Illustration by  
January 18, 2022

Finding inspiration and renewed energy in new creativity

It’s easy to get stuck as a writer. A passion project may seem shiny and attractive at first, but when the white-knuckle work segues into hair-pulling distress at finding the right ending to a section those feelings of euphoria can fall dramatically.

You may have run the course of a certain niche, propelling you to consider another avenue of creative output.

In my 20-plus years as a writer, I’ve found a helpful strategy to renew the energy I need to fuel my writing endurance: trying a new form of creativity to spark, once again, that inspiration required to keep going in my field.

My area of creativity has revolved around spoken word and written poetry, but those genres weren’t always soaking up my creative time. In my early days as a writer, I dove into short story and novel writing, so much so I ended up with four novels and two short story collections by the time I was 22. But all that keyboard-pounding took a lot out of me; I felt my creative stamina lagging.

At that time, I was reminded of the words of poet Naomi Shihab Nye: “Two helpful words to keep in mind at the beginning of any writing adventure are pleasure and spaciousness. If we connect a sense of joy with our writing, we may be inclined to explore further.”

 I felt I had to write novels and short stories, because isn’t that what I always wanted, even if I didn’t get as much joy out of it as I used to? Thing is, as much as I felt comfortable in the novelist lane, I wanted to see where else I could drive my creative forces, what else flowed from my daydreaming.

So along came spoken word poetry, a form of performance that was becoming increasingly popular and accessible in my hometown of Toronto, and in fact across Canada. Performing at poetry slams and open mics were exciting for a young writer who now found a new way to lay out ideas and beliefs in a format where I received instant feedback from audiences on what worked and what didn’t.

What I also found gratifying is how I could write short snippets of literary insight, instead of dedicating myself to one set of characters over a year or two.

It can be difficult to shift from a writing mode aligned with your identity for so many years. I thought, “Does this mean I’m going to never return to novel writing? Will I lose the zeal I had for writing these long chapters and in-depth characters?” It’s an anxiety I still carry with me, but I’m learning to recognize a key lesson from my foray into poetry: Just because you stray from your first creative path, it doesn’t mean you won’t return to it.

 In fact, within my spoken word poetry, I’ve infused some work with prose and short-story-like characters. I realize my departure from novel-writing wouldn’t fully leave me.

Now that I’m facing another creative shift—moving into solo show theatre work after more than 18 years of writing spoken word poetry—I discovered a few takeaways I’d like to share with anyone moving from one creative form to another:

· Discipline still matters. When I delved into a new form of creative writing, I had to maintain the routine and schedule that kept me so anchored to my seat every day with my previous passion projects. Just because the format I chose resulted in shorter drafts didn’t mean I couldn’t relax my schedule. In fact, looking at my transition from novels to poems, writing a shorter piece required a different kind of determination to find le mot juste, as the French say, to express what I needed to say in a stanza, say.

· Finding new ways to express yourself can be invigorating. Thanks to developing a new solo show about my father, I’m progressing past the short-form mode I’ve grown accustomed to as a poet who writes pieces at around the three-page mark. Now with a show requiring 60 minutes of script, I’m inspired to see how I can share my recollections and opinions about my family in a format that lets the story breathe more. Being constrained by page limits got same-old after awhile. It’s fine to write delectable appetizers but now I want to enjoy fulfilling entrees.

· Reaching mini-milestones made the longer journey more achievable. When you write shorter pieces, finishing one can leave you flushed with the thrill of winning a race. I did it, this poem is done, let’s celebrate! But with longer projects such as solo shows, I had to add more checkpoints along the way  to keep myself motivated. For example, I told myself I could celebrate when I reached one-quarter of the intended final draft, or when I finished a section about my brother. Accomplishing those relevant goals can make the deep work much more palatable.

· Every project deserves its own marketing roadmap. Once something is done, whether it’s a novel or short story or solo show, it has to be marketed by the author effectively, especially if you’re working by yourself and don’t have the backing of a publisher or PR personnel. That means understanding the tech tools available, such as Facebook Ads and YouTube trailers, and recognizing what may fit for a poetry collection may not work well for a theatre show. Tailoring marketing strategies to each project will also give you quick self-education on an oft-overlooked nuance of being an artist. After all, no one else is going to promote your work for you.

Experimenting with a new way to be creative can be challenging and overwhelming, but its benefits can strengthen your writing skill and marketing acumen. You may not cultivate this new form of writing into a full-time career or hobby, but even a dip into new waters can be a refreshing way to gain a different outlook on your practice.

David Silverberg is a published poet, spoken word artist and theatre artists whose next solo show will debut in Toronto in 2022. His non-fiction work has been published in BBC News, The Washington Post, New Scientist, The Toronto Star and many more. Find out more about David via DavidSilverberg.ca

Learn how you can turn your freelance gig into a money making business. It’s FREE!

Free 15 min freelancing consultation call
Advice and practical steps to level up your business
Learn how to consistently find work
Get tips for finding your niche

Recommended Reading

It isn’t you. Really!

Let’s face it. Freelancing is still a pioneering career choice. As a career path we’rebeyond Ferrari-speed, and closer to Apollo 11. Twenty years ago, freelancing hardlyregistered, and the closest thing to Upwork.com or Freelancer.com was...

How to survive freelancer interviews and chats

You may have gone into freelancing to avoid ever having to do interviews. Well, sadly, in same cases you may have to. So here's a guide to interviewing as a freelancer.

How to detach your self-worth from your work

When you wear every hat needed for your business to succeed, it's difficult to let your head get a rest. This is only made worse if you are defined by your KPI's. So how do...

How to tackle portfolio procrastination

How to tackle portfolio procrastination

Making good portfolios is crucial for your freelance business, but it can be tempting to procrastinate. Check out UnderPinned’s Virtual Office for portfolio templates to fill and send to clients!

The difference between Portfolios and Proposals

The difference between Portfolios and Proposals

So you’re hunting for freelance work? Well, what do you say when a potential client asks for a proposal rather than a portfolio? Have a read to see.

Freelancing with ADHD

Freelancing with ADHD

Freelancing is for everyone. But a job that requires skills you struggle with can make freelancing with ADHD difficult. Hear from an expert and a freelancer with ADHD about how she makes it work.

Freelancing with ADHD

Freelancing with ADHD

Freelancing is for everyone. But a job that requires skills you struggle with can make freelancing with ADHD difficult. Hear from an expert and a freelancer with ADHD about how she makes it work.

How to go freelance straight after uni

How to go freelance straight after uni

How do you go freelance straight after uni? You honestly ask yourself if you’re ready, and then you just lean into it 100%. And you read this article to find out more.

How to go freelance straight after uni

How to go freelance straight after uni

How do you go freelance straight after uni? You honestly ask yourself if you’re ready, and then you just lean into it 100%. And you read this article to find out more.

Signs of a weak freelance portfolio that clients spot at once

Signs of a weak freelance portfolio that clients spot at once

What signs in your portfolio are you hoping that clients see? And what are you hoping will be good filler? Make sure you’re only putting things in there that you can defend

Signs of a weak freelance portfolio that clients spot at once

Signs of a weak freelance portfolio that clients spot at once

What signs in your portfolio are you hoping that clients see? And what are you hoping will be good filler? Make sure you’re only putting things in there that you can defend

Ten actionable tips for freelancers to relieve their WFH fatigue

Ten actionable tips for freelancers to relieve their WFH fatigue

WFH has been tough. But, a year into the change for many people, there are still learnings to be had. Zoom past fatigue with our tips

Ten things you should never say to a freelancer

Ten things you should never say to a freelancer

Vent your client frustrations through us! A must read for anyone that hires/knows/ever talks to a freelancer, here’s ten things never to say to a freelancer

Kill The Boss In Your Head: Freelancing and Creativity

Kill The Boss In Your Head: Freelancing and Creativity

Through the tension and anxiety at the heart of all paid freelance work, what are the conditions that best support the free-flowing of creativity?

One year ago I turned to freelancing to save my mental health: Here’s what happened

One year ago I turned to freelancing to save my mental health: Here’s what happened

Fiona Thomas writes on her switch to freelancing pushed by her mental health, and how someone in a similar scenario can benefit from the change

A guide to being a creative freelancer without social media

A guide to being a creative freelancer without social media

We could all do with a break from social media. But how do you continue to run your creative freelance business without your Instagram? Here’s a guide.

An extension of your arm: Must-have tools for freelance content creators

An extension of your arm: Must-have tools for freelance content creators

Want an aresenal of tools in your pocket that can make your freelance life expontentially easier? Look no further

The role of the creative brief and why it’s so vital to get right

The role of the creative brief and why it’s so vital to get right

Here’s how to be clear with clients about what you need from their brief, and what they should expect from you too in the beginnings of the conversation

Building it alone; Freelancing when you’re single

Building it alone; Freelancing when you’re single

Being freelance is tough enough. But doing it all alone can make it a lot more complicated. Here’s how to take some steps to make it easier on you.

A guide to juggling multiple freelance clients

A guide to juggling multiple freelance clients

You want freelance success? You probably will need more than one client. Finding them is one thing, but keeping them organised? Oh boy. Luckily we have a guide just for you.

Freelance journalists, here’s how to make ALCS work for you

Freelance journalists, here’s how to make ALCS work for you

If you’re a freelance journalist, you might have a chance at passive income from the ALCS that you didn’t know about.

How writers and journalists can make money with Substack

How writers and journalists can make money with Substack

Want to escape from the editorial loop? Substack is on everyone’s lips right now. But how can you use it as a writer?

How to Position Yourself as an Expert in your Field

How to Position Yourself as an Expert in your Field

Want to learn how to position yourself as an expert in your field as a freelancer? Rachel White of House of DIF walks you through all the steps you need to take.

The Rise of NFTs and ‘Crypto-art’

The Rise of NFTs and ‘Crypto-art’

Want to learn what all the fuss is about? NFTs have been around for awhile, but how can freelancers use them in their business? Well, there’s a couple of ways.

HELP! I’M A RECENT ARTS GRADUATE

HELP! I’M A RECENT ARTS GRADUATE

Jody Mulvey of SADGRADS writes on how recent art graduates can surpass the problems posed by moving into the world of work during this difficult year

A step-by-step guide to handling difficult clients

A step-by-step guide to handling difficult clients

We all have that annoying client that we’re unsure how to work with. So here’s a step by step guide to handling difficult freelance clients.

A step-by-step guide to handling difficult clients

A step-by-step guide to handling difficult clients

We all have that annoying client that we’re unsure how to work with. So here’s a step by step guide to handling difficult freelance clients.

Nine ways to maternity proof your freelance business

Nine ways to maternity proof your freelance business

Pregnant and a freelancer? We can’t wait to hear more. But make sure you know how to maternity proof your freelance business before you start parenthood.