Feed Your Writing Soul (By Margarita Huerta, Ph.D., P.O.W.E.R. Consultant)

 

Feed Your Writing Soul 

By Margarita (Maggie) Huerta, Ph.D., P.O.W.E.R. Consultant

 

The first time I heard the phrase, feed your writing soul, I was steeped in reading statistics and very technical journal articles. So, you can imagine how “fluffy” the idea of “feeding my writing soul” sounded.

 

My mind raced to a scene from the Dead Poet’s Society, with Robin Williams jumping on a desk and tearing pages out of a book.  Here I was trying to sort out how I was going to statistically analyze my data, and I was being told to do … what?

 

But, the person telling me to do this was serious, and a very serious academic as well.

 

If I wanted to improve the quality of my writing – and the quality of my overall academic writing life - I needed to seriously feed my writing soul.

 

So, I swallowed my high-strung academic pride and asked, “How?”

 

Before I explain how, let me assure you that feeding my writing soul has been key to:

  • Not crashing and burning in my academic career
  • Finishing my dissertation
  • Having momentum to keep writing academically
  • Adding quality, and not just quantity, to my academic writing

If this sounds good to you, then read on.

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How do you feed your writing soul? One way to feed your writing soul is by reading beautiful writing and making time to write creatively/ for fun (yes, for fun). The time can be as short as 5-10 minutes a day.

 

Reading

Beautiful writing includes anything from literary works to inspirational books on topics ranging from the writing craft to spirituality.

 

For me, this meant picking up classic works of literature I had been forced to read in high school and reading them SLOWLY without worrying about having to take a quiz on the material the next day or having to write a critical analysis essay by the end of the week.

 

As I read slowly, I savored the characters, the descriptions, the plot and the language.

 

I read poetry. I ordered a tiny anthology of short poems. It takes only 2 minutes to read one poem a day (plus 2 more minutes to re-read the poem and soak in the meaning and the language). Total time: 4 minutes.

 

I read books that inspired my writing craft and my spiritual life. Again, I read about 5-10 minutes of these books a day.

 

May I recommend some of them to you? Note: My recommendations for spiritual inspiration are Christian-based, so they are only for those who are Christian and/or open to Christianity.

 

On the writing craft:

 

For spiritual inspiration:

 

Reading beautiful writing that is non-academic refreshes and inspires me, which is exactly what I need to keep momentum with my academic reading and writing.

 

Interestingly, reading good writing also helps me think about the quality of my own academic writing as I sit down to write academic text.

 

Writing

After you read (or as you read), I recommend you actually write to feed your writing soul. Again, set your timer for 5-10 minutes, and:

 

- Write your own poem. Start with Haikus. They are short and structured and a fun way to challenge your mind to play with words. Creative word play can give your mind the flexibility you need to increase the momentum and quality of your academic writing.

- Write prose for fun. Start your own blog, or keep a private journal. If you need ideas for what to write, check out this fun website which offers prompts for creative writing: first50.wordpress.com 

 

Other

You can also feed your writing soul apart from reading and writing.

 

Everyone is different, so you need to think about what * inspires *, ~ refreshes ~, and ENERGIZES you.

 

The following are ideas to help you get started. These activities will take longer than 5-10 minutes a day, so I would recommend you schedule them regularly into your week:

  • Take a walk
  • Go for coffee with a friend
  • Paint
  • Go to a museum
  • Watch an inspiring film
  • Attend a theatrical production

 

Concluding Thoughts

Feeding the writing soul is a reminder to academics that they are not just composed of mind. We are humans - mind, body and, spirit (I realize I sound like a yoga instructor, here).

 

The more you attend to your overall wellbeing, the more likely you are to see your academic writing flourish in both productivity and quality. Who wouldn’t want that? Just try it.