Each week I claim that writers are discovering ways to reach their writing goals—and have fun—by being more curious, creative, and productive.
And each week you may be thinking, “Really?”
Yes, I really do believe these three traits or these three values can drive you forward to achieve your goals—and have fun along the way. They are values I myself take to heart and encourage my clients to explore and embrace, because curiosity, creativity, and productivity—together—have the potential to transform both you and your writing.
Today’s overview will give you a high-level look, and in the weeks ahead we’ll drill down into each one, to look at their core. By taking a closer look, you’ll see how developing these traits as a part of everyday life and as part of your writing practice, you’ll position yourself to become the writer you want to be.
Pillar One: Curiosity in the Writing Life
Why curiosity on its own? Why not tuck that under the umbrella of creativity?
Curiosity drives us to discover, to wonder, to think “What if?”
Could there be a more energizing trait for a writer?
Writers of fiction turn to the “what if” prompt to ignite their imagination. Curiosity propels stories forward for the reader as they wonder what’s next. Curiosity gets characters into trouble and then curiosity helps them solve problems to get out of trouble.
Poets, too, benefit from curiosity as a driving force. As the poet asks questions, she looks more closely at anything from a fish to a father. Curiosity calls us to slow down, consider, put the pieces together in a way that the rest of the world, speeding along without a pause, rarely has time to mess with—and curious poets put words to what they’ve pieced together.
Writers of nonfiction who let curiosity guide them will break free from rephrasing the same old points over and over. A curious writer will dig deeper, probe into subject matter, research topics to find the freshest, most accurate answers.
Writers who value and practice this as a part of their daily lives will likely have more fun along the way, delighting in both big wonders and small, grieving over deep injustice, seeking truth and revealing it.
In the next episode, we’ll look in more detail about how to develop curiosity as a writer and practice it regularly. Let’s look briefly at the next pillar of the writing life: creativity.
Pillar Two: Creativity in the Writing Life
You can enroll in an MFA program to earn a degree in what? Creative writing.
Whatever focus you select—fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction—creativity is the core concept of the program because creativity is core to a writer.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone disagree with the belief that creativity is key to great writing, and yet I’ve read pieces that could use an injection of creativity. Aren’t we seeking to create something new rather than regurgitate something old and stale in a style that sounds like it could have been written by anyone?
Embedded in the idea of creativity is not only that the ideas are creative—they’re fresh, novel, compelling, engaging—but also that we are indeed creating things. We can’t make something out of nothing, but we can mold into existence a passage, a poem, a project from ideas formed out of words. In that sense, writers are creators.
Practicing the craft of writing builds our confidence in wielding the tools at our disposal, but we can practice creativity in other areas of life in a way that enriches us as people. That, in turn, feeds into our work.
Be more creative as a person, and you’ll move closer to becoming a more creative writer—and thus achieving your writing goals.
And the creative process itself—even before arriving at the final product—satisfies the person in the midst of creating. So you really can’t lose if you prioritize this value.
Pillar Three: Productivity in the Life of a Writer
If we want to be writers, we have to produce words that turn into projects.
It doesn’t mean we have to spit out poems like candy from a vending machine or roll out short stories like cars on an assembly line—that’s why we have three pillars and not just one!
Curiosity and creativity infuse our writing with life and energy and joy, novelty and insight. Productivity ensures it is captured and expressed in words.
Writers who fall down rabbit holes of research driven by curiosity must eventually emerge and throw some of that on the page to sort it out and produce a final project.
We must produce or we aren’t writing.
Some writers will sit on an idea for a decade or longer, unable to produce even a portion of it, afraid they won’t do it justice. But writers must write—we must produce some kind of output or product.
Other writers start project after project in bursts of creative inspiration. They delight in the potential they see in those works in progress, but they struggle to see them through to completion.
We have to start and finish projects if we ever want to share our work with others. And isn’t that ultimately why we write? For the reader?
And don’t we long to build a body of work? To do so, we must learn to be productive writers.
Even slow writers can find ways to steadily put their ideas, thoughts, stories, and dreams into words in order to grow into more practiced, experienced, confident writers ready to share their work with the world.
The Three Values Work Together in Your Writing Life
If we were only productive without being creative or curious, we could be writing and publishing formulaic projects that offer nothing new or fresh.
If we were creative without being productive or curious, we might write experimental freewriting in a journal that never evolves into a completed project or one we would share with others.
If we were curious without being productive or creative, we might read and think and go for walks and chat with friends or interview experts without ever putting pen to paper to create or send out anything.
Thankfully, we’ll be exploring three pillars of the writing life—three traits that transform you and your writing so that you achieve your writing goals (and have fun!). It takes curiosity, creativity, and productivity to arrive at your best writing life.
- Want to Be a More Creative Writer? Get Curious! (Ep 35)
- The Top 5 Ways Curiosity Can Ruin Your Writing (Ep 60)
- Rest and Productivity (Ep 12)
- Relentlessly Execute Your Plan to Level Up (on Productivity – Ep 200)
- A Writer’s Guide to ROI series
- Next-Level Writer series
- Write to Discover series
- All podcast episodes
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