Creative overload: What’s a writer to do?

Well, it has been a night of back and forth… Perhaps it’s creative confusion… No, that’s not it… I think it’s more like over-stimulation, but I assure you, it’s not from coffee (I haven’t had any coffee today).  It is from too many writing projects. Flitting between hard-core news, to travel journalism, with a press release or two thrown into the pot, and then at night juggling a children’s novel and 2 feature films.  I am definitely on creative overload!

So, the question arises…”What does a writer do when they are juggling too many projects at once?”  I do have a few suggestions, however, I would like to take a momentary detour.

Recently I read an article that addressed this very thing, only the author was of the opinion that juggling too many projects or ideas is just another form of procrastination, which in her opinion is another term for writer’s block!  While I do believe with some people that can be the case, it is not the situation with me.

So, back to my original question.  Sometimes writers have very little work, and more free time to work on personal writing projects, and that is always fun, but that is not always the case.  In fact, when there is an excessive amount of projects to complete, it is wise to make a list, check it twice, and… no, wait… that’s been written… 🙂  It is a good idea to have a checklist, and start your writing day in the morning, and establish normal work hours, with a schedule and deadlines to meet.  In the same way you would have to meet deadlines if you were working for corporate America, it is paramount that you stick to a routine.

Keep in mind, that the majority of writers are not bereft of things to say.  In fact, it is pretty common for writers to have far too many opinions, story ideas, projects in the fire (or spread out all over the desk), and the temptation to be overly-stimulated into the wee hours of the morning.  This is where personal discipline becomes a useful tool, and getting good sleep, implementing some form of physical exercise to give oxygen to the brain.  It really is all about organization, structure and discipline.  OUCH!  Those are words many of us do not like to hear.

I would love to  say that I faithfully stick to this regiment.  I do try, but sometimes, it is a challenge.

Regiment as follows:

  • Early to bed, early to rise (except for tonight… it’s approaching 1 am)!
  • Go out for a brisk walk or jog in the fresh morning air.  There is something about taking in oxygen that aids to concentration immensely.

While I am on this topic, it is a known fact that children need fresh air to help them concentrate.  Do you think just because you have whiskers or wear lipstick that the need for fresh air changes for adults?  Au contraire.

Other ways to improve concentration are:

  • Do breathing exercise at regular intervals ,take in fresh air, enjoy a time practicing yoga or some form of meditation.
  • Avoid eating unhealthy foods, things with high sugar content (You will end up feeling drugged).
  • Keep some form of snack readily available like:  Raw nuts, cut up veggies, fruit slices, and/or other forms of protein, which will increase your energy.
  • Take breaks.  Everyone needs to take a few minutes during the course of the day, especially if you are stuck in front of a computer.  This is a great time to take in more oxygen.  In fact, I call them “air breaks.”  Stepping outside for a bit of O2 does wonders for concentration.  
  • Write down a daily list of reasonable goals.  Goals that can be achieved during the course of a work day.
  • While passion and inspiration is at the heart of every creative writer, there is some amount of organization that is needed for productivity.  Utilizing an over-sized bulletin-board is a great way to sort through various projects, especially if you are under any type of deadline.  Not everyone can plow through their computer files loaded with projects, but having a dry erase board with various colored ink can really help a lot.
  • Sometimes, it is advantageous to make up a dead line if you don’t actually have one.  This is particularly good for the writer who really does have way too many projects, and will help him/her actually finish some things!

I do not recommend post-it notes. Those little sticky notes can pose a serious problem for the over-zealous, stimulated writer.

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