Well, I’m back. It’s been a while and I appreciate all of you, my wonderful readers for being patient. NaNoWriMo, work, and the holidays left me in sore need of some recovery.
I am happy to announce that I have had that recovery (at least I hope!) and I will start posting once or twice a week again.
Today’s post is a repost of an article I originally wrote for my friend Schuyler over at My Lady Bibliophile (which, if you have never read her blog, I insist you drop what you are doing and check it out!), on the creative process. Enjoy.
Keeping your creativity can be a tricky thing. After all, writing is a constant act of producing: pouring everything you’ve got onto that page. On top of that, it is easy to fall into writing ruts, to form clichés, and to burn yourself out. And yet we are expected to be fresh, original, and entertaining all the time. All of us experience those moments where we can’t seem to put anything worthwhile on the page. It feels like our well of inspiration has simply dried up. While sometimes that just happens (we all have our bad days), here are a few tips to make those times fewer and farther between.
Surround yourself with quality. When I read a good book, or even watch a well-made film, nine times out of ten my first urge is to write, whereas if I’ve read a cheap book I feel at best nothing, and at the worst. I am sapped of both inspiration and energy. What you read shows in your writing. And the quality of what you read will (eventually, if not immediately) affect the quality of what you write.
Challenge yourself. In his book The Art of War for Writers, James Scott Bell talks about challenging yourself in areas where you are weak, and he says this: “…be sure to push yourself beyond what is comfortable. Well beyond. Because you can always scale back later. But if you don’t allow yourself the fullness of exploration up front, you may miss the rich vein waiting for you just a few more steps ahead.” Great plots, characters, and books don’t come from writers staying inside their comfort zone.
Choose the unexpected. When you think of a plot, a character, or a circumstance, choose of the option that the readers would least expect. What if the little old lady next door wasn’t really going to the bridge club every week…what if she was planning a robbery?
Enjoy other things deeply. Strangely, for a profession that is portrayed as (and often looks like) a person sitting alone at a desk, writing is far more about living life than most jobs. If you are out loving other things, you will rarely lack the passion it takes to write well and to write creatively.
Try new things. Some of my greatest creative breakthroughs have come when I’ve been brave and tried something new. At times it is attempting that story concept even when I’m not quite sure I can pull it off, or engaging in games I have never played, or trying food I have never eaten. More than once I’ve had a film I wasn’t very interested in watching totally open up a new story or plotline.
Learn (or utilize) a different art form. I play a few different instruments, and I enjoy drawing, horseback riding, and dancing, among other things. Something I’ve learned from years of participating in other arts (and trust me, riding dressage is an art!) is that it works like cross-training. When you learn and create art in other forms it stretches creative muscles that aren’t used as often in writing and stimulates your creative juices in general. And the good news is, you don’t even have to be all that good at any of these other art forms for it to work. The simple act of participating is enough to get your brain stimulated creatively.
What inspires your creative process?