Writing a Novel: The Ebb and Flow of Creativity

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What I’m about to tell you is no secret. It is not groundbreaking. But I vehemently believe it’s important and so must be told, even if it is only a reminder.

Creativity is a wellspring that must be filled.

December and January were prolific months for my novel. I was connecting with the characters and their comical banter surged through my fingertips like a downpour. And I won’t lie; it was wonderful. I found a rhythm, and I was excited to see where it would lead.

Then, the worst kind of reality happened. Yep, that one.

Writer’s block.

(And in case you’re wondering, I didn’t miss the irony. What was my last blog post about? Oh, just combating writer’s block. HA.)

I had reached a transition in my novel. A scene that would change nearly all of my characters and catapult the plot forward. Beyond this, it’s a technical scene—one that I have zero clue how to construct. In my mind, this scene exists only in predetermined, automated movements, each action an awkward robot. (Think C-3PO running across Tatooine.) In other words, I’m missing the beauty. I can’t find the way or the words to make this scene the epic and eloquent foray it should be. (And yes, I know most of this will come in editing. Still doesn’t make it any less intimidating.)

Following the advice of my past self, I should have taken a breath and plunged into the arctic depths, writing the scene however choppy it would’ve been. But, I didn’t. I let if fester. And that, along with the ever-typical busyness of life, has dried the fount of creativity I had a few months ago.

Even writing this blog post was exhausting. Composing emails at work burdensome. I swear, even my texts are suffering. I feel artistically empty, nothing from which to draw inspiration and imagination. And short of a muse, I’m forced to find my own.

So, how do I restock my creativity? By reading, of course.

As obvious as this is, I find it truly works for me. I’ve taken three writing retreats in my life (highly recommended, by the way), and at the start of each, I was naively ready to tear through chapter upon chapter only to find I was spending more time staring at the wall than I was at the hollow Word document. And each time, without fail, I turned to a novel, spending a full day engulfing the story, thirsty as a desert wanderer.

And let me be clear here—reading for the sake of writing, of producing, will not cure what ails you. This strategy has helped me, I believe, only because I was reading for the sake of reading. It was self-care. It was the inexplicable joy of discovering a story page by page. And the laughter, the tears, the love I derived from and for these fictitious people and their make-believe worlds replenished my soul and my ability to create.

So, my wish for you is simple: Take care of yourselves. Go to yoga, stroll through an art museum, play a round of golf, or ride to the top of a Ferris wheel and feel the moonlight on your upturned face. Fall into a story. Fill that wellspring.

Then, ever so coolly, open your laptop and begin.

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