Ready to channel your inner writer? Check out these 4 tips from Mic Drop Workshop founder and two-time author Jess Ekstrom ⬇️
I first caught the writing bug in 6th grade. I became obsessed with the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and would read them on the bus to and from school. One day, I connected the dots for the first time that real people can get published and submit their poems and stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul. From that moment on, I had one goal: get my words published in this series.
Every day after school, I’d put my writing cap on and submit poems and short stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul. I’d anxiously await by the mailbox to see if I got a response. Every now and then, I’d get a small envelope saying “thanks, but no thanks,” and I’d go back to my room and keep trying.
Over the course of six months, I probably submitted close to a hundred submissions…I’m not sure where that creativity was coming from as a twelve year old! But with each submission, I saw it as an opportunity to try something new and become a better writer.
Then one day…it happened. Instead of a small envelope with a rejection letter I got a BIG envelope with an acceptance letter! They selected one of my poems to be published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul Teenage Edition. Being twelve years old and associated with teenagers was a huge win and I got a $75 check which in my mind, meant I could retire.
I’ll never forget the day I walked into the bookstore with my mom and found the book on the shelf and flipped to my poem “by Jess Ekstrom.” Now I’ve published multiple books but none of them hold a candle to that first feeling of seeing your name in print.
But I’ll admit, as I got older, I lost that optimism with my writing where I could just crank out 100 submissions without judging myself or wondering what people would think.
That’s why in my most recent book for tweens and teens, Create Your Bright Ideas, I have writing exercises and encourage them to go after their ideas because oftentimes they haven’t developed those mental barriers yet.
But as adults, we can second guess ourselves all day long and if there’s a single ingredient in writer’s block…it’s self-doubt. Self-doubt will crush creativity faster than I crush a Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme on a road trip (I love Taco Bell).
Writing has too many mental and physical benefits to be put on the shelf (pun intended!), so I’ve compiled a list of 4 ways to bring out your inner writer…even for those people who say they “can’t write!”
1. Try my moment to meaning exercise
Take a minute and close your eyes (just bare with me on this). I want you to run through your day, or your past couple days, or the past week as if it’s a film strip. And then I want you to pause on any frame that means something to you, maybe it makes you happy or sad or it causes your heart to flutter a bit. I want you to write down that moment as it happened. Where were you standing? What happened? What was the play by play?
And then, I want you to write the meaning of that moment. What did it teach you? What did you realize from it? What did you learn? What could others learn from that moment?
In my course for women speakers, Mic Drop Workshop, I call this exercise Moment to Meaning. This is a great exercise for writers and speakers to digest their lives. Observe each moment through the lens of a teacher wanting to use real-life experiences to teach to others.
If you’re stuck with what to write, try Moment to Meaning!
2. Don’t edit as you go
What was my process when writing Chasing the Bright Side and Create Your Bright Ideas? Write, read what I just wrote, edit, delete, then do that all over again. It was exhausting.
Then, I got a piece of advice that I now take with me into every writing session. Don’t try to be the editor, agent, and writer at the same time. Just be the writer.
We can never produce good work if we’re constantly critiquing or wondering what people will think if they read it. Just be the writer!
3. Commit to a small daily word count
The quickest way to stop writing is to tell yourself that you need to write 5,000 words a day. If that feels manageable to you, then go for it! But for me, it seems like running a marathon each morning.
Instead, give yourself a small daily word count (like 500 words) or a timer, like 15 minutes of uninterrupted writing. If I’m writing a book, I use Dabble Writer. But if I’m writing just to write or journal, I use my own platform that I created called Prompted.io. You can even get a series of prompts from an expert based on what you want to explore.
4. Write like you talk
I hear the term “find your voice” often when it comes to writing. This might be controversial…but you already have a voice! I do my best to write like I would sound if I was talking to a friend. It takes the guessing and editing out of it because you can just let your stream of consciousness flow!
At the end of the day, having a writing practice is like cleaning your house when it gets messy. It puts our random thoughts and stories floating in our mind onto paper. Then, we can choose what’s fact, what’s fable, and what we want to take with us or leave on the page. Whether you’re writing to publish or writing to reflect, try these steps to let your inner writer fly!