Filling the Well

Jessie: Gleefully gazing at crocuses sprinkling the lawn!

wish-704561_1280The snow is mostly melted and sooner rather than later, wells will be filled to the brim with the year’s supply of water, water that will be used to make things grow. Which got me thinking about the well of creativity and how that needs replenishing too.Creativity relies heavily on connecting and combining seemingly unrelated elements in new and unexpected ways. In order to make those combinations you have to have a lot of material floating around in the subconscious. Over the last few years I’ve come to realize how valuable it is  to recognize when I am starting to run dry and how best to address the problem before it develops into a drought. Here are a few of my tried and true strategies:

1. Take a long walk with a good friend. My favorite walking friend is one of my beloved sisters. We tool along country roads solving the world’s problems and many of our own as well. All that brainstorming and oxygen flow fires my creativity.

2. Try a new food. I’m a decent cook and I like experimenting with all sorts of recipes from around the world. New flavors are one way I like to awaken my senses and to enjoy some of life’s little surprises.

3. Map a new route to a routine destination. Ever wonder where a road goes? Ever turned left when you usually go right? Discovered a shortcut that you never realized existed? Shaking things up in the physical world can do the same for your mental map.

4. Make batch decisions. When I am writing a first draft and things are grinding along slowly I try to reduce as many decisions from my life as possible. The creative energy required to make decisions can leave too little left over for large-scale projects. In order to ration the supply I plan what I will wear, a menu for a week at a time and my schedule to the greatest extent possible. By eliminating the need to think about what to have for lunch or when to exercise I can turn more of my mind over to red herrings and plot holes.

5. Spend time pursuing another creative discipline. I love to knit. I always have at least two projects on the needles at any given time. I find the time I spend knitting does something to my brain that nothing else seems to do.I even keep a pair of needles and a ball of yarn on my desk most of the time to help me sort things out. Whenever I get to a sticking point in a draft I pick up the needles and fall into a sort of meditation mode. Ideas usually begin to flow once more. It works with other pursuits too like gardening or painting; anything so long as it doesn’t rely on the same set of skills as the main creative endeavor.

So readers, how do you refill your creative wells?

14 Thoughts

  1. I love this, Jessie. Walking does it for me, but going solo works better. Also getting organized, making lists, getting little stuff out of the way helps to not have that stuff hanging over my head and my desk.

  2. Great ideas, Jessie. You have to let your brain work on its own, without nudging it every minute–hello? Where’s that new idea? Doing something unrelated and/or physical is a great way to shift gears. And hard though it may seem, you have to give your writing mind time to let the well refill–and believe that it will!

  3. My walks with Lily in the woods are great. Our yard isn’t fenced so that means four walks a day — some longer, some shorter. We walk slowly so I noticed lots of things: how fungus is growing on a log, a tiny leaf quivering when nothing else seems to be moving, and lots of faces in trees — so many faces I start to creep myself out.

  4. Sounds like all thing to let your mind relax and subconsciously work out the problem in your fiction.

    Personally, I find running is a great way to let go of things and refresh myself. I also find that writing a neutral or negative review works wonders and I can then focus on writing positive reviews again. So yes, those things I watched or read and didn’t like do come in helpful. (I’d never just write a negative review because I needed to.)

  5. I love to sit and read, and I’ve had zero time lately to do that. So looking forward to an afternoon of a good book…soon!

    1. Reading is another of my favorites. It’s a lot like Barb’s recommendation of travel, isn’t it. Even if it is of the armchair variety!

  6. Great thoughts. I am not organized enough to plan in advance, so I have found that I go with the flow and it works. I try not to worry, do not get out of sorts if things go awry and live in the moment as much as I can. My dog Tyler is a wonderful teacher of this way of living. When I became disabled and lost some important things in my life, this is what kept me going. That and finding amazing cozy series like yours!!

    1. Being in the moment and creative flow do seem to go hand in hand, don’t they? And nothing erodes creativity for me like worry. Thanks for pointing that one out and for your kind words about my series. I really appreciate them, Kay!

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