There are times when the words flow forward, a strong unstoppable current that carries anything in its path. Then there are other times when the words come in a trickle, a slow moving stream, jammed with pebbles in some spots and boulders in others. And every once in a while, the flow becomes stagnant–whether because of life circumstances or because you’re simply drained from working too much.
This is such a natural part of the process! Frustrating, yes, but normal. Just recently, I had to stop working on my WIP for a while. The words were drying up, not because they weren’t there but because my body was going through a rough patch. Not only was I flaring with the lupus and fibro, but I’d developed tendonitis in my shoulder, severe spasms in my cervical area, and my wrists were swollen. Talk about getting creativity sucked out of you!
So how do you find motivation when the words just won’t come? When you’ve dried up from the inside?
You find inspiration somewhere else. All you need is a spark–a hearty, healthy spark–to trigger one creative endeavor. Imagine a dam of twigs. The spark loosens a small hole that lets some water in, a trickle. Then that trickle grows and widens so it’s a stream. The process continues, trickle, stream, until there’s so much pressure the dam breaks and a torrent of water pours over the wreckage, burying it.
Inspiration and motivation work this way. I’ve held hard and fast to this idea for a while now, and it helps every single time. Here are some things I’ll do to help myself heal and bring the power on.
- I read. Think of reading and a fountain filled with new words, phrases, and ideas. When you’re feeling depleted of words, reading will renew you. I love to imagine that as I read, the words from the book I’m reading seep into my pores, satiating me. And in doing so, satisfying a deep thirst. Not only do ideas beget ideas, but words beget words. It’s such a beautiful thing. Sometimes, I only have to read one book to feel replenished. Other times I have to read more. But every time, it works.
- I change activities. Instead of pushing myself even harder when I’m already on empty, I’ll do something else. Maybe I’ll take my son to the park and, if I’m feeling up to it physically, I’ll play with him with the soccer ball. If I’m not up to it, maybe I’ll take him out somewhere, or we’ll play a board game. Or we’ll read one of his books together. Or maybe I’ll go sight-seeing with my husband around town. Or maybe I’ll take a “mini-cation” and do something I want to do–by myself. Maybe I’ll see a movie I’ve been wanting to see. Maybe I’ll sit by the bay and listen to the water lapping against the seawall, or I’ll . Maybe I’ll go shopping! I do something to shift from my current state of mind and that can be enough to loosen the words out of me.
- I try another genre or category. One of the things I love about writing for different age categories or genres, is that when I’m feeling drained in one area, I can simply cross over to another and it’s fresh, new words. A new feel. A new idea or direction–and that’s enough to get me back on track.
- I try another creative activity. I love photography. I love to draw (though I’m not really good at it lol). I love crafts. When I’m feeling bogged down and uninspired, sometimes all I have to do is to get my brain on another creative endeavor and I feel refreshed. Other authors paint. Or write music. Or are graphic designers. Any creative exercise outside of writing can fuel your words!
- I find my way to nature. There’s something to be said about letting nature fill you with peace from the inside out and letting that peace dislodge the words from you.
So what do you do to get your words back?