Refilling the well. Getting your groove back. Breaking through the block. Call it what you will, but sometimes we all hit the wall. Ideas dry up, the plot goes plop instead of pop. And even your characters get bored and wish for a more merciful ending. Okay, maybe that last was a little too graphic, but you get the picture.
Many of the solutions are simple and well known, albeit we often forget to employ the simple and go for the thrasher, ending up in more pain than when we started. Top of the list of what to do when your brain turns to mush and the buttonthechair goes numb is go for a walk. Yoga competed with several other types of exercise, but in the end, finding your balance won out. A variety of teas seemed to be the perfect pic-me-up, or relaxer. But that whole wing of the conversation left out one lady’s favorite brand of coffee. And of course my suggestion for a cold beer was met with mixed responses at such an early time of the day. (Gee, I didn’t know beer went out of season. Who knew?)
The recurring motif in the discussion, however, stood out loud and clear. When you hit the wall, step away and recoup. Find a different artistic outlet, clean the house, or go to the mall. Stop thinking about that plot point or mind boggling line which dangles just beyond your reach, and do something else, even if that something is absolutely nothing.
Well, the absolutely nothing part is not an option for me. I live in the country and grow my own food. Therefore, my go-to is outside in some type of yard work.
That is where I’ve had most of my inspiration. My muse waits for me somewhere between the roses, the beans, and the chicken pen. Of course the breath from heaven carrying the blessed words has been known to show up on the highway, in the neighborhood park, or the grocery store where I worked as a cashier. Inspiration even struck after a phone call, arguing a very stern point of a certain bill (which I finally figured out was actually correct ad I didn’t know what the heck I was talking about) and then stewing over it for the next three hours while digging post holes for a new gate. Yeah, I was too angry to plant flowers just then, so I hammered a hole into the Central Texas glue-like clay.
Voilà! I have a new first line for a YA alternative future I’ve been working on.
Once the muse surprised through a piece of lumber I cut while building an outdoor aviary (big bird cage). The soon to be cast off piece of 2x4 called out to me in words I could almost hear, “Don’t throw me away. I can still be of use.”
Needless to say I was a bit shocked and looked around to see if anyone else was standing nearby. The wood continued. “Didn’t you know I was once a proud pine tree in a forest?” I studied the grain and knots in the wood as it told its story. But I listened. (And No! There was not anything funny burning nearby, and the beer was still at the store that day.) Later in the month, while on a road trip to Missouri with my daughter and granddaughters, I wrote the pine tree’s story. It’s almost finished with edits and soon will be on the way to an agent, if all goes well.
I don’t set out to petition the writing gods for the next best seller, but I keep an open mind. Did you ever see a puddle on the side of the road and think to yourself, ‘What a cool place for a lost fairy prince or princess to be hiding?’ In the form of a frog or mouse of course. Or see a leaf drift down from a tree in the fall and wonder what sort of little person would parachute from the safety of his home in the high branches to enter the dangerous world below? Those were stories your muse was tasking you to write. Those were the messages meant for particular little ears, belonging to the chosen ones whom you may never have to honor to meet. But your muse knows those eager young minds waiting to hear that story, and if you don’t write those words, the muse might take them somewhere else. All you have to do is listen. The words are already there.
That’s how most of my stories come to me. It doesn’t really matter if you as a writer refresh your creativity with activity or rest. It matters if your antennae is up and working properly. I have a close relationship with my muse because I learned decades ago to have the ears to hear.
Would you indulge us and share your own method of refilling your creative well?