Finding Your Writing Rhythm

As a freelancer, there is a constant conflict between the practical side and the creative side of your brain. Your practical side works at 1,000 miles an hour, quickly navigating the logistics of pitching a story, negotiating fees, and creating connections with editors.

But once you land an article, you have to immediately switch to your creative side, that part of your brain that generates innovative ideas and the unique language to convey them. It’s like changing from Clark Kent into Superman. You quickly have to toss aside your business attire and put on your thinking cap (or is it cape?).

So how do you negotiate this abrupt shift when you sit down to write an article?

Balancing your creative spark with your entrepreneurial spirit is a challenge for even the most experienced of independent journalists and freelancers. But it doesn’t have to be that way.


5 Tips to Help You Find Your Writing Rhythm

Finding your writing rhythm can help you to get in tune with your creative side. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Timing is Everything. Find the time of day when you can channel your creativity. In my own freelancing career, I discovered that my optimal writing time is at 5 am, before the flood of PR emails and editors’ revisions. By working with my natural writing rhythm, I could create pieces with language that flowed, instead of text produced between frantic emails from editors. We all have natural rhythms and connecting with yours will make you a better writer. We all want to put our best words forward, and if you are able to interface with your own creative clock, you’ll certainly improve your craft.
  2. Break It Down. If while you’re writing and you feel like you’ve hit a mental block, don’t be afraid to take a break. Step away from your computer, go for a walk, make some lunch, meet a friend for a coffee, or even take a nap. Everyone needs a break every now and again, and sometimes a mental block is your brain reminding you to take a moment to breathe. Simple meditation exercises can help you to regain your creative center. Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh has a good (and easy to memorize) meditation to calm your senses. During your break, maybe take some big breaths and recite the following poem: “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.” Sure, being on deadline isn’t exactly a “wonderful moment,” but in those few meditative moments you can open your mind to new possibilities when the cloud of stress clears from your brain.
  3. Avoid Distractions. Your computer can be so many things. It’s where you write your stories, but also it is where you watch videos, listen to music, and communicate. To connect with your creative side, sometimes you need to cut yourself off. In this digital age, breaking away from your wired existence can be akin to amputation, and you’ll probably experience some phantom pains when detaching from your iPhone, but for the sake of your creativity, being a temporary Luddite is a necessity. Whether that’s taking your laptop to an area without Wi-Fi or temporarily blocking digital distractions like Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, your sense of focus will be laser-sharp when remove any digital avenue of procrastination. Sometimes a little isolation will do you some good.
  4. Freelancing Jams. If you’re the kind of writer who can’t work in silence, maybe some music will get you in the writing mood. Make yourself a writing mixtape (or playlist) and title it “Music for Writing.” Listening to Brian Eno and Steven Reich puts me in a creative mood. The circular rhythms and instrumental journeys help to inspire me to dull the distractions of the everyday. It also helps to drown out the noise of family/roommates/coworkers too. In the notes of music, we can make a moment into a special one, where the stress of that looming deadline fades away. Music can be an antidote to creative stagnation.
  5. Snack Subterfuge. Often when a serious deadline lurks around the corner, writers tend to go into emergency mode. We drop everything to get that piece done, lunch included. Sometimes we’ll ignore our own body just to make a deadline. But being stressed and hungry can only hurt the piece you’re writing. When there is a rumbling in your stomach, there is no way to focus on the task at hand, let alone write compelling prose that will blast your reader’s socks off. Take a minute to slow down and snack for a minute. Taking a moment to nourish your body will help make your brain healthier too. And maybe for a minute, you’ll forget that deadline lingering just two hours away.

Your Turn

These are just some of the methods you can use to find your creativity.

How do you keep in the rhythm for writing? Share your tips in the comments.

Image by Minette Layne

Comments

  1. says

    Interesting that you mentioned figuring out when the best time is to write and be creative. I don’t think that I have figured mine out yet, but I’m sure it will be around 1am in the morning when nothing else is going on. Maybe I will try early in the morning but I have never been much of a morning person.

    I always find myself getting distracted when trying to write something, but recently I have started using Ommwriter which seems to do the job of cutting out restrictions.

    Nice article. Lee

  2. says

    hi,
    Thanks for this topic!
    As a freelancer, everyone has good time for creativity.
    But you need to find balance between the pace of time writing and maximum creativity.
    For me, the best time is first thing in the morning, when manage to get away from any source of stress and nothing distracts me.
    Bye!

  3. says

    I especially identify with #3. Avoid distractions. That has to be my biggest problem for accomplishing anything; be it a blog post or other desk assigned task. The proximity to the internet is like being an alcoholic with a fully stocked bar at the end of your desk.
    Don’t know how those guys in Mad Men did it.

    This was driven home when I had a doctor’s appointment and while waiting, I thought I’d get a head start on a blog post. I pulled out my iPad and since it was in a hospital, I didn’t have access to 3G or WiFi. I wrote more in the 30 minutes it took before going in to see my Doc, than I had all that morning.

    Learned a valuable lesson and I continue try to keep my internet addiction in check – one day at a time.
    Thanks, great post.

  4. says

    Great article … really liked your view on timing and avoiding distractions.

    The problem I have is that when I am going to work (which has nothing t do with writing, unfortunately), coming back, driving or in situations where I just cant write .. ideas keep coming in .. beautiful sentences are formed in my mind, new ways to present my point of view and topics to write .. all seem storming in when I cant do anything about them.

    But when I sit to write, the well woven phrases are torn apart, the beautiful ideas dissolved and new ways to present myself are all but gone …

    And the other problem is lack of concentration, it might have something to do with distractions .. but its the same story as above, when Im in Financial Reporting Class ideas and even paras are flowing in faster than the speed at which the teacher in front of me is talking .. but after the class its all gone!

    Any suggestions??

  5. says

    As a writer, I find it hard recollecting my thoughts specially when I’m not in the mood. I know, I can’t say that as a reason to procrastinate, but it’s really hard to write when you’ can’t find your rhythm. Perhaps, one tip I can share, which is based on my experience, is to always have a ready paper and pen or digital notepad by your side so that when the thoughts start to flow down, you can easily write it on a sheet of paper or type it on your digital notepad even if you’re not in front of your laptop or desktop. You’ll just be surprised with what your have already written

  6. says

    I think writing is an art. Normally I wrote when I want and stop it when I do not have more ideas. I kept it and do this on next day. Your tips are very useful for my works. Thanks you.

  7. Rodrigo says

    Great article! I can identify with points #1 and #3.

    One thing that I would add is the importance of choosing where to write. I have this special spot in a public library that I simply love. I guess that there were a few times that I sat there and got a lot of writing done, and now my mind is conditioned to the idea that when I sit there I will meet my writing objectives. And I do! I don’t go there everyday, only when I really need to, otherwise the magic of the place might wear off… I know, its psychological, but it works for me! :)

    Cheers!

  8. says

    I quite agree with you sir, i have tried the methods and it worked like fire for me, i can write like never before now. thanks for the info.

  9. says

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  10. says

    Finding Your Writing Rhythm | FreelanceFolder I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my trouble. You’re amazing! Thanks! your article about Finding Your Writing Rhythm | FreelanceFolderBest Regards Lisa

  11. says

    Finding Your Writing Rhythm | FreelanceFolder I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my trouble. You’re amazing! Thanks! your article about Finding Your Writing Rhythm | FreelanceFolderBest Regards Shane

  12. says

    Finding Your Writing Rhythm | FreelanceFolder I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my trouble. You are incredible! Thanks! your article about Finding Your Writing Rhythm | FreelanceFolderBest Regards Shane

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