Being creative makes us happy – that’s true – but not just because we just enjoy dreaming up new ideas and having flights of fancy. In fact, research tells us that what we really love about creativity is the daily drudgery – the slow and frequently painful trudge towards getting it done and mastering our creative persuit.
Facing the blank page, getting started, overcoming fear of failure and getting into a writing rhythm are some of the biggest hurdles a novice writer can face. But there are some surefire ways to help you give your writing the kickstart it deserves – and they’re all backed by science.
David Quantick is an Emmy-winning television writer, a radio broadcaster, novelist, journalist and author of the best-selling writing manual How To Write Everything. He has just published How To Be A Writer which features interviews with famous writers, performers and industry insiders including Jon Ronson, Emma Donoghue and Caitlin Moran. Here he interviews himself with questions selected at random from the book.
“I hate writing, I love having written,” goes the highly relatable quote by novelist Dorothy Parker. Whilst the creative turmoil of the writer is legendary – even necessary – tinkering with your motivational mindset can make your daily dose of writing torture more bearable. You might even have some fun…
There’s nothing like a moonshot to test your creativity. Writers of all stripes love big, bold challenges and research shows there’s significant benefits from stretching yourself. But how ambitious should you be when setting goals?
It’s all too easy to put off writing. I’m just way too busy, now’s not the right time, there’s other stuff going on. We know that writers delay writing for years – decades even. Not because of laziness or fear of hard graft but rather because their project seems so overwhelming. This is where the science of habits can help.
We tell ourselves many reasons why we’re not writing – or not writing as much or as often as we would like. Pick your reasons from the following list: work, family, social life, duties, distractions. But if you want to write and you’re not making writing a priority, there’s actually only a single reason – fear.
Often a mixture of hard graft, personal sacrifice, soul searching, general indifference and frequent rejection – writing can be tough. That’s why having your own reward system to keep you writing can really help. After all, it’s unlikely that anyone else is going to lavish praise on you so you may as well do it yourself.
You’re desperate to write but your life is crammed full of things you want to do – plus a bunch of tedious tasks you have to do. So how do you find the time and what else is going to give? According to science, the answer is to plan your writing time and make it a non-negotiable fixture in your diary – it’s only then that you’ll start to write unthinkingly.
Creative people – and especially writers – aren’t famed for their boundless joy. Being creative can make us happy, but not normally in a wave-your-arms-in-the-air-like-you-just-don’t-care way. Unsurprisingly, science tells us that the link between happiness and creativity is ‘complicated’. But it also tells us that it’s a deeply human activity – and it’s perhaps that which keeps us hooked.