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.
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.