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Sunday
Apr102011

What Else Do You Do Besides Write?

 

If you don’t like writing, the question of what you do besides writing is an easy one.  You are probably offering to do the dishes, go grocery shopping, get the oil changed in the car, do yard work, or any other task that will keep you away from the writing chair.

But if you are a writer by trade, the question may become more difficult.  You are probably looking at me with big confused eyes saying “Duh Christy.  Writing is what I do. Writing is what I'm supposed to be doing.”

I’m a big believer that if you have a daily writing practice, your writing spigot will constantly be open and it feels easy to do.  (Easy = good right?)  But if the only thing you do is write, I have a inkling that you will soon find that your writing is feeling a bit…stiff. 

The creative juices aren’t putting out the rockstar quality content that you have grown to expect and love.  You aren’t feeling the same enthusiasm pumping through your veins as you approach your writing chair.

That's because writing inside a void means you run the risk of becoming one-dimensional.

Shields are up Captain!

It’s a fine balance between our internal and external worlds.  What waits for us on the boundary, lurking on the external side of the fence, are distractions.  In my case, I feel like no sooner do I found my writing groove, then I get one of those annoyingly effective, gate crashing distractions pounding on my mental door demanding to be let in.

We feel compelled to create a force field around our work in order to ensure that we aren’t distracted. We close ourselves off to everything, including things that normally inspire us, because we feel like we have no choice.  We become narrowly focused on “job one”.  The “priority”.  And to hell with everything else.

External reality feeds our inner creativity

As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I am a book-devouring vampire.  Recently, feeling a bit of a existential burnout approaching, I decided to dive in and finish a book series that I started over a month ago but never got around to finishing (because ya know- I'm busy!).

That one book turned into four books.  Over the course of three days.  Throw in an additional book that I pre-read for my kid and four books turned into five.  

The crazy thing is that instead of feeling like my brain had blown a gasket, I felt energized.  I realized that my muse was actually telling me that she needed something. She had been crying out for weeks that she needed fuel.  I just wasn't listening.  I had blocked her out and written those pleas off as another distraction.

Just like our bodies need food nutrients to survive, our creative energies need spiritual and inspirational nutrients to thrive.  If you starve your muse, it's going to let you know.  You will be powerless because the muse is so hungry for that thing that it's been craving that you don't stand a chance.

It’s worth the time to sit down and figure out what nourishes your writing so that you don't swat off those big red warning signs and plow ahead like nothing is going on. You need to bake in the required time to do your "other thing(s)" so your creativity doesn't fizzle and fall flat.

It's time for you to chime in.  What else do you do besides write?

(photo credit pasukaru76)

 

Reader Comments (2)

This is SO TRUE, Christy! Julia Cameron refers to "filling the well" in her book, The Artists Way. Our creative selves are like plants: we need to be watered and fertilized, or we get stunted, dried out, wilted...

Your reading binge sounds like exactly what you needed. (Oh, how I love getting booknapped by a good novel! I have to be very careful about when I get started, because often nothing else will get done until the last page is read!) Going on a walk, doing yoga, making art, making music -- these are all ways I feed myself, and fill my writing well. (It's amazing how many writing ideas I get while on a walk!)

You're right that what's critical is to figure out what works for you, and then make sure to schedule it into your life . Regularly.

Sometimes easier said than done, but if you want to write (or do anything creative), there's just no getting around the need to fill that well!

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa Dinwiddie

It was lovely to see this comment from you Melissa, because I know how much energy you put into your work- so I am sure you are always looking for ways to fill up that well! I like that you brought up the physical ways where we can draw that energy (like yoga, going for a walk, etc.). I don't pursue physical aspects as much as I should, and I feel like adding that to the mental nourishment would add a whole new dimension to my creativity.

Booknapped- I love it! That's one I need to remember. ;)

April 11, 2011 | Registered CommenterChristy Smith

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