How does Stephen King do it? Sit and write five-hour marathons? Well, maybe he has funlike you soon will. How? By doing something fun before you write, suggests Helen Sword. Or find fun places to write papers.
During undergrad, I had little playtime. My time-off revolved around a two-hour visit with a senior. Id put sunglasses, sneakers, and makeup on her and wheel her to the mall. Or we played bridge.
But then I discovered the gym, which led to dancing, martial arts, weightlifting, cyclingeven singing. I de-stressed with barbells. I studied on stationary bikes. I used dance moves as mnemonics. In other words, I packed fun into schoolwork.
To make class projects thrilling, Id craft multimedia performances. Id splash art, music, voice-overs, video, even dance into presentations. Id hire crews of tech experts and designers, citing them all.
One time I rented a stereo system for my class presentation. The professor asked, “You plan on a proper presentation, don’t you?” I quipped, “I’m going to stand on this table and sing Barbara Streisand.” The audience looked sullen. Only my enemy smiled.
I later proposed to the same professor to hire actors for a script Id write. The professor balked, but later, pulled me aside. She whispered, “I think edutainment isnt such a bad idea,” and scurried off. When I readied for a teaching contract, I revisited edutainment. I searched online and clicked on a rubber chicken. I asked an AU mentor his views on the rubber beast. No reply.
Since then, my creativity toned down. Now, I love sprinkling random thoughts into reading notes, and adding thoughts far off the beaten path. Adding our own ideas steps up originalitywhich academia sadly stomps out.
While I write, I ask my boyfriend for funny fodder. He fires off funnies in a flash, and we share lots of laughs. He also serves as a living thesaurus. Ask him any word, and he promptly replies with synonyms.
Helen Sword researches the emotionsand fun timeof writers in her book Air & Light & Time & Space: How Successful Academics Write:
Infuse your writing with joy and upbeat language.
Dont crash from five-hour daily writing marathons. Instead, do like Helen, and spice writing with fun.
List stuff you love. Try to add more fun before or during your writing stints.
Mix up different writing tasksfor variety. Start with research; switch to bibliography; shift to edits. Or do whatever you fancy.
Or do like Helen and record your voice during a light walk. Dash to the library for a change-up. Use colorful sticky notes.
Exercise before writing. Or write poetry. Or station yourself in a restaurant.
Write about what you loveor change topics, says Brian Boyd (as cited in Sword).
Often, how-to-books on academic writing say avoid university settings if you want writing fun.
So, light candles, sniff lavender, and warm up with downward facing dog. Dip into a hot bubble bath and read fiction. Oh yes, and at some point, write. A paradox? I call it a creative spark.