In 1990 Ray Bradbury published Zen in the Art of Writing. I have never read this collection of essays about his love for the creative process to writing. If you have, I would like to hear your opinion.
Below is my list of seven tips to reach your own writing Zen.
1. Call yourself by the right title. – Call yourself a writer. Even if you aren’t published yet. Do you enjoy writing? Then you are a writer. Take yourself seriously or no one else will. Thinking of yourself as a writer will boost your confidence and unlock your creativity.
2. Write for Fun – While completing an assignment or meeting a goal can certainly be necessary, it should not be your ONLY reason to write. You need a creative outlet, even if it’s only 10 minutes in the morning before your day begins or at night when the house is quiet again. Allow yourself to write for pure pleasure, not for anyone else. Set down the idea you’ve been turning around in your head for the last few weeks. If you don’t have one, just start writing down anything AND everything that comes to mind, without stopping. Eventually, your creative genius will appear.
3. Keep an idea/inspiration Journal – Target and various Dollar stores often keep stacks of pocket/purse sized notebooks on sale for $1. Treat yourself to a couple and keep them for those frequent times you “feel” something and don’t have time to explore them completely. This way you’ll remember the ideas, quotes, lyrics when you find yourself unable to sleep or hit with a case of writer’s block. Become your own best source of inspiration.
4. Create a Swipe file/cabinet – Eventually you will fill up your creative Journals and then what? All of those unfinished or unpublished works should be kept in one place for you to draw out when the time is right. Here is an example of mine. http://writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/2010/10/art-of-chaos.html
5. Forget Form/Function – Your rough draft is just for you. Don’t worry about a title, spelling, grammar, number of words, creating the attention grabbing hook or the memorable ending. The first pass is just to get your ideas down. You’re setting the bones.
6. Rewrite – This is where you flesh out the story. Now that you have your ideas down, begin consulting your inner editor to make the piece shine. Make sure your beginning introduces the theme as well as hooks the reader’s interest. By the time you reach the end again, be certain all loose ends have been concluded. This is also where you decide if your title accurately portrays your work or if you should change it to fit.
7. Final Pass – Sometimes it helps to get away from your work for a while before you attempt this step. A break will help you attain objectivity. Check your balance and length. You’ll need to know the publishers guidelines to make sure you meet these qualifications. This is when you edit each sentence. Check your grammar and spelling. It helps to read your work aloud. Our ears can catch mistakes out eyes miss.
Zen writing means writing with a calm and unified mind. Most writing problems are based on conflict between the Creator and the Editor within. When you keep these two aspects of writing separate, it will boost your creativity and bring ease as well as success to your writing.