By Malena Lott
Confession: I've been in the midst of a word drought since Thanksgiving 2013. While I had a good run in 2013 publishing Family Charms (women's fiction), Twin Falls (YA) and even a romance novella Sterling & Sloane, only S&S was new fiction. I'd written the other books in prior years and edited and published them in 2013.
I wanted to kick off 2014 with a downpour of new words and a new story, but nada - no prose precipitation in the slightest.
I knew I needed a plan to make it rain words and get my creative mojo back, but nothing seemed to be helping.
Or was something working and I didn't know it?
It's important to remember as a creative that your stories are always in progress, even if you haven't put the words down on paper. We get our ideas by living, experiencing, interacting with others, watching, listening. What I found was that I had some things to work on before the wellspring of words would flow again.
Finally in the last few weeks, things started coming together. The forecast calls for a new novel. Here's what I did:
- Work on wellness. Having a lack of energy to write
could mean a lack of creative energy, which needs to be fueled by
things like adventure, new challenges, good health, positive
attitude, clarity and a number of other things. (Here's a great link
to a post on 18 things creatives do differently and I identify with all of
them.) If your life is feeling dull, get out and explore, connect
with nature, make a new friend, work out, eat better, meditate,
whatever it takes to fuel your creativity. Take a look at what's
going on with you physically and mentally and make the proper
- Find a muse. A muse is the source of inspiration for a
creative work. When I wrote The Stork Reality, my babies were
my inspiration. For Dating da Vinci, it was the original
Leonardo da Vinci (who is still my #1 crush). For Family Charms,
it was my sisters. For Sterling & Sloane, it was Rock
Hudson (specifically his character in Pillow Talk.) Now I've found a
real-life muse for my new project and everything has started coming
together. Of course the verb “muse” is also highly recommended:
deep thoughts and meditation.
- Try something new. One of the reasons I didn't want to
write is because I had no story. That sounds tres obvious, but I
have to become obsessed with a story to write about it. The
compulsion to write must overcome me. Finally, while absently watching the
Superbowl this year, a story idea hit me, but it was only a kernel,
hardly enough to run with. Yet it remained there waiting patiently for me to do something with it and recently a few other
events (and the muse) watered that kernel to where I'm in the
correct obsessive-compulsive place to work on it. It's something very different than what I've done before so the challenge is spurring me on.
- Be patient and make the hard choices. If you've read
the The War of Art, you know about Resistance. Often our worst enemy
to our craft is ourself. Instead of fighting the resistance, step outside of yourself as a third-party
witness and see what's going on. Don't judge it. Examine it. What do you fear? Why aren't you
going for it? Decide what has to change to make it rain.
- Go for small, more frequent writing stints. The
fantasy of being able to write for long stints is really tough for
most writers. If you can't write for big stretches, go small and add
in more in a day. I'm starting this new "rain shower"strategy but it will require
absolute silence and no interruptions to make it work. Maybe a few thunderstorms will show up along the way.
What on this list resonates with you? Share your ideas for pushing past your limits and improving your creative mojo in comments.