, first try the rose-colored glasses. Find a positive vision to work towards, rather than away from. For example:
- If you write about pandemic issues, look for stories about resilience and growth rather than the depths of the challenge.
- If you write about toxic workplace behavior, make your lens eliminating or reducing that behavior, so more people can find joy in work.
- If you write about environmental damage, focus on protecting or improving the environment.
If you want to change people’s behavior, you’re more likely to inspire action with positive visions than dire warnings. The upbeat outlook may make your writing more effective.
But mostly, do this for your own mental state. Looking for the positive future may inspire creative thought patterns. If nothing else, it will be a more pleasant way to spend your time.
Check out my post about finding a pace that brings immersion.
Read an excerpt about writing mindset from my book The Writer’s Process, on Jane Friedman’s blog.
Listen to (or read) my interview with Trista Harris about using a positive vision of the future to pull us forward.
If poetry caught your attention, check out this Writers.com article on finding an online poetry class.
Originally published at https://annejanzer.com on May 19, 2020.