Do you ever have those weeks where it feels like you’re dragging your little hiney from here to there, and never getting anywhere? Literally or figuratively, this happens to everyone.
November has been a hiney-dragging month for me. Until I went to the doctor yesterday, I hadn’t stepped outside my house since November 5th. That’s NINE days of work/family/writing time. Wiped out. Gone. POOF!
I’m likely to have several more days go POOF since the prognosis is either pleurisy or some other kind of (stupid) lung infection. It feels like I got kicked in the chest with a pointy shoe. *pitiful sigh*
Life, death, kids, pets, illness all knock us off our rails sometimes and it’s good to have an escape plan for the mild depression that usually lurks on the other side of these events. At the very least, an understanding of how you personally cope with stress will make a huge difference in whether it’s a setback or a show-stopper.
What do you do when life kicks you in the chest?
I’ve seen people cope by:
- Drinking heavily (sadly, that’s not an option for me right now)
- Sleeping till they get to the other side (check)
- Cleaning until the world looks better
- Doing the next thing, then the next and so on
- Reading until their eyes cross
My solution, almost always, is to work. For some reason, having to deliver a product, class or document smooths my mind. It makes me feel productive and, somehow, in charge of my fate.
Imagine how soothing it was to manage my blog this last week. It wasn’t like I could really write that much, but I could approve comments and answer back from the cushy confines of my bed. That connection made me feel so much better! Even when I couldn’t talk, I could tap a few keys and then go back to sleep.
I might not be up to my normal level of juice but, thanks to all of you, my creativity is rarin’ to go. This kick in the chest has slowed me down, but it hasn’t knocked me completely on my can. Ha! *gives pleurisy a rude hand gesture*
What do you do when your creative juice is running low?
Many of my NaNoWriMo brethren are feeling a little low on the juice right about now. Whether it’s an autumn illness or a knotty plot problem, here’s some techniques I’ve learned for kicking creativity in the keister when it misbehaves or gets lazy.
From the incredible Leanne Banks:
Write an autobiography of your characters and ask them provocative questions like:
- What are you most proud of?
- What was your most embarrassing moment?
- What is your biggest fear?
- What did your parents teach you about sex?
- What did they teach you about love?
- What is your biggest shame?
- What is your secret wish?
From Leanne and other writing geniuses:
Change creative mediums
- Make a collage for your book. Jennifer Crusie does this. Different textures and different mediums can stimulate your brain to be creative.
- Debbie Macomber and Christie Ridgway knit (so do I!)
- Linda Lael Miller paints.
- Julia Cameron composes music.
- Choose a soundtrack for your book.
- Brainstorm with a writer friend, a non-writer friend, a newbie and someone who writes in a different genre.
More Leanne Magic:
- Role-storming – How would you handle these problems if you were someone else?
- Iconic figures – How would you approach the problem if you were an iconic figure from the past?
- Brainwriting – Gather several people in a room and give one person a piece of paper. Each person writes for 10 minutes, then passes the paper. Keep going until everyone has written on that page. Read the entire story out loud.
- The old reliable List of 20 – You must write down twenty possibilities, as fast as you can think of them, no editing allowed. The only engraved rule is that you must write all twenty! It’s the “old reliable” because it works.
If you’ve still got some juice left, here’s some great brainstorming articles for you. (Yes, there are some similarities but Holy Cowbell, look at the differences!)
- 10 Brainstorming Techniques That Help Stimulate Your Individual Creativity
- 12 Surefire Brainstorming Techniques
- Writing Exercises: Poetry – even if you don’t write poetry, these will push you to create something
Quick ROW80 Update:
The energy levels aren’t quite up to getting any writing done yet, but I’ve started visiting as many Team ROW80 members as I can manage today and I’m dying to know how everything is going for the rest of you! To encourage your ROW80 teammates, click here.
What helps you juice up your creativity? What techniques get up your gumption to finish a page that’s going badly? Is anyone else suffering from the bionic cooties roaming around? Enquiring minds always want to know here at More Cowbell!