How to Enhance Your Writing by Non Writing Activities


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Can a writer write when not actually writing?

Many of us feel guilty when not sitting in front of our laptop writing, but to be honest so much of our writing ideas and skills come to life when we are not busy writing. These activities may ‘take us away’ from our writing, but I believe they also enrich our words by providing ideas and additional knowledge and invaluable connections in the writing community. As writers we do so much more than just write sentences.

Our readers see the end result, the sun shining through the top of a tree with all the hard work invisible in the trunk and the multiple roots.

Non writing activities

So apart from tapping away on my laptop here are the just a few of the activities I have enjoyed ‘taking me away’ from my actual writing time this year.

Writing groups

I am part of a writers’ group that meets once a month. The group have some excellent speakers and workshops, and is a great way to connect and give/get writing support.

In the past I have also been involved with critique groups, an invaluable asset when struggling with your work or just want reassurance you are on the right track with a scene or chapter. Sometimes we get so close to our own work we cannot see the issue or the solution.

Festivals and conferences

Attending writers festivals and conferences is not only great fun but also informative and another avenue to connect with writing industry folks. This year I attended both the Sydney writers festival in May, the Sth Coast writers festival in July and the Romance Writers conference in August. I could have happily attended more but they also have to align with my current budget. Of course, that will change once I become a top writer on Medium. Did I tell you I’m the eternal optimist?

Social media

As the long standing Social Media officer for our local writers festival I have put together a large number of posts to promote this festival and its many fantastic speakers. This provided me with new skills and knowledge that I can now use in my freelance business and on my own social media updates.

Social media connects you with other writers and provides you with updates on events in your local area.

Author book launches

Many writers are introverts and public speaking does not always come easy. Attending book launches not only is a way to network and meet likeminded people, but also a way to learn what an audience enjoy and want to hear at book launches. What works and what doesn’t. Small gatherings of close friends and publishing supporters at book stores or libraries seem a winner. Even better with a bit of champagne to relax everyone! I’ve attended a number of these at our local library, and super excited about my next book even featuring one of my favourite authors, Trent Dalton.

Reading

Reading as many books across a varied number of genres is essential. To get as many into my busy days I use different media. My Kindle when travelling light. My audio when driving/exercising or doing housework. And a real book, the best, when I do find time to sit and enjoy the read. Which unfortunately is not always easy working a day job and trying to fit in my writing in my spare time left. 

Since joining Medium I have also found an immense joy and knowledge from reading the many and varied posts from writers across the globe. 

Exercising

Yes, I know it seems far fetched. What does exercising have to do with writing. I tell you, heaps! A good walk along the water’s edge or in amongst the trees has provided me with so many ideas. When you go on automatic and just walk, thoughts just flow and ideas pop out of nowhere. Even tricky parts of a novel can sometimes get solved when walking. But don’t just take my words for it. University experiments on Springer Link have been documented to indicate just that.

“Specifically, not just walking, but free walking has been shown to have the most benefit for divergent thinking “ ¹


Conclusion

So back to the question, can a writer write when not actually writing? Of course we can. 

In fact, I’d say ‘non writing’ activities are essential to keeping the creativity flowing and our writing tool box sharp and up-to-date. 

Now at least by writing about what gets me away from writing I actually got some writing done!

What do you find gets you away from writing , but also helps you in your writing? 

Send us a comment and let’s connect.

References:

¹ Springer Link: Motor restrictions impair divergent thinking during walking and during sitting

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