Doesn’t it just drive you up the wall that you’ve read hundreds of blog posts and read nearly as many books on writing and creativity, and yet you’re still not making the progress you expected to make by now?
The impetus for my new book Inspired Writer: How to Create Magic with Your Words is that we are all different and that the majority of advice being offered online and in how-to books treats us as if we all learn and work in the same linear way.
But there’s a problem:
We’re not all the same and what works for one person might not work for another.
Write every day. They say.
I’ve advocated this advice. I’m sure you’ve heard it too (like, a million times), and tried it. For some of you, it’s been a godsend, and for others not so much. In fact, there are countless others who tried in vain to follow such advice and have consequently quit the craft because they lost their enthusiasm for it.
The biggest problem is that how-to-write clichés, such as: write every day, write more concisely, and, let us not forget the classic, avoid clichés, have been turned into de facto “do’s” and “don’ts” bloggers and non-fiction book how-to advice givers offer repeatedly.
It’s so much easier to tell you to write every day when you expect this advice and hold it in the highest esteem. I could give an hour’s speech on the benefits of writing every day and get tons of ooh’s and aah’s from the audience, as if they were hearing it for the very first time.
But writing every day might not be for you. If that’s the case and you take this advice as gospel and can’t hold to it, you may start to get angry with yourself. And the more you can’t hold to it, the worse you will feel until you’re chastising yourself more than you’re writing.
Here’s the thing – we’re not copy machines.
It is true that repetition is very important to improve in any endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be daily and you don’t have to strive to be the next Shakespeare. In fact, striving to be anyone else other than who you are could be detrimental to your work and your self-esteem.
This doesn’t only apply to writing. Standardized methods stem from factories and school systems, which in turn stem from Henry Ford’s creation of the assembly line. The assembly line started the idea that everything could be done repeatedly in an identical way and eventually this led to a host of standardized ways of doing things, to include learning and working, and yes, even writing.
Standardizations are great for linear thinkers who want to get from point A to point B as efficiently as possible, and not so good for everyone else. And that’s why so many artists beat themselves up when they read the typical how-to advice that suggests linear ways of doing things and end up stuck and blaming themselves.
So how do you overcome linear advice if you’re a non-linear creative person?
It’s easy, recognize it, and don’t use it if it doesn’t work for you. Linear advice is not hard to identify. If it looks and sounds standard, then it probably is and around 98% of pro bloggers and how-to books give this type of advice.
- She writes every day, usually at the same time and same place.
- She needs to be organized with all necessary tools in their proper place and ready to use.
- Loves to write until she reaches a specific word count.
- She doesn’t believe writer’s block exists and if she somehow does get stuck she has a go-to system to beat it.
- She tries to write every day, but doesn’t hold to it if she’s not ‘feeling it.’
- Her desk tends to look like a chaotic mess ‘to others’ and her tools are wherever she last used them.
- She writes until she’s done or doesn’t feel like it anymore. Writing until she reaches a specific word count makes her want to vomit in her mouth.
- Writer’s block exists for her and it’s diabolical.
Do you feel you work best when you work in a systematic manner, perhaps with an outline and a fixed number of words you’re trying to reach? Then you are probably a linear thinker. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s actually a very good thing and has allowed our world to advance the way it has with production plants, assembly lines, the mass production of books, and standards in nearly every industry.
Linear advice is not bad advice. Unless you’re non-linear thinker, then it could prove to be detrimental if you can’t conform and use it. Non-linear thinkers do things differently. Steve Jobs was a non-linear thinker.
If you’re a non-linear thinker and you take advice from a linear thinker you’re going to end up disappointed and disillusioned. The non-linear mind cannot entirely conform to linear thinking, at least, not without medication it seems. If linear tips and ideas sound great, but you’ve never been able to stick to them for more than a couple days, you could be a non-linear thinker.
You’re not defective if you’re a non-linear thinker.
You’re okay. You could very well be a creative genius. I don’t know, and we’ll only find out if you find a way to create your art YOUR WAY.
If cookie cutter rules don’t work for your creative talents, then don’t sabotage yourself by trying in vain to follow them. On the other hand, if you’re a linear thinker then, by all means, do things the way that works best for you. Each has its benefits, but fitting circles into square holes has never worked, at least not without breaking something, such as passion and enthusiasm.
When it comes to creating art, any kind of art, it’s not about conforming and doing what everyone else is doing.
The essence of art is to be unique.
How are you going to be unique, much less different, by conforming to what works for someone else?
How about becoming an inspired writer
- Listen to your intuition. We all inherently know how we work best. When we search for tips and ideas it’s often because we have lost touch with the way we do things. Maybe someone said you’re unorganized or you procrastinate too much so it threw you off. That’s okay, it happens to the best of us. Procrastination is often a sign you’re overwhelmed so take a look at how much you’re trying to do or how hard you’re trying to change and adjust accordingly by listening to your intuition.
- Be yourself. Everyone’s different, even linear and non-linear thinkers are different from each other within their own groups. We categorize each other too much and it all too often leads to personal and creative struggle, so get back to who you are and be yourself.
- Be awesome! Step 3 is a natural result of the power of step one and two. If you listen to your intuition you’ll get back to being yourself and that will lead to your creative awesomeness.
We’ve got enough carbon copies, so please, embrace your own way of creating and I know you’ll get your enthusiasm back!