It’s the third week of January. Do you know where your WIP is?
If you’re like me, you’re looking at the goals you made two weeks ago and cringing. What happened to the enthusiasm? What happened to the resolve?
Nothing is quite so defeating as feeling like a failure. Again.
But I'm here to tell you you're not a failure.
Just stop for a minute. Take a deep breath.
What many of us feel during the first couple weeks of January is burnout. We’ve just finished the busiest and most emotionally charged two months of the year (November and December) with all the busyness, projects, money spent, decorations being dragged out of storage (and shoved back in,) too much sugar, not enough sleep, runny noses, and long dark nights.
I think you have the picture.
And then the New Year comes and we’re so READY to get back to “normal” that we makes all kinds of plans, draw up schedules, and jump into an entirely different – but just as busy and emotionally charged – season as the previous two months have been.
What suffers? (Besides our immune system?)
Writing – the most cherished expression of our creativity – has become work. Hard work. The joy is gone. Slogging words onto the page is like running up a sand dune. We go to the well, but it’s dry. Maybe a few drops of water – enough to meet today’s word count goal – but it isn’t refreshing. “Who is even going to read this stuff?” asks our pesky inner voice.
The solution? Let’s refill that well.
After all, you still have the enthusiasm for your writing, right? And you know how to pull up your big girl panties and move on after a hiccup in your plans (BTW, thanks to Ruthy for that persistent image!) We just need to prime the pump.
Sometimes the best way to fill that well of creativity is to step away from the computer. Sometimes we just need to let our minds play.
Here is my strategy:
1) Reading is a big love of mine – I’m sure it’s a huge part of your life, too. For my reading goal this year, I’m revisiting my old friends: my collection of favorite childhood books. I read ten Happy Hollister books in a row before picking up my copy of Little Women. Coming up is the Swallowdale series by Arthur Ramsome, Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy books, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. And many, many more. Revisiting my best friends from childhood moistens the parched ground at the bottom of the well.
2) Outside. Breathing fresh air and getting some exercise as I walk Jack wakes up my brain. Every morning. Even when it’s below zero. There was a time when I would listen to a podcast or an audio book while I walked the dog, but I’ve learned to listen to the quiet and watch the world around me. Story ideas play through my mind as I let nature’s quiet take over. Drip by drip, the well fills.
3) I'm addicted to cross stitch. In fact, I love all needle arts. Last week I got out my smocking pleater (that has been in storage since hubby bought it for me for Christmas a few years ago) and re-learned how to smock by watching YouTube videos. The spark kindled by my daily hour I spend cross stitching was flamed into life when I set myself down to learn this skill I hadn’t practiced for thirty years. The well bubbles up to overflowing.
I know your next question: "When do I do all this stuff? My schedule is so busy that I barely have time to write, and you want me to do more?"
Just like we need to make time for writing, we can make time to refill our creative wells. Your means of filling that well will be different than mine, but I’m sure there’s something that you would love to spend a few minutes a day doing – or an hour once a week.
And just like we need to sacrifice something in our lives for writing, we need to sacrifice something to make time for filling our wells.
But the best part is that often that thing that refills our well is something social. Taking a painting class with a friend, or a cooking class with your sister, or a morning walk with your spouse. Connecting with others may be the most effective way to keep that well from running dry in the first place.
So, what do you think? What ways have you found to keep your creative well flowing?
By the way, decluttering is also one of the best ways to refill my well - and I'd like to declutter some books! One commenter will win one of my print books of their choice. Check out the list on my website (click here to find the book list) and let me know which book you'd like in the comments!