Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Squeeze Some Fresh Creative Juice

The holidays are over. The days are growing longer at a snail’s pace and February Blues loom large. How do you get back in the groove? How do you tap your creative spirit? Where can you find the secret to renew your energy and interest in those projects you started last fall?

Here are a few suggestions.

Seek Out an Interesting Conversation…or at Least an Interesting Conversationalist
            Do you know someone with an interesting hobby or profession? Someone who holds a different perspective on life? Strike up a conversation with someone older than you…or younger. Spend some time with someone from a different cultural perspective. You can share your views, but your real job here is to listen.
I recently had a conversation with a seven-year-old. He told me that when he grows up he wants to have a farm where he and his wife will live. His brother and his wife will live in a house on the same farm and so will his sister and her husband.  His mother is expecting a baby in August so Jeremiah has also planned for his newest sibling to have a home on the farm. “I’m going to build a big house in the middle with four or five bedrooms and a kitchen so when we have company, they can stay there,” he told me. Seven years old and he’s building a family compound in his head. Interesting.

How does this help me as a writer? After that particular conversation, I began thinking about what a family compound might look like if I designed one for my children and grandchildren. My compound had a golf course, hiking and biking trails, a swimming pool, craft room, and a chapel. It was self-supporting with roles for all members of my family. My creative juices were flowing. The mental exercise was refreshing. I may never use the setting in a book, but then again, I may. I’ll know who receives credit in the acknowledgement section.

Pick the Brains of an “Expert.” Learn Well Grasshopper.
            I’m not necessarily talking about a professional, but someone who has mastered a particular skill or has become well versed in a subject. Recently, my toilet continued to run. (Stay with me here.) Water wasn’t leaking onto the floor so I knew something was wrong inside the tank. My first thought was to consult my good friend, Google, for advice. I watched a few YouTube videos on toilet repair. None of them looked much like the plumbing in my house. I turned the water off going into the tank and went to bed. The next day, I called a good friend who, though not a plumber, is a pretty good handyman. Like Tom, he isn’t afraid to tackle any problem. I described the problem and Bob came over with a little red rubber ring in hand. Here is the best part. He didn’t’ fix the toilet for me. He stood there and talked me through the process. I fixed the toilet!

How does this help me as a writer? I felt empowered. I walked around all day with that sort of  “if I can do this, I can do anything” feeling. Furthermore, I’m convinced the more I know and understand how the world works, the better I can address any issue arising in my book.

Connect with an Old Friend
You can do this…and I’m not talking about Facebook here! Call a friend and have lunch or a cup of coffee. Spend time catching up on each other’s lives. Reminisce and revive old dreams. You have a history with this person. You can be yourself. You don’t need to run every idea through a filter or explain where you are coming from in your thinking.

How does this help me as a writer? My friends will often ask me to tell them about my latest project. I try desperately to not bore them. Yet I find that even by offering a quick version of what I’m writing, talking about it renews my interest in it.

Find Your Theme Song
            One cloudy day last week I dug up an old CD: Greatest Hits of the 70’s. It was fun and energizing. I don’t want to scare you, but yes, I danced around the kitchen singing along into my wooden spoon “microphone.” November 29, 2014, a writer friend posted the original Simon and Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water on Facebook and dedicated it to me. He had no way of knowing that song was in my wedding. I clicked on the YouTube site and turned the volume up full blast.

How does this help me as a writer? Music touches every creative fiber of our being. It clears my thinking. I happen to like all kinds of music so different genres inspire me in different ways. I’ve considered several songs to claim as my theme song. Those have changed over time with new life experiences, but each book I write seems to have a song of its own. What is your theme song?

Rise to the Challenge
This year I’ve been challenged to
·      Read a book a week
·      Write a thousand words a day as part of the 365K Club
·      Walk 10,000 steps a day
Yep, there are challenges out there. Challenges to read, write, lose weight, meet new people, try new foods, travel more, or join a club. You name it. The challenges are there. The key is to not say yes to everything but yes to one or two challenges. I decided to accept the read a book a week and walk 10,000 steps a day. I’ve also decided to write a review for each book I read.

How does this help me as a writer?  I did not sign up for the 365K Club challenge. That may surprise you. It may appear as the most obvious for a writer. Taking challenges outside of my writing world stretches me. And walking clears my head, gets me away from the computer screen, and gives me time to think through the plot or characters or rehearse the dialogue I’m about to write.

What Else? Where do you go to drink in a little creative juice?     


  1. I do believe my juices are beginning to flow... with 37.. (did I mention only THIRTY-SEVEN?) more working days, I'm excited that I have 2 paid working assignments pending (one completed and sent this past weekend!)....and an off-the-wall story idea that keeps appearing in my head for a, ready for this?, children's nonfiction book.... anywho.... the retirement date almost upon us is what is motivating me to get out of my warm bed when it's...... 30 degrees! (in Florida?) what!?!?!?! love you! miss you! another inspiring post! .... my theme song.... All Right Now - Free... seems I always hear it when I need it!

    1. Thirty-seven! Yay! Your outlook is inspiring. I should include a "look at your calendar" piece here. What is coming? Instead of dreading change or winter or "yet another birthday," we can use the date as an opportunity to set a new goal or a deadline for doing something new. For example, Sue Austin has always planned to visit all 50 states before she turned 60. In her late 50's she expressed that unfulfilled dream to a friend. The friend said, "Hey, you're not 60 yet!" She not only visited all 50 in a whirlwind tour, she wrote a book about it and became inspired to zip line across the country as well which became a second book! Thanks for dropping by and leaving a compliment. And congrats on retirement!


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