Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nightmare on Creative Street

Congratulations to Connie Reece, the winner of our book giveaway this month! Connie, you have won a copy of Patti Hill's latest release Seeing Things
, so shoot us an email with your address please and we'll get it in the mail to you.

Since Halloween is Saturday, I thought I'd blog about the things that go bump in the writer's night. Things that kill creativity. Kill it dead.

How do we create life from lifeless tissue? The fact that I had to ask for my husband's help to think of a title for this post only confirmed my urgent need to figure this out. (Thanks, honey) Most writers experience dry times when the ideas just won't come. What are the causes and what are the cures? Let's button up our lab coats and pull the third switch!

I brainstormed a list of causes for lack of creativity and came up with: fear of failure, fear of transparency, feeling restricted by guidelines/formulas/word counts, burnout, real or imagined criticism, anxiety over deadlines, worry, feeling overwhelmed and stress about life in general. I'll admit that for me, stress is the worst culprit and maybe yours is listed, too. Maybe recognizing it is the first step toward overcoming.

The good news is that we swim in a rich gene pool. Our Creator gave us the desire to write and it's part of what makes us tick. We don't create alone. Here are some ideas for cures:
  • Read widely. Feeding your mind with interesting and thought-provoking material results in interesting and thought-provoking writing. These new ideas can blossom into a story idea or influence the direction of your WIP.
  • Write at the same time every day. This creates memory triggers that can flip on the power switch.
  • Enjoy beauty. Find a quiet place that you love and take time to meditate. Don't write or think about your WIP. Take your lunch to the cemetery. It's quiet and peaceful, and no one knows you're there but God. Or listen to your favorite music without distractions, or take a scenic detour home from the grocery store and listen on your car stereo. It can help you get perspective.
  • Practice ten or fifteen minutes of free style writing. Write about whatever comes into your mind. It's okay to write with abandon and flourish. That's how I picture the Lord pitching armfuls of stars into the galaxy at creation. Or choose a topic like your favorite childhood vacation or your favorite Christmas. The point is, do not stop to rewrite! No one else will read it but you.
  • Write someplace new. Sometimes the same old ideas sit in my office, fish-eyed and lifeless. Taking my laptop to a different environment helps me get away from them and makes room for new ideas.
  • Read about the lives of famous authors. They, too, suffered from periods of dryness and thought their writing was lifeless at times, and they overcame. You will, too.
  • Get out and do something. If you spend all your time in your office bent over your laptop, you will not gather rich experiences that your characters can share. They don't want to be dull.
  • Ask God to refresh you. Ask fellow authors, family and friends to pray. If God calls us to a ministry, He will equip us for the task.
This is just a short list of suggestions. What robs you of your creativity and what have you found helpful? Please share it with us!


Anonymous said...

Those are wonderful suggestions, Debbie. I especially liked the part about finding some solitude in a cemetery. (Probably would focus your mind on eternal realities and why we Christian writers do what we do in the first place.)

Great insights and practical suggestions. As usual, you "know where it hurts" and give us ways to start to fix ourselves -- and our writing.

Carla Gade said...

Thanks, Debbie, for your great ideas! I'm going to have to put many of them into practice. I like the one about writing the same time every day, although that would take some self-discipline wouldn't it?

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Thanks, Latayne and Carla. It is hard to write the same time every day, which for me is early mornings, but after awhile I find that I wake up before my alarm. It builds in triggers if I do it often enough.

Patti Hill said...

I'm blessed to have such a wise and creative friend as you, Debbie. This is true inspiration for me today.

I'll bundle up and take the dog for a walk. The horizon works wonders for me, even when the mountains are shrouded with clouds.

Hey, Tillie! It's time to go bye-bye!

Kathleen Popa said...

Why is it I like the graveyard idea the best? These are great ideas, Debbie. Thank you.

Susan said...

I have one more suggestion. If I can't write where I'm supposed to start, say, at the beginning of a chapter, then I write where I can, and go back and add the beginning later.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Great idea, Susan! Most of us have scenes in our heads and it's beneficial to get them down on paper, even if they're not yet connected. It can start the juices flowing.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

One thing that really helps me is music. I have a playlist of soundtracks and listen to it whenever I write. The sweeping beauty of the music helps me change worlds.

Connie Reece said...

Wow! I've been out of town at a writer's conference (oh, joy!) and just now catching up on my reading--and I find out I've won a copy of Patti Hill's book. Thank you so much!