Just read. Yes, that’s it.
To write creative and insightful pieces, all you need is to read such pieces. Whether it is books or articles online, what you need to find is to find inspiration.
“I had a lot of inspiration yesterday, but cannot find any today!” you say?
Well, you actually still have some and simply cannot get your finger on it.
Inspiration is very hard to notice after all. Just because you’ve just watched a motivational video or read an article which invited you to act doesn’t mean you will actually follow up on those and start creating.
Inspiration is just the beginning
Of course, it is crucial for writing on any topic but is too often considered as the Holy Grail of creativity. I’ll just write something when the inspiration comes is a passive mindset which relies simply too much on luck.
There are days you cannot find the courage, no ideas come to mind or the few which do come don’t seem to merge into one common trail of thoughts which could go into an article.
Those days are obviously harder than other during which you just sit and sentences just fly out your fingers.
But where does the difference actually originate from? The connection of thoughts within your mind.
In his book “Hyperfocus”, author Chris Baley makes a difference between hyperfocus and scatterfocus.
[In Hyperfocus, you] keep one important, complex object of attention in your awareness as you work.
[On the other hand,] scattering your attention allows your creativity to flourish as you travel through time and connect what you’ve learn to what you’re doing or what you want to achieve.
In order to be efficient in a task, you need to hyperfocus on it. Keep your attention on one single thing. However, in order to be creative, you need to let go of your attention. It’s about “innatention”.
Scatterfocus is about letting go, allowing your mind to create connections which you wouldn’t be able to create willingly. Your mind starts figuring out how two (or more!) seemingly unrelated thoughts can merge together into one.
Writing is a focus activity in itself. You won’t be able to write anything of quality while in the middle of a conversation with someone. The reason behind this is the lack of concentration in the task.
However it is also a creative task as you will start with a blank page and need to fill it with words, all combined into a string that makes sense in the end despite the words having never been put in that exact order at that exact place before.
Using both types of focus?
As stated above, the main problem of a day without inspiration is the difficulty to combine thoughts into a pattern which would make for an interesting piece.
In such times, go take a walk or sit down in your living room without any distraction. Stop thinking about anything in particular and let your mind wander. The longer you can stretch this, the more connections your mind will have the time to create.
Don’t hesitate to jot down thoughts which pop up but as soon as it’s done, forget about what you just wrote and turn your attention back to the string of thoughts being created.
The more inspiration you have amassed in the past, the more potential connections can be created.
When I first thought of writing this article, I wanted to focus on inspiration in itself and it is only because I recently read Chris Baley’s book that I was able to make the connection in my mind on my way to the coffee shop where I write this.
Did I willingly find this by concentrating on it? Hell no! The moment the idea came was as I was looking at a man crossing the street. No connection here whatsoever and still, the link created appeared and I jotted it down to remember it now.
I believe focusing on inspiration is a common mistake of writers. After all, how do you expect to write something good if you can’t create consistent strings of thoughts?
But now, for the few who kept with me on this rambling, here’s an extra tip on how to make even better use of inspiring articles.
What’s so good about it?
Imagine you’ve just read a great article. How do you feel? What made it so inspiring? What’s that motivation for?
Keep that feeling. Focus on it. And now scatter it.
If you were inspired by something you just read, it means it somehow resonated with you. Whether it was because you learned something or it reinforced something you believed or any other reason, something clicked.
Scan the article, or maybe even 2 or 3, once more. What words really stood out this time? What did make these articles so good? Why did it resonate with you?
Find a few words in those, write them down on a piece of paper, and then do the exercise of letting your mind wander again. Try to hold on for 15 minutes or so (again jotting down a few thoughts that do pop up) and look at the connection between what you took from the articles and what you had in your mind.
New connections were made thanks to your mind having been triggered by said articles. Use those as starting points and find where to go from there. It may be just a start, but that’s all you’ll need now.
Sit down and let the hyperfocus start.