Uncertainty, changing plans, and stressful/anxious situations are a part of life–but they don’t have to burn out your writing brain. Here are 7 Ways to Restore and Refresh Your Creative Juices so you come to the page ready to roll!
#Honesty moment: us writers can be neurotic noodle-heads at the best of times. That amazing mind that dreams up incredible stories and insightful information is also the mind that can tie itself into truly spectacular knots over, well, pretty much anything!
And those knots can stop up your writing flow quicker than anything else, even when you have a clean slate of writing time.
So let’s dive in!
Feel free to include these suggestions. As always, do what makes sense for your brain and flows toward your personal finish line without burnout.
1.) Reconnect (and maybe even refresh) with your unique purposes/goals for writing.
Check your life season. Sometimes anxiety and stress come from where you are not lining up with where you thought you would be at this time.
- Have your goals or priorities shifted?
- Do you have less time? More time? Less or more worries or difficulties?
- Do you need to muscle through another book to make a deadline or can you sit back and explore a side project to recharge?
Pray, reassess, and lean in to your unique situation. And resist the urge to judge yourself. A lot of stuff happens in life that we can’t control. Acknowledge that and go from where you are.
2.) Write out what’s driving you crazy.
Writing isn’t just for others. You are totally allowed to explore your own issues as well–and sometimes this is incredibly necessary to keep going.
Take some time during your reassessment and try journaling what you’re feeling and thinking at this moment. Even if you’re not a typical “journal-tastic” person, writing therapy is a legit, documented form of stress-relief.
And pour that crazy into your actual writing. Incorporate it into your high-stress scenes or use situations to inspire your scenes. Any which way you can, stop the stuff from spinning around in your head and clear it out of your body, even if you’re on a writing time crunch.
3.) Write what you need to feel.
Writing doesn’t just help you release issues–it can also help release feelings.
When Faithless: The Ironfire Legacy Book 2 released, I was a ball of stress. Not only did I write some crazy and difficult things in that book that made me nervous about reader backlash, but also, my publishing house was dealing with production and distribution issues. So I was concerned about negative reactions on two fronts, and doing a lot of damage control. One of the ways I made it through that book release was hopping over to a completely different book, If Wishes Were Curses: The Steel City Genie Book 1, and writing out all my stress into the characters.
Ever wonder where some of Allis’s insecurities and issues and whirling brain come from? Yeah, right here. For that series I even chose to NOT switch my author voice to match hers, because I needed a place to pour things out without extra effort.
(Note: I gave her my voice and a lot of my “brain whirling” from ADD and etc, along with my Russian heritage and love of french fries, but The Steel City Genie series is still fiction. 😉 Her life experiences are very different from mine.)
Need to feel happy? Give yourself permission to explore a happy book, short story, flash fiction, etc.
Need to get out some darkness? Give yourself a place to pour that out and seek to find answers.
4.) Aim for a minimum word count goal.
Sometimes to start writing, you just have to start writing. Even if it’s hard or it hurts or you’re not sure what to say. Writing is a practice as well as a passion.
Think of it like playing a musical instrument. Musicians have good days and bad days. They have pieces they’ve tried for years to master, and the only way they’ve come close is just to practice. And guess what? Even accomplished musicians have hard days and pieces they’re still working towards.
In the same way, I’ve had stories I’ve worked for years to bring to fruition. For every book I have published, there are loads more in the backstage in various stages of practicing. And each and every one of those drafts counts, even if they are never published.
So go ahead and aim for 500 words of practice in a session. Or maybe a 100. Or maybe 50. Write your favorite parts. Your least favorite parts. Whatever keeps you going.
Practice makes better than perfect–practice makes DONE. And the journey is half the fun.
5.) Talk out your writing with a friend/mentor/coach/etc.
Sometimes you just need to blab about your writing to someone. Writing brains can get seriously stuck, after all. And even if you’re introverted and prefer to keep your Master Plan hidden, outside insight can be great for getting breakthroughs.
Just like getting out of the house can do wonders for your physical and mental health, getting stuff out of your own head can clear the air and bring new possibilities to light.
Of course, along with talking comes listening. If you’re filling a friend’s ear with your story woes, make space to listen as well (coaches and mentors are a bit different, because they’re there FOR you).
6.) Explore other kinds of creativity.
All writing and nothing else can wear out your creative well super-fast.
Yes, I know the people who tout “if you care, you’ll sacrifice and pour ALL your best effort into your book.” Agree to completely disagree. It’s not a zero sum game here, people. In fact, investing in exploring other kinds of creativity can restore your writing mojo faster.
Cook a fun dish. Try woodworking or painting or cross-stitch. Change up your wardrobe to create a new style. Create solutions to household problems, or create a cleaner home environment (yes, I clean and create neater environments as a way to get a break from screen time). Create a fun event with others–online or in person. Create something new on a video game.
We are all creative individuals, and sometimes, you need to explore other avenues to recharge. Just make sure that you’re getting back to your writing (as always, according to your unique goals and priorities and peace).
7.) Get out and do things–or bring what’s out there inside.
Sometimes to get out, you need to literally get out. Yes, that means leaving your house. And if you can’t get out because of health reasons or restrictions or etc, then get the outside in.
Fresh air and new experiences can be a fantastic thing. When I had a mental health breakdown last fall, one of my requirements was to spend a certain amount of time outside every day. Did it solve ALL the issues? Nope! But it did help.
If you can, go on a walk today. Not feeling up to people or need to keep your distance? Then walk by yourself. Put on some earbuds with your favorite music. If you’re feeling up to it, go to a park or a library or a coffee shop or whatever sounds good.
And if you can’t leave your house for reasons (medical/health, unsafe area, enforced restrictions, lack of transportation, what-have-you) then do what you can to bring the outside in.
- Get plants and care for them–yes, even if you kill plants, give it a try (when in doubt, even plastic plants or vines can bring visual greenery, although they do collect dust).
- Invite friends over to hang out
- Open your windows, even for a few minutes to air things out
- Lack of fresh air outside? Get an air filter–or an inexpensive a bag or two of special charcoal can absorb the smells and dankness in the air.
- Video chat with a friend or relative
- Walk, stretch, or do some other kind of exercise