“I don’t feel like writing today.”
“I don’t know what to write next so I’ll just binge Netflix instead.”
“I have had the worst day, I don’t have the energy to write today.”
“Tomorrow. I’ll write tomorrow.”
We have all said one or more of the above statments at some point while writing. All too often we avoid, procrastinate, and even walk away from a writing session, because our creative well has run dry. Our day job and other responsibilities have sapped all our energy, demanded too much of our brain power, leaving us empty emotionally. When we’re so drained, so full of stress and overwhelm, sitting down and allowing ourselves the space and time to be creative feels impossible.
The idea of refilling the creative well can seem almost as impossible. We know that it can be done, in theory, but when it comes to the actual doing, taking the steps to actually refill, are just as overwhelming, stressful, and beyond our reach. And sometimes, we don’t even know where to begin.
I know that when I am feeling so drained creatively, sometimes sitting by the ocean is the only thing that will help. Sure, I like going into the ocean, jumping in the waves, but it is the sound of the waves that soothes me, that feeds my soul. Sadly for me, I live in the center of North America and the best I can do to get to any kind of body of water, is a muddy river. Getting to the ocean happens only once every few years, if I’m lucky. I have found the following tips help me keep my creative well flowing.
- Writing. I know, it seems counterintuitive, but allowing myself the freedom to dream up something completely new and different from anything I have ever done before creates an energy about the project that makes me want to work on it. The same thing with editing a novel for a submission deadline. Both have given me a reason to continue writing. It helps to remember that what I’m writing doesn’t have to be perfect. No one has to see it until I’m ready. When my well is low, this is a good time to say my writing time is just for me. No distractions, no interruptions, just me alone with my manuscript.
- Pets. Ebby, my bichon/toy poodle has truly become my emotional support/therapy dog (unofficially). While she would prefer I sit on the couch so she can curl up in my lap all evening, spending time with her helps me relax and eases the stress of the day so that I can re-focus my attention on writing. I understand having a pet isn’t possible for many, or maybe you have recently lost your fur-baby and getting another one isn’t in the cards. That’s why I also suggest:
- Nieces and nephews. Mine are young adults now. They aren’t going to snuggle up on my lap for a story. They are a lot of fun, and we go places and do things together, like going to our local comic-con, or anime convention, or watch Netflix. Their youthfulness, and their creative, imaginative spirits, spark the creativity within me.
- Going to readings. I’m a believer in supporting local authors, particularly those who write in the speculative genres so getting out to their readings and book launches to support them does that. It helps me, though, because I am there with a community of writers, reconnecting. I get inspired by the story I am hearing from the author doing the reading, and that often gets my creative well flowing with ideas and thoughts about the projects I’m working on.
- Artist Dates: Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way, talks about weekly Artist Dates. She suggest we take an hour or two each week to get out, do something fun, on our own. I personally find this difficult to do on a weekly basis, but I agree that getting out and allowing myself some time off every now and then helps.
- Reading. Sometimes, it can be the smallest thing, like when your absolute favorite author has a new book out, and you go buy it and then sit down in a coffee shop to read the first few chapters because you can’t wait until you get home.
- Exercise. Go for a walk. Dance it out. Moving the body helps. When I’m stuck on an idea, I go for a walk. If I need to get rid of some stress, I dance it out. Moving, even for thirty seconds can change your outlook, your mood, and shake the creativity loose.
These things are helping me keep my well flowing until I get back to the ocean. What do you do to refill your well?