3 Reasons Why Forcing Ideas Leads to Bad Writing

According to Henry David Thoreau, “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”  I interpret the great American writer’s words to mean that writing without having living is a futile endeavor.  Lately, I have been experiencing writer’s block. Promising ideas and topics spring into my mind; however, a few sentences in I encounter a cerebral roadblock. I stop and wonder: what do my better works have in common? This question weighed on my mind for several days. Finally, I had an insight, a spark of inspiration!  My creativity stems from drawing on palpable life experiences and I write best when I do not force the pen to the paper. Here are three reasons why forcing ideas lead to bad writing:

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Writing is Creative

Writing is a form of art. Like all other artwork, writing involves creativity. From my experiences, I find that I am most creative when I do not seek to be creative. Rather, I allow myself to be inspired. I found inspiration from other authors, the wonders of the world, and my life experiences. William Wordsworth once said, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” Without breathing creativity into sterile words, writing is a lifeless process—there exists no meaning.

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Creativity stems freely engaging with reality, yet also believing in the seeming impossible. “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You image what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will,” declared George Bernard Shaw. Forcing me to write when I am not inspired and when I lack the volition does not lead to a good essay.

Freedom over Coercion

To further the previous point, creativity only flows naturally with a will to write. In other words, authors tend to best write under freedom versus being coerced. Freedom presupposes a will. An author’s will to compose comes in ebbs and flows. Throughout this past month, I have lived in an arid climate—intellectually speaking. Previously, creativity freely flowed into my mind like an open spout. Currently, the creative spigot is dripping sporadic moments of creativity. Without having access to turn the metaphorical spout, I need to patiently wait for my natural ability to write to return. Waiting is a tough thing for me. According to the famous French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, “Patience is bitter, but its fruits are sweet”. I pray for the gift of patience from the Holy Spirit to withstand my aridity in authorship.

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Real Life Experience vs. Fabricated Events

During the last few months, I learned that recalling past [and present] life experiences help me in sowing [and eventually reap the harvest] the seeds of writing. Concocting or fabricating an experience does not lead to a good piece of writing.  A contrived event only breeds half-finished drafts and clutters my computer’s filing system.

Without leaning on real life experiences, my writing suffers immensely. Drawing on the wellspring on my life infuses hue, vibrancy, and emotion into writing. A large part of my childhood involved reading. Franz Kafka boldly stated, “Reading is more important than writing.” The German novelist is on point with his claim.

This month involved a ton of changes in my family’s schedules. As a result, I lack sufficient time to ponder my experiences. I also failed to read daily. To combat this aridity, I made time to read at least 30 minutes a day to end this week. Reinvigorated with fresh ideas, I finally am able to complete today’s post!

Because writing is a creative endeavor forcing ideas does not always lead to the best artwork. Creativity involves freedom and a willingness to write and draw upon past and present experiences. Useful tips to help renew my creativity wellspring include: retreating from the busyness of life to reflect in silence and read other great books.

***“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”***

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Why the Best Writing Rarely Develops as You Originally Planned

I am the dictionary definition of a Type A personality. Order, preparation, planning, scheduling, and structure are my addiction. I thrive on a rigid schedule and always need a contingency plan in place just in case the first 37 plans fail.

Benjamin Franklin spoke of the importance of planning, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” You May be worried that the title of this post is a sign I might be abandoning my priority on order and organization. Have no fear! That is not going to happen.

Life includes Curved Roads

While preparation sets you best for daily and lifelong success, it is still important to remind your that life does not always follow a straight path. How I wished it were that “straightforward” and simple!

Sometimes situations get complex. You may forget something or other people may slow our progress. Sometimes things outside our control run into our sights like a deer running across the interstate unexpectedly. We might notice in time to avoid collision. More often than not we will hit these unexpected situations.

We Can’t Plan for Everything

These are the times are best efforts to plan ahead seem to be in vain. This morning started that way for me. Coming off little sleep, Monday hit me. Hit me hard! Initially, I reacted poorly, I am ashamed to admit. All my hopes for the day appeared to be dashed. Pessimism overwhelmed me.

Through the help of my amazing wife, my stress-induced slide stopped. I took action and wrote about my struggles. Giving little thought about structure, I just wrote from the heart. I wrote how I was feeling.

Suddenly, after a minutes I had a few paragraphs. A few minutes later more and paragraphs. I did not originally intend on writing this post today. I had a “grander”, a “better”, and a “more prepared”?topic to discuss. What I came to realize is that I was writing for myself–selfishly. I wanted to have a perfect post. A planned and perfectly executed article. What I definitely was not thinking about earlier was my audience. You!

Allow Yourself to Show in Your Writing

The reason I believe my best writing is the least planned is because it includes the following:

  • Lots of heart
  • My vulnerability
  • Strong desire to help others

I am not immune from hurt. This really is no surprise anymore.

Because of my hubris, I am quick to forget the reason I write. I write to help others. To help you. I want to give hope at the beginning of a stressful week. I want to give hope to new writers that it is okay if your posts are not perfect. Why do I fail so miserably sometimes?  I am merely human. You are too.

Learn from Challenges

Planning your day and weekly schedule is still important. Learn from my mistakes. Don’t let rigid structure control your life. Allow it to guide you.

If you found this post helpful please share it with a someone you know it can help as well. Please also tell me your current struggles in the comments section. I would love to listen and encourage you in any way possible!

Thank you for sharing!

3 Simple Strategies to Jumpstart Your Ability to Create Content

According to acclaimed entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, “No matter what you do, your job is to tell your story.” As a writer, this advice should be fairly straightforward. In theory this notion should be easy to implement. Practically, life tells us otherwise. At times work and family obligations make it quite difficult to create content.

Creating Content

“I don’t have time” or “I am too tired from work or parenting” are excuses. Valid excuses. But excuses nonetheless. American found Benjamin Franklin professed, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Ouch! His words certainly sound jarring. Sometimes we need to hear that severe truth  to ignite the passion within us.

Coming off a long weekend, I felt the need for a second weekend to recover from my Saturday and Sunday. Again, I am coming up with an excuse. I struggled to develop a topic for content this week. Suddenly, I realized— how about I write about what to do when you struggle with developing content! This post will be centered on three strategies that you can use immediately to jumpstart your ability to create content.

Get Creative

I have learned that value of developing innovative strategies to write. I started The Simple Catholic blog in 2015. Four years’ worth of content! It gets tough to write about things especially when you’ve exhausted a lot of great ideas in the past.

Think Outside the Box

One creative way I learned to develop content is to immediately jot down an idea when it pops into my head. Throughout the day I think about this idea. If it is a fruitful notion, I am able to develop a cohesive and understandable outline to then construct the post when I have time later. Driving, biking, showering, or in between calls at my job are great times for me to ponder and develop these nuggets of information.

Develop Time Savers

Some days I barely have 10 minutes to write. Honestly, these days frustrate me! As a storyteller, I long to have the ability to put down my thoughts, frustrations, joys, happenings, and concerns. Writing is therapeutic. It provides healing when I am distressed. Writing is cathartic—cleansing me of worry, doubt, and irritations. Because writing provides me that important function in my life, I make sure I take at least a little time to write daily.

Time Management

Today  was one of those rushed and packed days. During my job, my phone rang off the hook. I only had 30 seconds between speaking with customers. Along with being, creative, I had to seek ways to make the best use of my time. Below are a list of the best time management practices I have discovered:

  • Utilize outlines to craft the structure of an article
  • Use the voice-to-text function on phone/apps
  • Set a weekly post goal—meet this goal consistently
  • Develop flexibility to work in smaller chunks of time—this is especially key for writers who are also parents!
  • Make time for reflection/mediation
  • Exercise frequently—you will be quite surprised how a short jog or session at the gym will invigorate your mind
  • Set time limits for social media usage

Follow Your Mission Statement

A third strategy to boost your content creation is to write about your passion. What excites you? Which subject could you ad lib for 30 minutes? Why did you originally begin your blog? What motivates your writing?

What is your mission

These questions allow me to get back to the heart of my mission. My Catholic faith is more important to me than anything in this life. Possessing a Master’s degree in Theology and teaching experience provided me the initial foundation for my blog. Along with evangelizing and discovering the joy of the Gospel, I enjoy writing about my other passions as well: exercise, writing, fantasy, and comic books. I find joy in each of these subjects.

Gary Vaynerchuk say that “Passion is contagious.” Zest also leads to a more thriving life! Helping others learn to write and blog drive me to share my best practices. When we share knowledge and experience honestly and without any strings attached we all win. I would love to hear your own struggles and triumphs in the content creating process. Share your best practices in the comments below!

Related Links

https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2019/04/11/5-reasons-why-your-statistics-on-wordpress-do-not-define-you-as-a-blogger/

https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2019/04/01/3-seo-best-practices-to-grow-your-blog-traffic-in-2019/

https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2017/11/28/3-ways-to-stay-relevant-as-a-catholic-blogger/

 

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