By Victoria Bylin
Wouldn’t it be nice if creativity were a faucet you could turn on and off?
Imagine a shiny chrome spigot with a fancy handle, the kind that moves in a circle and changes temperature and flow with a flick of your wrist. Add a fancy sprayer that can be adjusted from a heavy stream to a mist, all with the touch of a button.
I wish my mind worked like that. It doesn’t, but I’ve learned that I can do things that enhance the flow of ideas and words. I can also do things that clog the faucet so badly the creative flow turns to an annoying drip.
Here is my personal list of things to do to fix the faucet (running with the metaphor here):
1. I read books that match my writing voice. I like longer sentences with a lyrical tone, visual description, and highly emotional stories. If I’m stuck, a book like this will kick the words loose much faster than, say, a romantic suspense with snappy dialogue and short sentences. What I’m reading gets in my head. I learned this early in my career. I started reading a Scottish historical, and suddenly my cowboy hero wanted to say “mi’lady.”
2. Get up and move. Shake your legs. Swing your arms. Dance. Do some jumping jacks. I picked up this trick at a writing seminar. The speaker said movement coordinates the right and left sides of our brains. I used to joke about the spot at the bottom of the stairs in our old townhouse. I’d be stuck on a scene, give up and walk downstairs. Almost every time, I’d get to the bottom and think, “That’s it!”
3. Be judicious with the internet. We all know what it’s like . . . you check your email, then Facebook and a blog or two, and suddenly the morning is gone. For me, the time is the least of the problem. There’s something about being online that destroys my creativity. All the ideas I woke up with turn to dust in the face of the news, email from friends, whatever it is that grabbed my attention. If we don’t control the internet, it controls us. I look at it like dieting. There’s healthy food and junk food. A little dessert is okay, but I can’t make a meal of it or it’ll spoil my appetite.
That’s my list. It’s time to get to work, so I’m going to put on a CD and dance, read a little bit and turn off the modem. May your writing be blessed today!
Victoria Bylin writes about cowboys, outlaws and preachers. Her books have finaled in the ACFW Carol Awards, the Rita Awards and RT Magazine’s Reviewers’ Choice Awards. She and her husband have been married forever and have two grown sons. They live in Lexington, Kentucky.
That creative faucet may be in your bathroom — the shower! Several times when I’ve been stuck on a plot problem the resolution revealed itself while I was rinsing the shampoo out of my hair. I love it when that happens!
Hey, Johnnie! Water therapy can work wonders. Maybe not convenient, but whatever works!
Vicki, great hints and helps here. I never thought to get out of the desk chair and move my bones! I’ve definitely to jumpstart a lurking project I’ve been neglecting. Thanks for a good post!
I get great ideas in the pool or driving, and I have a recorder for the car. With the pool, I just have to keep the thought. lol But the best ideas and solutions come to me in the first 30 minutes I’m awake. Lately, I’ve even dreamed some of my solutions. Great post, Johnnie.
A big AMEN on point #3. Some of the social media sites have gotten so toxic that just knowing the stuff is there is distracting. I don’t even have to look it to be affected.
I quite often divide time between writing (which I do sitting) and painting (which I do standing). Write for half an hour or so then paint for half an hour or so. Unless I’m working on something specific in either area, this works to keep creativity moving. It’s amazing how many times the solution to a story problem pops into my head while I’m pushing oil paint around on a canvas.
I also walk around the house, which is built so there’s a more or less circular path through the rooms. Ten minutes of that gets the blood pumping again.
Carrie, What an interesting mix of talents. They no doubt feed each other. Maybe I’ll break out some crayons. Painting is beyond me, but I like markers!
Hi Tanya, my Filly sister 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! Moving the ol’ bones is a good thing!
Hi PT, dreaming about a scene is awesome! The few times I’ve experienced it, the scenes have been solid.
I too find a good read inspires creativity. Also, listening to music can conjure up scenes. While listening to a CD, I’ve had to stop working on one scene and move to another that fit the music better and really stirred me. The act of switching types of scenes allowed me to go back the the first one reenergized with fresh ideas. Thanks for the blog