Recently our weather has consisted of snow, sun with 80-degree temperatures, and then back to bone-chilling winds, all in the same week. Writing can be like this. You’re in the moment and words are raining down faster than your fingers can type and the next minute it all stops and you’re left trudging through sludge.
Cities that expect snow purchase plows. Towns prone to flooding invest in water pumps, sandbags, and emergency plans. Plans can also be made for those eventual cycles of creative drought we all experience.
1. Preparation: There is a tab at the top of this site for a permanent page called Story Sparklers containing some tested ways to get started again when you find yourself stuck in the muck. It includes ideas that can be used impromptu as well as a tool you can prepare ahead of time.
2. Take an aerial view: An outward focus may help get your mind moving again. Create twenty other titles around your specific subject (or scene). Perhaps you are writing on Divorce and Children. Some offshoots might be Debt and Divorce, Faith Factors, or Strength through Struggles. If you’re writing a scene where a barn burns down, try imagining what the blaze looks like from a helicopter two towns over. Imagine an old couple sitting down to melba toast and jam reacting to the story in tomorrow’s local newspaper. This different viewpoint helps build a list of other ideas; some of which might even be useful. Then once your thoughts are flowing again, focus back inward.
3. Visit the observation deck: We all want to be persistent, but on occasion, taking a break is productive. Creativity is sometimes like the thought you can’t find even when it’s on the tip of your tongue. Later, while doing something else, out it comes. Your mind worked on the information subconsciously. Take a walk and look around. Relieve the pressure and let inspiration find its way to the surface.
4. Warm up the temperature with music: Studies show that young students who take music lessons improve in other studies. It has also improved memory in older adults. Music makes synaptic connections like nothing else does. Sometimes I play soft music while writing. Even those who prefer to write in solitude may find this method effective on occasion.
5. Remember your sundial: Leave the computer behind. Keep writing by taking up an old-fashioned note pad and pencil. Sit in the grass, or on a park bench – anywhere different than where you usually write. A regular writing place is often effective, but sometimes a change of writing medium or going to a new setting can coax the muse back home.
If you have your own readiness plan, I’d like to hear about your methods. Having a strategy helps you deliver like the postal service - in all kinds of weather.