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Reviving the Zombie Writer

Zombies. The undead. Maybe we think of them as monsters or nightmares turned real, but I think of them as grad students.

Along with my peers, I have been taking evening classes and working long days for the past year. How do I manage, you ask? Up until now, mostly lots of caffeine and crying.

But with the past summer, I gained some free time, which allowed me to rekindle my creativity and my writing spark. I didn't realize how much I truly missed it until I heard the clicking of my keyboard and felt a sense of pride in the words that surfaced on the page.

I survived the "apocalypse" (COVID-19 pandemic) by diving into my hobby of writing. Now, how do I survive the next chapter?

This new chapter is my first taste of true adulthood, not to mention the addition of grad school. I will say, it is much more difficult to keep up on writing now than it was as an undergraduate student trapped in a freezing basement, isolated from the world.

So how do I revive the zombie writer inside? This is not an exhaustive list, but a few key aspects I am going to focus on, that other writers may find comfort in.

Lean into the Creativity

Usually when I am super busy, one of two things happens; either I am so busy that my mind says it doesn't have time to waste on creativity, or I am so busy yet flooded with infinite ideas I don't really have time to record. For the past few months, I've been kind of swinging between both of these options.

When the ideas are coming, I write them down in the notes app on my phone, and when I look at them a week later, I have no idea what I meant. I feel sad when this happens, like I've wasted inspiration.

My newest strategy, which seems to be working thus far, is being incredibly detailed with my writing notes, or even starting the Word document as soon as possible. Since I am on my computer a lot for grad school, it makes it much easier to jot down the ideas in their respective documents. When I think of something new, it is easier to pull it up to work on, or have it in the background of the work I have been focusing on for work or grad school.

This may seem like a bad idea, or multi-tasking (which isn't always the best idea for me), but it has been super helpful for encouraging my creativity and providing space for it to exist without feeling like it interferes. Actually, the poetry that I am getting published soon was all inspired during a class I was in.

It's time for me to prioritize my creativity.

Be Determined, Not Demanding

While we want to encourage our creativity, we don't want to overdo it. By this I mean, we can't bully our creativity into working for us. Sometimes we feel burnt out or tired. It doesn't always spark when we expect it to.

I have certainly had days in the last few months where I actually had the time to write, and yet nothing happened. At first, I leaned into the negative self-talk. ("Why can't you just do this?" "Isn't there something you can write?")

I realized after engaging in negative self-talk, that it was not creating a healthy relationship with my creativity. Instead, I decided I would be determined to be as creative as I could be, without demanding more from myself than I have capacity for. I need to be gentle with myself and my creativity. It's powerful yet delicate.

I believe there is a way to be determined to focus on my writing without feeling hopeless about the times I am not writing. There is freedom in that, too.

Revisit Your Work

Being a lifelong writer, I have a lot of writing projects that have been put on the back burner for quite a long time, especially after taking that two year break. When I started thinking about writing again, I re-opened all my old documents and read through every document I had worked on in 2020/2021. There were some painful ones to read, for sure. But mostly, I found some gems, ones that inspired me all over again.

Not only is it nice to revisit your work to appreciate what you are capable of (or what you could improve), but you can learn a lot about yourself and what worked for your writing. While I was rereading my old work, I noticed that I wasn't even resonating with the writing as much as I was resonating with the Nichelle who wrote those pieces many moons ago.

I remember what it felt like to have creativity all around me, a magic sparkle following me everywhere I turned. I was so invested in my writing and myself. Even thinking about it now, that feeling is visceral; it makes my heart pump faster, thinking about how much fun I had.

This is the main reason I decided to try really hard to get back into writing. I felt like myself when I was writing, and I felt on top of the world. Inspiration really was at my fingertips. What's changed?

I believe what changed was my ability to identify worth in myself and my craft; I've learned a lot about self-love these past two years (and I'm a counselor-in-training now, so of course I preach all the self-care and self-love). This means identifying with the version of myself how's dedicated to being my authentic writing self, and figuring out how I can build upon that, to grow even more.

I am so excited to continue reviving my spark and learn so much about myself and my writing in the process.

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I am an aspiring author with dreams of making the world a better place through kindness. I am so glad to have you with me on my writing journey. 

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