Life is all about ebb and flow, so when a creative dry spell comes along I’m learning that there’s no need to panic; no reason to question my calling as a writer or doubt that I ever had a grain of ability in the first place. I now know that when the creative juices are ebbing instead of flowing, it’s a natural part of life. These times can also indicate that it is time to put a little extra effort into hearing the Voice of inspiration… to try something different.
Here are six things that help me recharge when I’m feeling uncreative…
1) Tune out the media for a time. Sure, we like to stay informed, but it’s not like we can control what is happening on the news. There are so many assaults on our senses during the course of a day, the last thing we need is to fill every second with a barrage of voices telling us what to think, how to feel, and what disaster might be around the corner for us to panic about. Between the constant diet of marketing messages that greet us on every possible front and the drama that gets ratings for the TV networks… there just has to be a point at which we say “enough is enough” and turn it all off so we can think for ourselves.
2) Give yourself a change of scenery. I like taking a Saturday drive up to Amish Country a few times a year, but a day trip isn’t always an option. So for a quick mid-week pick-me-up, it’s nice to stop by a local park over lunch, take a 20 minute drive, visit a local landmark, or even spend a few minutes out on the deck for a dose of fresh air. Breaks keep you refreshed and prevent you from feeling too self-contained.
3) Music. Music. Music. It’s a mystery to me how reading words on a page might be inspiring, but hearing those same words sung and/or played with beautiful music is downright magical. A half-hour of listening to my favorite songs is like “creativity medicine” for me!
4) Read something brilliant. Even if you’ve read it 50 times, grab a great book and allow it to transport you to a different place mentally. Books with short readings like poetry collections, short stories (such as the Chicken Soup series) or the Bible offer powerful inspiration in bite-sized portions that serve as a ‘creative snack’ of sorts that we can grab in the middle of the day just as we would grab a cup of coffee or a favorite treat when we’re hungry.
5) Trust the creative process. Contrary to what non-creative people may think, creative excellence isn’t a high-powered faucet that can be turned on and off at will (at least for most of us). Good ideas might come in spurts, or trickle in slowly (or not at all) some days. IF the ideas are flowing, go with it! Write them all down so you can pull them out at a later time (perhaps when the ideas aren’t flowing so easily). Keep showing up, keep working hard, but don’t be hard on yourself when you hit a dry spell. Use it as an opportunity to do something nice for yourself rather than judging the process only in terms of production.
6) Get ridiculous. If all else fails, write something that has no future except for your own ridiculous amusement. For instance, I was recently writing something that, no matter how hard I worked, sounded flat, boring and whiny. So I stopped writing the boring piece and completely diverted from the boring path I was on. I opened a new document and worked on a Swine Flu Haiku. I can’t even remember the first thing I was writing because it was so uncreative… and while a Swine Flu haiku isn’t exactly what I want to be known for as a writer, it did help boost me out of my funk!
Those are just a few of the exercises that help me through less-creative seasons (like the one I am currently experiencing). How about you?! How do you nurture your creativity during dry spells?