Ah, the lazy days of summer. As the weather heats up, life slows down a bit. With relish, you whip out that half-finished manuscript and sit in front of your computer. Your iced tea is sweating onto your notes, but you don’t care because you finally have some time to write and that has you feeling pretty great. Your creative fire is burning, baby, burning!
That is, until you realize you’ve been cracking your knuckles and scratching your head for five, fifteen, thirty minutes, and you still haven’t started typing. In fact, the more you stare at that screen, the further from your grasp your story seems to float. With every minute that passes, you feel you have even less to say. Maybe that creative fire isn’t burning so much as it’s smoldering, covered in ash and waiting for you to stoke it back up again.
Creativity is a key component of any writing project, whether you’re writing a self-help book, a treatise on best business practices, or a Great American Novel. The root of the word is “create” after all. But what can you do to keep the creative fire in your gut—the sometimes magical energy you pull from to create your work—burning hot?
The following is a creativity “to do” list I’ve adapted from G.M. Corrigan’s workshop, “Keeping the Sacred Fire: Practical Ideas on ‘Flowmanship.’” He is the author of Chasing Chickens: A Love Story, which you can read in part on his website, www.continentaldivide.us. Thanks, G.M., for sharing this with me.
-Read extensively. It provides range, depth, and color to one’s writing.
-Continually improve your vocabulary and cultivate a love of words.
-Keep a small notebook or recording device handy for observations and other fleeting insights.
-Enjoy unusual people and note character quirks and idiosyncrasies you may want to reproduce in your stories.
-Exercise or engage in some kind of physical outlet. Happy creative souls reside in nurtured bodies (plus exercise is a great stress-beater!).
-Explore a belief in something beyond yourself to cultivate feelings of awe and gain a new perspective.
-Welcome new experiences and activities outside your comfort zone and continually push your boundaries. It’s stimulating.
-Be open to learning techniques from others and ask questions of your fellow writers.
-Seek to learn more about strangers you encounter every day, including at social events, on line at the grocery store, or on the street. You never know where a good idea will come from.
-Learn the left brain particulars of the writing craft.
-Last but not least, cherish solitude. The keeping of the sacred fire is lonesome sometimes, but inspiration often arrives during the silence, when you’re best able to hear it calling.
Founder of The Writer’s Ally, Ally E. Machate is a bestselling book collaborator, award-winning editor, and expert publishing consultant who loves using her insider knowledge and experience with the publishing industry to lead serious authors toward success. She and her team live to help make great books happen, whether that means showing a writer how to improve a manuscript, get an agent, or self-publish; or coaching an author on growing her platform to sell more books. Since 1999, she has supported hundreds of authors on their publishing journey and takes pride in serving as their books’ best ally.
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