Replenishing the Creative Well
[Today's guest post is about the very important topic of keeping your creative well topped up and how reading (and other things) can help. Huge thanks to wonderful writer Audra Atoche for this one. Audra is currently Pitch Wars-ing - go wish her luck!]
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Writers, you know it’s true–this is the season for getting ish done.
A long line of writing competitions, pitch parties, writing sprints, and deadlines stretch before us as we approach the holidays. We’re spending every second trying to make magic happen before the industry basically shuts its doors until well after the new year. Maybe, like me, you’ve been pushing like this for months–focusing on the goal you set and forsaking all other free-time enjoyments. That’s cool. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But here’s the deal: We can’t work in a void.
I think sometimes we believe all of our inspiration should come only from that nebulous part of our souls where creativity dwells–an infinite tap we can turn on and off whenever we like. But if you’ve ever experienced a block before, you’re aware that’s not how it works. Our inspiration center can run dry. It gets used up, tired, stretched too thin. When we’re constantly outputting and not giving ourselves opportunities to let the wellspring refresh itself, we risk the worst of the worst: Burnout.
If you’re a creative, you’ve probably experienced those times when your thoughts feel empty and your brain feels tired. You can’t write another word, draw another line, play another note. You’re just DONE. I don’t have the secret to totally avoiding burnout and writer drought, but I know what works for me.
I take a break and switch from output to input mode.
I’ll read book after book, watch movies, listen to music and podcasts and let the creativity and inspiration of others wash over me. It’s amazing what a little of that can do to get things working again. Blocks are most likely to happen when we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for that last bit of creative stamina that we haven’t allowed ourselves to restock. So next time you sense it coming on, or you’ve been staring at your screen for an hour with nothing to show for it, back away.
Go in short spurts, back and forth between input and output like a well-oiled machine. Or go until the tank is empty, until you’re running on those very last fumes, then stop and take a long break–stuff yourself with good, inspiring things (I do the latter). As long as you’re remembering to replenish, the method doesn’t matter.
So go on and schedule the time you need right now–for tomorrow or next month. Just get it on your calendar. Give your muse a vacation. Enjoy all the things. Replenish your well. Writing will be there when you come back.