Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tips to Refresh Your Creative Spirit When the Well Runs Dry

by Edie Melson 
@EdieMelson

We all have times when life spirals out of control. Maybe it’s too many writing deadlines, a family crisis or holiday madness. Whatever it is, it can drain us dry. I’ve learned that these dry times come when I don’t the luxury of taking a couple of weeks of to rest and recover. I’ve had to figure out how to keep going and recover while I'm doing it.

Here’s what I do to feed my creative spirit.
First, I do a little inventory and look at what’s on my schedule. I take a look at what I have to do no matter what, and at the things I just feel like I should do. There’s a difference, trust me. Now’s the time to let go of everything that isn’t absolutely necessary.
Then I acknowledge that I’m dealing with mental fatigue. My mind is like a muscle that’s been overworked. It needs time to recuperate. To give it the time it needs, I watch the clock while I’m working and taking frequent breaks during the day. I’ll use those breaks to wander around the yard with my camera, take lunch with a friend, or just sit and enjoy a TV show.
Next I take a look at my disrupted routine. Many of you know I keep a pretty regular schedule. I have to, I’m too easily distracted as it is. A schedule helps me focus and stay productive. But when life spirals out of control, my schedule can degenerate into doing nothing more than sitting in front of the computer for twelve to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. No one can sustain that kind of workload for any length of time.
When that happens, I become very rigid with my schedule (including the break times). This helps me stay on track, even as I give myself time to recuperate. My writing time is be shorter and my breaks a little longer.
The fourth thing I address is the need to feed my creative spirit. I must rekindle that creativity that’s burned so low in my soul.
  • I spend more time reading—for pleasure. I may try a new author, or revisit an old favorite. I go where my whims lead me. NOTHING from my to-do reading list allowed!
  • I do some things that spark my creativity, like jewelry making or knitting. Something fun, but not something I do for money. Just opportunities that encourage my imagination to soar.
  • I go to the movies. This gives me the opportunity to immerse myself in worlds that other creative geniuses have imagined and most important, much-needed time with my husband and with friends.
  • Finally, I find a time for a short vacation. It may only be a one-day trip into the mountains or a local park, but my husband and I need the unplugged time with just each other as our focus. 

Now I’d love to hear from you. How do you refill and refresh your creative spirit? Share your suggestions in the comments section so we can all learn from each other.

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Step Out of Your Writing Comfort Zone

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson



Add life to your writing
by stepping out of your comfort zone!
As a whole, writers consistently struggle with self-confidence. Part of that comes, I believe, from working alone. Another contributing issue is the fact that writing is creating. We bring something tangible out of nothing and it carries our creative DNA. Both of these factors make it hard for us to have accurate perspective, so we err on the side of negativity. We tend to think less of our writing—and our abilities—than we ought. 

Hand in hand with this comes our unwillingness to leave our comfort zones. We’ve each built a safe place, populated it with safe people, and do only safe things there. But as comfortable as we are, this gated community can prove to be  stifling to our creativity.
We’ve got to find ways to break free from comfortable and embrace the new and terrifying.
Why & How to Step Out of Our Writing Comfort Zone
1. Trying new things—hard things—will stretch us and grow us as writers. Even if we choose not to continue with what we’ve tried, that experience will add to our abilities.
2. Leaving our comfort zone gives us a new perspective. When we only view something—writing—from one vantage point, we deny ourselves. For example, writing fiction, after years of writing nonfiction, can add depth and life to both endeavors.
3. We need to change locals to meet new people. Maybe you only write at home, or have a single critique partner. Move location, write in a coffee shop or library. Exchange your writing with someone new to get a different type of input.
4. Write in a different genre. If you write fiction, try your hand at article writing. If you write articles, give poetry a whirl. Wherever you are, try something different.
5. Visit a new group or conference. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and only attend the same group or go to the same conference every year. Instead, be brave. Strike out on your own and visit a new group.
6. Enter a contest or sign up for a critique. It’s important to keep our writing fresh and current. Competing and asking for feedback is a perfect way to do that.
7. Try a writing prompt. There are a lot of books out there with writing prompts, but you can also just to an internet search. Set a timer and let creativity take over.
8. Take part in a write-off. This is a timed writing event. You can challenge another writer, or meet together as a group. The goal is to see who can write the most words in a set time-frame. Pushing yourself with a word-count goal will help turn off your internal editor. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it the fact that you tried that brings the benefit.
9. Ditch the computer and write long-hand. I know, we’re in the twenty-first century, but there’s something ultimately creative by touching pen to paper. You might be surprised how enjoyable it is sometimes. And if you’re one of those who does write everything long-hand, you should give computer technology a try. Not because either is better, but because different leads to discovery.
These are my suggestions. Now it’s your turn to add to the list. What have you done to break out of the writing comfort zone? How has it worked?
Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.