Friday, January 28, 2011

Refilling the well

Writers like to talk about producing wordcount, tracking goals, meeting objectives. Which is all well and good. It's hard to reach a goal you haven't set for yourself. You can, of course. But it helps give you focus if you state - sometimes publicly - that I'm going to do XYZ by a certain date. For some people, they refuse to miss those self-generated deadlines. I'm not one of those people. Actually, when I state a goal, I usually don't make it. I don't know if it's my stubborn nature or performance anxiety or what, but I seem to do better when I keep my goals to myself and just plod away.

Sometimes there are other reasons we don't make our goals, and it's not just procrastination. Life throws all of us curve balls from time to time and the worst thing you can do to a protesting muse is to demand she produce when your head's not in the game. If you've just had some sort of major life change, or even one that seems minor but affected you profoundly, now's probably not the best time to expect yourself to finish a book or tackle a new one in a genre than challenges you. You need to give yourself that space to want to return to writing again.

Every time I've believed my words have "dried up", they always come back. But they come back on their own timetable, not mine, and forcing them only means I'll be in for rewrites later on.

One thing that helps get you back in the frame of mind for writing is refilling the well. Lots of different things can do that - watching a movie, visiting a museum, even taking a walk - but the trick I most often use is to look at photographs. Sometimes I pick out pictures of my hero and heroine, but not always. My preferred method is to flip through stock photography sites until I find a picture that makes me think. It could be a couple arguing or holding each other or any number of other things. And then I let my thoughts go and see if that photo doesn't trigger something in my work in progress or maybe a whole new story altogether. Whatever gets your brain spinning creatively is a very good thing.

What do you do to refill the well?


Anonymous said...

Music always helps me. If I get stuck with a work in progress I go back and listen to the playlist I've made for it. Or even better I hunt for songs to add to that playlist, which forces me to think about the story and then yahtzee! I'm writing again.

Taryn Elliott said...

Yep. I gotta go with Sonya--Music is my #1. If I can't find the music that suits my scene, I'm pretty much dead in the water.

And when I'm not producing it's either that I lost the motivation of the scene and need to rethink things OR I'm just empty. Then it's time for movies and Tv to get my creativity juicing.

Great topic.

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