Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Creative Depression

Work stress and family stress, not to mention the dismal spring weather, had left me a completely uninspired by the time the SK Romance Writer’s annual writing retreat rolled around in June. The right side of my brain was not just sluggish, it was comatose! Not being able to write was the least of my problems – I wasn't the least bit inspired to cook and we were eating boxed food (definitely a serious situation in my house)!

I considered cancelling out of the retreat since I didn’t have a burning desire to work on any of my projects, but then I realized the trap I was creating for myself. Creativity is not just a gift, it is also a skill--use it or lose it. So, with no particular project in mind, I booked the weekend off and headed to the retreat anyway. I tried very hard to work on any one of my WIPs but had no success at all (I literally sat there…). By noon on Saturday I had come to the conclusion that I wasn’t being realistic – how could I spend the weekend writing at full tilt when, over the previous few months, I hadn’t spent more than a few hours writing?

Spurred on by the conversation I’d had with a fellow writer on the drive to the retreat, I decided to do a little research into how to rejuvenate my dwindled creativity. The weekend turned out to be a good one. Not because I reached my word count goal (I didn’t), but because by the time I left I was once again optimistic about writing!

If you suffering from more than just writer’s block, try one of the following to rekindle that creative spark:

Do something new
- This goes beyond just working on a new project—try something you have never done before. Take a belly-dance class. Try your hand at gardening. Join a water-polo team. Think different in a big way!

Expose yourself to creativity
- Hang out with other artists and writers. Go to an art exhibit. Take in a theatre production. Attend an art class. Talk the talk!

Document your thoughts and ideas
- Spend a few minutes each morning writing down your dreams (at least what you remember). Keep a daily journal. Take a notebook wherever you go to jot down ideas. Go for a walk with your camera and take pictures of anything you find interesting. Create a mind map. Don’t sensor what you document—be free!

Take a break
- Take 15 minutes to rest your mind and fingers. Take an hour and go to the gym. Set aside what you are currently working on and start on a new project. Taking a break is different than quitting—don’t give up!

Muzzle that inner critic
- Stop over-analyzing and over-editing your work. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Don’t be embarrassed by your ideas. You are not perfect—don’t expect your work to be. Think positive!

If you need a little more help boosting your creativity, here are a few more resources to check out. The one thing they all seem to agree on is the commitment, time and effort it takes to nurture and strengthen your creativity.

30 Tips to Rejuvenate Your Creativity: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/30-tips-to-rejuvenate-your-creativity.html

How to Boost Creativity: http://psychology.about.com/od/cognitivepsychology/tp/how-to-boost-creativity.htm

Creativity Exercises: http://desktoppub.about.com/od/creativityexercises/a/saedi.htm

How to Boost Your Creativity: http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Boost-Your-Creativity

This week I picked up a copy of the The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which is designed as a twelve-week exercise to ‘restart your creative engine.’ I’ll let you know how it goes. http://www.theartistsway.com/

Have you ever been in a creative funk before? How did you claw your way out?

10 comments:

Karyn Good said...

I think my favorite tip was: Don’t be too precious about your work. Being inspired by ‘the muse’ is important, but if the doctor and the garbage man can do their jobs every day, then those in a creative line of work can too. Change your attitude towards your work.

I need to remember that one!

Right now I'm letting other things distract me from writing, but I figure that's alright as they're creative distractions and in a sense are rejuvenating my depleted resources :D Looking forward to hearing how it goes with The Artist's Way!

Anne Germaine said...

Hi Karyn!

I am guilty of 'not being in the mood to write' from time to time. Writers have to be in the creative mood, right? LOL

We watch for stereotypes in our writing, but we forget to look at them in ourselves. The stereotype of the moody, tragic writer is just that--a stereotype!

connie said...

Anne,

You have given some great answers to the 'poor me' questions I was going to ask in tomorrow's blog. That's great and I am inspired just by the names of the links. But, NOW what will I write about????

connie

p.s. hey, an idea just occured to me based on your links. You are wonderful! c

Helena said...

I might have been inspired to actually write way back when, instead of always thinking about it when I thought I was too busy to write, IF I had been associating with people like the Chicks, and all the other writers who hang around here.

Such support, so many great ideas, and a real in-your-face attitude! How could a person ignore all the creative prodding ... that leads to the creative flame being ignited within ourselves. I suppose the pilot light is always there, just have to add some extra fuel to get going.

Thanks for the insights, Anne. I need all the nurturing I can get. (I haven't taken time to check out all your links, because I'm rushing around trying to get ready to leave for my annual 'fix' of authors at the Festival of Words, but I will get back to them SOON.)

Nicole Murray said...

Much on your list is things I have tried and have helped. But sometimes its just time we need to get what we lost back. And thank you for the list of links. ;-)

Anne Germaine said...

I'm sorry Connie! We should have swapped days!

Anne Germaine said...

Hello Helena, I'm glad I could be of some help.

Anne Germaine said...

Hi Nicole, thanks for stopping in.

Good point, and I agree as long as "taking time" doesn't mean quitting. It is a skill (or a talent?) to have the drive to keep going when you need to just push through and to be self aware enough to know when it's time to take a break.

Good luck with your writing!

connie said...

Anne

Not to be sorry. You kicked the old creative urges into action.

connie

Jana Richards said...

Hi Anne,
I have been at the point of almost quitting writing. And then I asked myself "If I'm not a writer, what am I?" The thought that I would no longer have my writing scared me so much that I pulled up my socks and persevered. Sometimes I think life would be a lot easier if I wasn't a writer, but it wouldn't be as rich either.

Thanks for the links. When I need a good dose of motivation again I'll be sure to check them out again.

Jana