At some point, every writer will feel their writing stall. I’m normally a “write every day” writer, because that routine helps me stay in the world of whatever I’m writing at the time. When I feel my creative well running dry, I simply switch projects. I’ll take a few days off and write short fiction or poems instead — things I have no intention of sharing or trying to publish, that let me keep my routine of writing every day while still taking a break from the project that left me feeling drained.
This time around, I knew I would have a busy few days visiting family, so I decided to take a true break. I’ve written two or three sentences that were more journal entries than anything else, and that’s it. I look forward to going home refreshed and ready to tackle both my work in progress and the start of Summer Reading.
How do you refill your creative well?
Sometimes, I’ll get a great idea for a story that will have me making excited, almost-feverish notes, whether it’s Saturday afternoon or four a.m. Sunday night. The idea will consume me for a few hours. But after that initial burst, the idea often loses momentum.
For me, the key is to let the idea marinate. I don’t make detailed outlines, but I’ll jot down key plot points and character traits. After I’ve done a bit of brainstorming, I need to step back and let the idea marinate in my subconscious, soaking up spices — a subplot here, a plot twist there — until the story is ready to cook. Some writers get ideas fully-formed, like someone’s handed them a box from one of those meal delivery services. I have to measure the spices myself, decide which ones to keep and which belong in another dish, and give the whole thing time to simmer.
If your ideas need to marinate, like mine, you may find it helpful to do writing prompts or exercises while you wait. Try experimenting with a new format or genre. Take a long walk and let your mind wander, or take a day trip for a change of scenery. One day you’ll go back to that idea and realize you’re ready to cook up a new story.
Do you have to let your ideas marinate? What helps you prepare to write something new?