Every aspiring writer should know how to recharge their creativity and how to overcome a creative drought.
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Not recharging – not creative
It is often aspiring writers that don’t know about the nature of creativity and the importance of recharging it. They don’t know that their creativity, like everything else, slowly starts to deplete.
This can lead to a variety of problems for the writer:
- he will have less and less interesting, new ideas
- he will not have any new material to work with
- writing and being creative overall will be harder
The worst thing that can happen is that the writer hits a creative drought.
The big danger – Creative droughts
A creative drought means that you have ‘used up’ all your creativity. You are empty and you need to recharge if you hope to continue to write.
During a creative drought, nothing seems to come to you when you sit down to write.
Now of course such a drought not only happens to aspiring writers, but it can happen to every one of us. They can hit us out of nowhere and seemingly can be gone out of nowhere as well. One day you can’t write anything down and the next day you suddenly get new ideas again.
The big problem is that a creative drought can last for only a few days but also for many weeks. This can be very discouraging and drive especially aspiring writers to the verge of despair.
It is therefore important to not just wait passively for it to be over, but to actively try to recharge your creativity.
Hitting a Creative Drought
The first time I experienced a serious drought was when I tried my hand at NaNoWriMo almost a decade ago.
I had a great idea, a rough outlining and so I started to work on it. I’d sit down and try my best to write as much as possible every single day.
The ultimate result was though that I hit a creative drought. At one point in time I was simply out of ideas. Sure I had my main plotline outlined and new were things should be going, but I had no idea how to move things there. In the end I gave up on continuing to work on this story and also to write overall for quite some time.
What had happened? I realized some years later, that I hadn’t taken care of my creative mind, my unconscious. I realized that it was necessary to recharge your creativity at times.
Keeping your Creativity Charged
You need to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes I did and keep recharging your creativity. You do this by spending some time away from writing. Recreational activities are very important for a writer.
If all you do is work, you will hit a creative drought eventually. What you have to do is go out int he world, have some fun and meet up with other people. Otherwise you won’t have any material to work with. You need those fresh sensual inputs and those gazes at the beauty of the world to keep going.
Now this doesn’t mean you have to go for extended walks and go sightseeing every day. Just a short half an hour walk is enough. During that time simply relax, empty your mind and take everything you see in. It helps to provide you with new, unique images that keep your creativity going.
How to Recharge Yourself
Of course you don’t always have the time for walks and recreational activities and at others, a creative drought can hit you anyway. There are a few major ways that can help you to get out of it more quickly:
The Artist’s Date:
This is an exercise that was originally developed by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way. I recommend it for everyone who is interested in a more detailed look at the nature of creativity.
In the book Cameron often talks about the dual personality of the writer and in this specific exercise she proposes to take your artistic self out on a date every once in a while. What that means is that you should really listen to yourself and find out what it really is you want to do. It can be as simple was watching a sunset, but also going to an arts exhibition.
This exercise is a great way to consciously recharge your creativity. Be careful though to not force yourself to do it. It should never be a chore, but always something you do for fun and when you really want it.
It is a great way to refresh both yourself as a person as well as your creativity.
As writers we are used to reading a lot. Whenever we have time we read. It is a normal thing. The reason that drives us to write is the written word after all. The problem with this is though, that we don’t look at the world around us.
So when you experience a creative drought, you should put yourself on reading deprivation. For a fixed time, like a week you forbid yourself from reading anything. No books, no newspapers, no reading online. For better measure and to get the best out of it, you should make sure that you don’t spend this time watching YouTube or television though.
What this reading deprivation does is, it forces you to actually look at the world around you. It forces you to open your eyes and watch the things around you. It also forces you to spend the time you’d normally spend reading doing something else. These can be other creative activities, like painting, going for long walks or listening to music.
As mentioned before, recreation is one of the best ways to recharge your creativity.
There is a reason that many writers wrote only for a couple of hours per day and spend large amounts of their time going on walks or on social interaction with family, friends or other people.
If you want to recharge your creativity, you can simply try to go out and spend a couple of days simply on recreation. Spend extended time with friends and family or on other social activities. During this time stay completely free from any form of work and any sort of reading.
An interesting version of this exercise is also silent recreation. Simply indulge in recreational activities without the need to talk. This can be long walks for example, or simply relaxing and meditating.
Taking in the details:
For this exercise think back to your last vacation and try to remember how vividly you see foreign towns, different countries or simply new places. Think back to how you look at the streets, the cars, the buildings, the people and so on.
It is a big problem that we walk blindly through life. We mostly ignore all the things around us, because we are used to them.
For this exercise go out and take a walk for a little bit, but this time make it an effort to actually look and take in every detail around you. With a street you could for example do watch out for the following things:
- the sounds you hear
- the smells
- the weather
- the cars on the street
- the public transportation (if there is any)
- the people at bus, tram or train stations
- the pedestrians walking along the street
- the stores and buildings at the side of the street
- trees, bushes or other plants
- any animals like birds
- advertisement, billboards, street signs
This will help you to gather new material. It is a fact that we forget that there are new, unique details all around us. There are new things to see and notice every day, even on the streets you take every day. All of these little new details can help to recharge your creativity.
These are of course no definite or sure fire ways to get out of a creative drought. As I said, they can last for quite some time and they can be hard to overcome. This is specifically the reason that you should actively try to overcome them.
So if you should experience a creative drought, you should definitely give the above exercises a try.