Refueling Creativity

Sometimes I don’t feel like writing. It has nothing to do with time or my day job or family and household responsibilities (though those things do stand in my way more often than I should allow). It has everything to do with my creative well running dry.

When my creative well starts pulling up more sand than water, no amount of dedicated butt-in-chair writing time will fix it. The creative fuel I burn when writing is generated almost solely by other creative pursuits.

Prior to the writing retreat I went on last fall, I spent several weeks working on a scrapbook. There were two main reasons for this.

The first reason was that I wanted to surprise the rest of the Ferrets with an album detailing the events of our last four vacations. We like to take a lot of photos, but until now they have only lived as files on our computers. A scrapbook would be the perfect way to enjoy those memories properly.

The second reason was that I really needed to work on something creative that was not writing. I still had ideas and the desire to see them on paper, but the words and patience to work with them had been gone for months. My creative well hadn’t seen water all summer.

Creating this scrapbook was the perfect project for me. It fed my nostalgia, required only minimal writing, refocused my efforts to graphic design instead of adjectives and metaphors, and gave me a reasonable but firm deadline. By the last week or two prior to the retreat, I was chomping at the bit to have my notebook and pen back again.

But the projects to refuel your creativity don’t have to be so large.

My coloring page from retreat

My coloring page from retreat

The other surprise I brought with me on the retreat was a stack of coloring books and brand new packages of crayons and colored pencils. The dining room table of our cabin became the “art station” and each of us took frequent breaks to color instead of writing, drawing, blogging, and coding. It settled our minds and made us feel like kids again.

When you’ve hit a rut with your art, find a project in a differing medium to which you can turn your attention. It keeps creativity flowing while giving you a rest where you need it most.

Your mind is like a farmer’s field; if you only plow and plant the same plot, eventually the crop will suffer.

How do you refuel your own creativity?

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6 thoughts on “Refueling Creativity

  1. READING. I’ve been reading a lot more over the past month to recharge my writing batteries. Reading good books gets me excited to tell my own stories, and reading bad books makes me chomp at the bit to write something I can fix. XD

    And those were WONDERFUL surprises for our retreat! I had so much fun. 🙂

  2. Like you, I need to also do something visually creative, or tactile, like knit or crochet. But when I’m really feeling creatively depleted I have to stop producing altogether and just devote some time to taking in other people’s work. Reading (both fiction and non-fiction), looking at art, listening to music or creative podcasts, going outside and looking at nature . . . this is usually the stuff that inspires me and makes me want to start writing and making again.

    • I wish I knew how to knit or crochet or something else of the kind. I’ve always thought it would be soothing, but I’m not sure I have the patience to learn. XD I love all the ways you take a break to refuel your creativity. Do you have any favorite podcasts or specific episodes you want to recommend?

      • I used to think I wouldn’t have the patience for it, but when I was in my senior year of college I was desperate for something to relieve stress and decided to try knitting. And it is actually very soothing. I’d be happy to teach you sometime.

        Right now my favorite episodic podcasts are The Black Tapes and TANIS (which just wrapped its first season), both faux documentary horror podcasts done in the style of Serial. If you’ve read and enjoyed House of Leaves you’ll definitely enjoy TANIS. I also get a kick out of Welcome to Nightvale, and I’ve recently started listening to Lore, which isn’t episodic, so you can pick up anywhere. It examines modern day folklore and urban legends. And if you’re a Buffy fan you’ll enjoy the Dusted podcast on Storywonk.com, where they break down each episode and examine the writing.

        • I have only read a portion of House of Leaves. I enjoyed what I read and I put it down just because I was too busy at the time. I’d like to try reading it again. Thanks for the podcast recommendations! A couple of those are things that look like something I’d enjoy. And maybe someday we’ll have to get together for knitting lessons. I can’t promise I’d be any good at it, but I’d be more than happy to spend afternoons with you chatting and at least trying to learn how to knit. =)

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