This summer has been two months of experimentation regarding my writing and what I need in order to be productive. What I have found is that to continue to be productive creatively, you need to feed that creative beast.
Writing is an incredibly solitary activity. You sit in front of your computer or notebook for hours, constructing a world of your own. While it’s rewarding and you wouldn’t have it any other way, it’s hard to do day after day. Burning out is a constant threat, which leads to productivity problems, lack of motivation, and overall blah-ness. It sounded scientific up until that point, didn’t it? It’s true though. As much as we would like to pretend that writers and artists are limitless fonts of creativity, it’s very possible for the well to run dry, and it does, much to our dismay.
Typically my summers consist of me living a mole-like existence where I don’t leave my house unless I have to attend a university function or go to work. This year, I decided to try to get out more and actually do some fun things to boost my creativity. Here are some things I have found that feed that creative beast:
- Read! No seriously, read a book, one you actually want to read. Most writers are fairly avid readers, and I’ve noticed that when I am reading a book or series I enjoy, the words tend to flow more than they would if I was slogging through a book for grad school.
- Color. Or draw or paint. Do something creative that is not your current project. For my birthday, I received one of those adult coloring books and a new box of colored pencils. It’s wonderful. While you’re utilizing someone else’s design, you’re choosing the colors and figuring out how you want it to work. The repetitive nature of coloring also tends to reduce stress and help you reach that zen-like state that is conducive to creative work.
- Get out of the house. Seriously, step away from your computer and go outside. It’s easy to fall into the trap where you sit for 10 hours at a clip staring at Microsoft Word wondering why the muses are being so cruel. Part of you says, “I can’t leave the house! What if I get my mojo back while I’m out?” More than likely, you’ll be enjoying what you’re doing out in the world, but bring a notebook just in case or use the notepad feature on your phone to jot down your idea on the fly. Go to the mall, go to the bookstore, go to the park. My favorite right now is going to the beach or to the water. Water is an incredibly grounding force. If you can, get to the water (lake, ocean, bay, whatever) and take off your shoe and socks. Let your feet soak in the water. I find the ebb and flow of the tide to be an incredibly grounding force. This summer I went on a 3 hour boat tour, and it was wonderful. I brought my notebook, but I was so busy enjoying the water that I didn’t even reach for it. When I got home, it was writing time.
- Watch a little TV. When I say this, I don’t mean an 8 hour binge of Orange is the New Black on Netflix. I mean, sit down and watch something you truly enjoy. Put away your laptop for an hour or two and just enjoy the show. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Project Runway or Poldark, just sit and watch for a little while. I tend to not advocate Netflix because the autostart the next show, and 1 episode turns into 10 in the blink of an eye.
Remember that your creativity is like a being all of its own. It needs to be nurtured and fed, and when you work it for weeks on end, it needs time to rest or recuperate. My suggestion is to do at least one of these things each day. Read before bed or during your lunch break, get out of the house on days off is possible. Take time to enjoy your work and feed your inner creative being with things that inspire you.