Saturday, September 26, 2009

Welcome Stephanie Bond

How to Refill Your Creative Well

I’m coming off a crazy-hard writing year where I wrote 3 manuscripts for my BODY MOVERS humorous mystery series so they could be released back to back. I also wrote 3 manuscripts for Harlequin Blaze, (romantic comedies), also for back to back release. And I wrote 2 manuscripts for novellas. The schedule tested me physically and mentally, and afterward, I confess, I was zapped. My brain was mush—I could barely remember the names of the characters I’d written, much less come up with something new. But I had more projects on the horizon (after a short break), so I knew I had to do something to recharge my batteries. Here are some tips to regain your creativity if you’re in a slump:

Adjust your Zzzzzzzs. Physically, you need to adjust your sleep patterns up or down to get 7-8 hours sleep. I got way too little sleep most of last year, so now I’m making an effort to go to bed an hour earlier. Conversely, though, too much sleep can leave you feeling lethargic, so if you’ve gotten into the habit of sleeping in, you might want to set your alarm to get up a little earlier and get a jump on the day.

Get moving. Exercise truly is a panacea for the mind and body. Try to break a sweat at least every other day and keep moving for 30 minutes. Cardio exercise delivers oxygen to the brain and makes you more alert. I jump rope for 5 minutes shortly after getting out of bed. For a quick pick-me-up during the day, I do jumping jacks.

Eat well. Don’t put garbage in your body. I’m not the most disciplined eater around, but I do avoid the drive-through and opt for salad occasionally. Be good to your body—feed it well if you expect it to deliver on command.

Be a kid. To jumpstart your creativity, turn to something you used to do to have fun, like color in a coloring book. Or put together a puzzle. Or get out the Play-Do and make funny shapes. Board games are also good to get your creative juices flowing, as are card games.

Get together with friends. Nothing refills your well like getting together with friends and having a good time. Let your friends buoy you with affection.

Try something new. Jar yourself out of a creative rut by trying something new. For me, that means taking a break from writing novels to write, say, a screenplay.

Set a deadline. Wow, if you’re burnt out, a deadline can sound ominous. But sometimes, you need a goal in order to get you moving again. Maybe it’s a self-imposed deadline, or maybe it’s simply making a to-do list for the next day before you go to bed.

Collaborate. Getting out of a rut is easier if you have a partner to pull/push you along. Working on a project with someone else will help motivate you to get moving, but allow you to share responsibility.

Working writers don’t have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to strike—sometimes we have to give our muse a nudge. Recognizing burnout and being proactive about refilling the creative well are crucial to maintaining your artistic edge!



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Stephanie Bond left a corporate computer programming job to write fiction full-time. To date, she’s sold over 50 romance and mystery novels. Stephanie currently writes the BODY MOVERS humorous mystery series. Books 1-6 are available new at Internet bookstores. For more information, go to www.stephaniebond.com.

12 comments:

Karyn Good said...

Hi, Stephanie, and welcome. Thanks for the awesome blog. It's so easy to get bogged down and feel like the fireball of creativity is dwindling into a smoldering lump of embers. My favorites tips are Be a kid and Try something new. I need to try and remember to do more of those two.

Now I'm off to check out your website and your Body Movers series!

Janet C. said...

Hey, Stephanie, welcome to The Prairies. I'm a huge fan and welcome the news that you're writing up a storm!

Your pointers are perfect reminders to take care of ourselves no matter what profession we tackle. If we're not well, physically or mentally, then our production dwindles and our love of life ebbs. I can attest to the deadlines and collaboration, having worked with another Chick (hi, Jana) to get the creative juices running again.

I'm going to try and schedule more exercise into my routine - writing means sitting which means inactivity which leads to extra weight on the exact place I sit. And it doesn't help that I snack when I'm staring at the computer screen. Yes. Must. Change. Habits.

Thanks again. Looking forward to reading more of your fabulous books.

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Stephanie, you make some excellent points, and I seriously need to keep them in mind. I used to get a bit of activity in every day, but I've been bad about it now, and I definitely need to work on the ol' sleeping patterns.

Silver James said...

Stephanie, welcome to the Prairies. I love the Body Movers series! So many of us get wrapped up in the "Must Write Now" routine that we forget to take care of the other needs we have. I have lots of excuses re: exercise and that's really the area I need to focus on. Thanks for the kick in the patoot to get me out of my chair!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Welcome, Stephanie. I've been back from the big ACFW conference in Denver since Wed and I'm still sluggish. The late night chats with the Seekers in the lounge didn't bother me, nor the 6 am wake-ups. But only getting 4-5 hrs sleep inbetween took it's toll. LOL

I'm definitely going to have to do the exercise thing and with hubby doing the final touches to our new 'rec center', hopefully I can start in a few days.

I really like the idea of playtime. I love making puzzles but haven't made one since I started writing again. And we'll even have a dedicated area for games/puzzles in the rec centre. I'm beginning to think I can do some plotting while keeping my fingers agile, eh. Heh.

This is an excellent list to put up beside my desk. Thanks, Stephanie.

Anita Mae Draper said...

BTW I should mention that Stephanie emailed and said she had a house full of guests this weekend but would try to get away for a few mins with us. Dontcha just love it when you can't turn around in your own house because of family. :)

Paula R said...

Hey Prairie Chicks, thank you so much for having Stephanie here today. I have been glomming her ever since she swung with us in the plotmonkey jungle, eons ago it seems. I love her voice, and I wish I could find all the books together in one store for once. There always one missing out of the sequence. I want to make sure that I have the first two, but I find four and five or 2 and 3 or 4 and 6. It really bums me out. Well, maybe I will have some luck this weekend.

Stephanie, thank you for the info on refilling the well. I know that I could use this advice in all aspects of my work life right now too.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Paula R said...

Forgot to add how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE your Blazes!!!!!

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Stephanie,
It's so great to have you with us. And what great advice. I really make a conscious effort to get to the gym and I do a Pilates class but I totally miss out on some of your other suggestions, especially the "Be a Kid". I'd love to do more of the "Getting together with friends". It's always so great and so motivating to get together with writing friends. But sometimes meeting with people who have other jobs and interests is a good idea too!

Jana

Missy Tippens said...

I don't see how you did it, Stephanie! You always amaze me.

Thanks for the great suggestions!

Deb H said...

hi stephanie
very late on this posting,(baby shower this weekend) but i just HAD to put in that i adore your Body Mover series and sincerely hope the editors allow you to finish the series as you envision it.
your pointers are wonderful and i hope to put them into practice, especially with a new child unit arriving soon in the house. i think what you listed can be used in more areas than just writing.

thanks for sharing with the Prairie Chicks!!!

Captain Hook said...

It sounds perfect when you write it out like that, but unfortunately reality is rarely perfect.

The first three items on your list are virtually impossible for me. Granted I fonally found a place to live, but have you ever tried to get a full night's sleep when sleeping on the street, going to school and holding down a full time job?

Not easy would be an understatement. Added to that is my thyroid disorder that makes staying asleep virtually impossible. I wake up 5-7 times a night.

And since my thyroid disorder makes me lose weight at an obscene rate (about 10 pounds a day), I have to eat the highest calorie foods I can find.

It's also messed with my heart enough that 5 years ago my doctor told me that raising my heart rate for anything would likely result in a heart attack.

Have any suggestions for those of us who can't follow the general crowd?