Monday, April 13, 2009
How to Refill Your Creative Well
I’m coming off a crazy-hard writing year where I wrote 3 manuscripts for my BODY MOVERS humorous mystery series so they could be released back to back. I also wrote 3 manuscripts for Harlequin Blaze (romantic comedies), also for back to back release. And I wrote 2 manuscripts for novellas. The schedule tested me physically and mentally, and afterward, I confess, I was zapped. My brain was mush—I could barely remember the names of the characters I’d written, much less come up with something new. But I had more projects on the horizon (after a short break), so I knew I had to do something to recharge my batteries. Here are some tips to regain your creativity if you’re in a slump:
Adjust your Zzzzzzzs. Physically, you need to adjust your sleep patterns up or down to get 7-8 hours sleep. I got way too little sleep most of last year, so now I’m making an effort to go to bed an hour earlier. Conversely, though, too much sleep can leave you feeling lethargic, so if you’ve gotten into the habit of sleeping in, you might want to set your alarm to get up a little earlier and get a jump on the day.
Get moving. Exercise truly is a panacea for the mind and body. Try to break a sweat at least every other day and keep moving for 30 minutes. Cardio exercise delivers oxygen to the brain and makes you more alert. I jump rope for 5 minutes shortly after getting out of bed. For a quick pick-me-up during the day, I do jumping jacks.
Eat well. Don’t put garbage in your body. I’m not the most disciplined eater around, but I do avoid the drive-through and opt for salad occasionally. Be good to your body—feed it well if you expect it to deliver on command.
Be a kid. To jumpstart your creativity, turn to something you used to do to have fun, like color in a coloring book. Or put together a puzzle. Or get out the Play-Doh and make funny shapes. Board games are also good to get your creative juices flowing, as are card games.
Get together with friends. Nothing refills your well like getting together with friends and having a good time. Let your friends buoy you with affection.
Try something new. Jar yourself out of a creative rut by trying something new. For me, that means taking a break from writing novels to write, say, a screenplay.
Set a deadline. Wow, if you’re burnt out, a deadline can sound ominous. But sometimes, you need a goal in order to get you moving again. Maybe it’s a self-imposed deadline, or maybe it’s simply making a to-do list for the next day before you go to bed.
Collaborate. Getting out of a rut is easier if you have a partner to pull/push you along. Working on a project with someone else will help motivate you to get moving, but allow you to share responsibility.
Working writers don’t have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to strike—sometimes we have to give our muse a nudge. Recognizing burnout and being proactive about refilling the creative well are crucial to maintaining your artistic edge!
Stephanie Bond left a corporate computer programming job to write fiction full-time. To date, she’s sold almost 50 romance and mystery novels. Stephanie currently writes the BODY MOVERS humorous mystery series. Books 4, 5 and 6 in the Body Movers series will be released back to back April, May, and June 2009. (Books 1-3 are still available at all Internet bookstores.) For more information, go to www.stephaniebond.com.