Getting through a Creative Dry Spell
Blogger: Mary Keeley
Our greatest desire for this blog is to provide fresh information and perspective on the life and business of writing. It’s no small task to do this consistently. Occasionally, okay speaking for myself, more often than you might think I struggle to come up with a topic. We all have times when we struggle with getting through a creative dry spell.
My most productive means of generating creative ideas is to go back to comments on previous blogs or ruminate on my clients’ issues and successes, or research recent happenings in the industry. This works to inspire ideas for my purposes, but when writers experience a dry spell in the midst of writing a book, the way to get through it often isn’t that easy. Some methods from this list might help you.
Put your WIP aside for a few days. Sometimes resting your mind from all external stimuli during a break from your work allows your mind to quietly continue to create scenes or chapters that will be ready for you when you get back to your computer. Other times listening to beautiful music, viewing extraordinary art, reading great literature, or watching an inspiring movie can rekindle the creative flame.
Maybe you picked the wrong subject—or the wrong place to begin your book. Many writers say the hardest part of the process is getting started. If you’re struggling to get the first words on the page, pay attention to reasons for your angst. Perhaps you need to approach your nonfiction topic from a different angle. Or maybe you’re having trouble creating a compelling hook for your novel because you’re starting in the wrong place.
When the complexities begin to overwhelm you, break them down into small bites. This method works for so many tasks in life and may also help you to overcome a creative block when you’re overwhelmed. Take one portion at a time to get something written down in your first draft. Then add another small portion until your creativity begins to flow again.
Get in the habit of ending your writing day when it’s going smoothly. You will always know where and how to get started the next day. It’s hard to stop when the writing is flowing well, but I can attest from personal experience this method works.
Perhaps there is a problem that needs to be fixed. Ask yourself, is what I’ve written boring? Is it not well thought out? Step back to assess where there might be a problem before you lose time and increase frustration on a wrong path. Get help from writing partners or a paid professional critique.
Buck up and get it done. Opinions vary about this method. It works for some, but it isn’t the right approach for everyone or in every situation or for every book.
Take a poll of your social media followers about what they’d like to see happen. When you’re unsure how to solve a crisis in your plot or want to know how best to influence readers with a conclusive argument, consider asking your Facebook fans. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate you value their input and to engage them in your book, which also will motivate them to purchase your book when it’s published. But remember to qualify your invitation upfront by letting them know it’s possible their suggestion might not work in view of the larger plot.
Personal or family crisis drains creative flow. I read a well-known author’s opinion that when professional authors find themselves in a difficult circumstance, they should just plow through and get the work done. Easier said than done. Either they’ve never experienced a crippling emergency or they found a way to disassociate from them. Fortunately, most of us aren’t able to do that. How can an author show characters’ emotions effectively or be sensitive to readers’ emotional response to your topic when he’s emotionally divorced personally? The point is you should grant yourself grace at times like this. If you are experiencing an extraordinary circumstance in your life, the best way to free your creativity might be to release yourself from self-imposed writing demands until the crisis stabilizes. However, authors who are under contract deadline for a manuscript must try to write through a difficult personal season or involve their agent to negotiate a new due date. God knows about your circumstance, and you’ll see his timing is perfect.
What causes your writing well to dry up? What did you do to get past it? Which of these methods do you think would work in getting through a creative dry spell?
Dry spells are frustrating for writers. Choose one of these methods to help rekindle the creative flame. Click to Tweet.
These suggestions can help writers in getting through a creative dry spell. Click to Tweet.