I’m usually pretty upbeat, but there are times when it’s harder to dwell in possibility, like say when it’s been raining for, oh I don’t know, decades an extended period of time.

This morning, I read an article on CNN.com saying the brain needs vacations. Essentially, the thesis was that time in a different location offers an essential challenge to current perspective can boost creative thinking. Which led me to consider other ways that could boost creative thinking and keep the the unpublished writer’s creative well from running dry. Here’s the brainstorm list that followed:

Using Your Writer’s Group Membership
     Meetings: I belonged to RWA for years before I joined a regional chapter, but within a year of joining the regional chapter, I’d accomplished more than I had in all the cumulative years before. Why? Accountability, information and celebration.
     Email Lists: The next best thing to a group meeting is belonging to an email list or forum of like-minded individuals. The drawback, however, it’s that it’s too easy to lurk. Benefits accrue to those who participate. You may learn a thing or two as a lurker, but you aren’t fully challenging yourself or taking advantage of the support available unless you begin posting. (This, if you didn’t realize, was the confession of a former lurker)
     Conferences: There is nothing like a writer’s conference to refill the well. Yes, they are expensive. Yes, they take planning and sacrifice. But the payoff is extensive: networking & building relationships with other writers and industry professionals, learning new information through classes & spotlights, free goodies and an often inspirational keynote that leave you fired up and ready to take on the blank page.

Reasonable To-do Lists & Celebrating
     I’ve always been a list-maker. Recent classes, books and suggestions from fellow authors helped me refine my list making so that the habit works to increase a sense of accomplishment, which in turn increases my motivation for writing. Here are two tips I’ve found helpful:
     Make your To-Do list as specific as possible: Anything can fill in that hour of writing you’ve written down on the to-do list, but set aside that same hour with a list that says “go over first three paragraphs of Chapter Two” or “create the first draft of the next scene” and you have a better chance of making the time spent worthwhile.
     Using Margie Lawson’s suggestion of creating Winner and Superstar lists: Anything on today’s “winner” list is something you will do, no excuses accepted under ANY circumstances. On the “superstar” list are things that would be great to do, but aren’t necessary. The superstar list can then be moved to the winner list for the next day. I LOVE this idea. Gone are my endless unfinished lists and their whispers of inadequacy. I get through a list I know I can do, and then celebrate. If there is extra time, I move on and feel an even deeper sense of accomplishment. (I read this tip in last month’s Romance Writer’s Report, but I do hope to take Margie’s class on defeating self-defeating behavior someday)
And so I’ve come to the end of my brainstorm session. Do you have any suggestions on keeping the creative well flowing?


5 Responses to Support for the Unpublished Writer

  • As my father-in-law used to say, “A change is as good as a rest.”  When hit a wall/slump I walk, and when possible I walk a labrynth.  If walking is out then – and I’m serious here – I stand on my head.  It’s a yoga thing, but it really does help – guess that’s a blood to the brain thing.  Great blog by the way!

  • That’s I need a little inspiration:)

  • Oh, what a fabulous quote…a change is as good as a rest!  Thanks for sharing, I’ll be thinking about that one.

    & I agree about yoga.  While I’m no expert, I have managed a few headstands and they were so scary at first. I’m not proud, but my early headstand attempts were full of giggles and awkward flops. Achieving the pose was a matter of releasing expectation & self-consciousness.   I had never thought to relate that to writing. Thank you so much, Martha!

  • I agree, Lisa. It’s all about seeking the inspiration we need. Thank you so much for commenting!

  • I like pulling out my storyboard notebook (big empty box on the left side, lines to write on the right). If the words don’t come, I use the storyboard square to “move” my characters from scene to scene or place to place.

    It also helps me overcome my pantser instincts!

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