Filling the Creative Well
Being a writer is awesome. You just sit down, close your eyes, say your mantra, put fingers to keys… And floof! The words flow in a torrent of rainbows, unicorns, plot twists, and…
Yeah, that’s not how it happens. Writing is hard work, especially for those of us with day jobs. I use a lot of emotional energy – and creativity – in my private psychology practice. My writing keeps me sane for my practice, but how do I keep myself fresh for my writing?
In her very popular book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron encourages creatives to go on an “artist’s date” weekly. I think this is a great idea, however you want to define an artist’s date. Here are a few other strategies that may help you replenish that creative well.
Reading Good – or Any – Books
Yes, I’m pushing the easy button for my first answer. It’s true, though. Reading inspires writing, whether it’s something you want to imitate or the book you want to read but isn’t out there yet.
One piece of advice I’ve heard is to analyze as we read so we can see what other authors do well or poorly. This is not the kind of reading I mean. I’m encouraging you (and me) to read for fun. I’m guessing I’m not the only writer who lets this important habit slip when in the throes of deadlines, the pressure to release a book every other day, and other stresses we put on ourselves. One morning last week, I allowed myself the treat of finishing an ebook – and a cup of coffee – while sitting in my pajamas at the dining room table with a cat on my lap. It was glorious. Now I have the fun of trying to figure out how to duplicate that experience and what to read next.
Consuming Other Art
“I need to get out of my head.” How many times have I heard that in my practice, which is focused on insomnia and tends to attract the overachieving type? A lot. In fact, someone said that in my office today.
One of the best ways to get out of one’s head and to still engage creative processes is to seek out other artistic avenues. Last week, my husband and I went to the Phillips Collection art exhibit of impressionistic and modern art at the High Museum here in Atlanta. I enjoyed reading not only how the artists themselves found inspiration, but also how art collector Duncan Phillips decided to group and display them. It helped me to see the art in a new way.
Interact with Stories in Other Ways
A follow-up to the above is to go beyond written words and visual media and add an auditory channel to enhance the experience. Hubby and I saw the musical Come From Away this past weekend, and I’ve still got the beat from “I Am An Islander” stuck in my head. Pay attention to the mood that movies and television shows add through their soundtracks. How can you inspire yourself to add that to your own stories?
Jump into Your Senses
My Myers-Briggs type is INFJ, which means introverted-iNtuitive-Feeling-Judging. My primary function, or the one I’m most comfortable using, is introverted intuition. Yep, I’m very inward-focused. My least preferred function? Extroverted sensing, which is interacting with the outside world through my five senses. But guess which helps me to balance myself? Yep, that Extroverted Sensing thing.
Even if you don’t share my personality type, you may benefit from doing activities that help you get out of your head and into the sensory world. Like what? Cooking can be great — also gardening. If you’re feeling brave, dancing. Or maybe even painting or some other channel that makes you use abilities beyond the verbal ones we rely so heavily upon.
What do you think? How do you replenish your creative well? Of course I think that pre-ordering Rogue Skies and grabbing Rogue’s Gallery is a great way to get some good quality reading – and relaxation – time in. How else? Please comment with your thoughts below.