What happens if you find yourself wallowing in the creative doldrums? Suddenly, you realize it's been a year or two since you wrote anything new. Perhaps you're in between contracts. Maybe you know you need to write something different because the kinds of books you've written in the past just aren't being published any more. Unfortunately, I know a lot of authors who have found themselves in this situation in the last few years.
How do you find the creative energy to write something new - or anything for that matter - when what you're writing just isn't selling and you feel as if you've faded into the wallpaper? Here are some ideas to help you overcome the inertia of doing nothing.
Climb Out of Your Comfort Zone
1. Whatever your "home" genre, climb out of that comfort zone and read something different. You write mystery and hate romance. Read romance and be surprised by these relationship books. You may find it enriches the way you characterize and create inter-relationships. You write romance and hate sci fi? Read sci fi, the genre of ideas and possibilities created by science. It may kickstart your brain.
Every genre offers something unique. Mystery is a puzzle. Romance is relationships. Horror is good winning over evil. Science fiction is ideas. Fantasy is the "what if" of our imaginations.
2. Eschew your favorite TV programs and record a variety of different things to watch. Again, you may be surprised at the ideas that pop into your head. Try SyFy's Eureka or Warehouse 13; USA's Burn Notice or In Plain Sight; TNT's Leverage; FX's Justified; or Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva. All of these are solidly written, expertly acted, and were different when they debuted. The networks are not creating knock-offs of these which is usually the best sign of success for a TV show.
3. Listen to a different genre of music. This is usually the hardest for someone because we are all set in our ways of what we like. Every now and then though I make it a point to listen to something I'd never choose like Techno, the occasional hip hop, a bit of country. It's surprising how music affects our thoughts. I'm not much for country or hip hop or rap, but I find the Justified Theme by Gangstagrass, "Long Hard Times to Come," an oddly compelling blend of rap and bluegrass. Weird, huh?
4. Talk to a different bunch of writers than your normal support group. Maybe you'll find someone writing something that sparks a leap of imagination in you. Talk to aspiring writers, published writers, authors at book signings, and people who don't write but who read and have an opinion about books. Listen to what they all have to say and let it filter through your conscious and subconscious.
5. Start a journal if you don't already do that. Don't think about making notes for a book or anything like that. Fill it with anything that flits into your brain. If you already journal, and it's not helping, then try a photo journal. Take your camera out for a walk. Snap pictures in your neighborhood, when you go shopping, whatever strikes your fancy. Later, look at the pictures and pay attention to any thoughts that pop up.
Creativity is a well, and an artist draws from the well and creates. The well must be refilled, but sometimes we forget that step until the well is almost dry. Take time to refill the well.