At some point in our writing career, we’re likely to experience times when our creative well runs dry. Sometimes our “failure of creativity” might occur as common writer’s block, and other times we might struggle on a more fundamental level, such as overwhelming burnout.
Whatever our circumstances, problems with creativity can manifest in multiple ways. We might want to push forward but lack the ideas for how to work through the obstacles. We might find it difficult to see what to work toward at all. We might be pulled in so many directions that we can’t wrangle our ideas into a coherent plan. And so on.
As we’re often not even sure where our creativity comes from, it can be difficult to regain that creative feeling when we struggle. For many of us, our ideas seem to just “come to us” out of the blue, so we might feel like a failure—or like we’re no longer a writer at all—if our creative ideas stall. But this situation happens to even the best writers, so let’s talk about what we can do if (when?) we encounter the problem.
I (and some of my guests) have written about the problems of writer’s block or creativity struggles before, including the posts:
- Nourishing Our Creativity to Help Our Writing
- Writer’s Block? Focus on Stronger Story Goals
- Writer’s Block? Use a Random Generator
- 12 Tips for Recovering from Writing Burnout
- What Is Writers Block (Really) and How Can We Beat It? — Guest: Lisa Bell
However, as mentioned above, every writer’s struggle with a creativity problem is going to be a little different, depending on our situation and how the lack of creativity manifests for us. So I’m excited to share another perspective, as the more insights we have, the more likely we are to find something that resonates with us and our specific struggles.
Christina Delay has guest posted here many times before, and today she’s going to talk about our creativity. She’s sharing some problems that can block our creativity as well as a few suggestions for how to unblock our creativity (and potentially help burnout issues too).
Please welcome Christina Delay! *smile*
Maintain Your Ley Lines
By Christina Delay
How are your creative ley lines? Have you checked in on them lately?
If the words are difficult to find or characters are being super-stubborn, the answer may lay in the state of your ley lines.
Ley lines are believed to be straight lines in the earth that are imbued with deep power and electromagnetic energy, which all connect important and sacred sites throughout the world. For example, you can draw ley lines between Stonehenge, the Great Pyramids of Giza, and Machu Picchu.
For a creative, our internal ley lines are the most direct route to our creativity, and we need to make sure that they are kept clear, maintained, and easily accessible.
Guilt is a huge roadblock to creativity, and it is oh-so-generous in its roadblocking gift. Often, choosing to sit down and write means sacrificing something else—household duties, family responsibilities, day job priorities, SLEEP. Guilt overload abounds.
So how do we unblock those ley lines and get back to creating?
First, we must realize that creative work is the lifeblood of humanity.
“There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” - Edward De Bono
Within creativity lies the foundations of progress and truth. Your creative work is important, vastly so. Perhaps even more important than whatever task you need to sacrifice.
Have a tendency to wander? Deadlines can help you stay centered and connected to your creative ley lines.
“Deadlines and things make you creative.” - Jack White
Why? Because a deadline forces your brain to focus on what must be done. However the quality of the deadline can determine the effectiveness.
Imposed deadlines, like those set by a publisher, agent, conference, or contest, are great motivators to dig deep and not get distracted. When we’re working on an imposed deadline, often we’ve anchored ourselves into the center of our creative ley lines and become focused and intent on finishing our creative work.How can we stay connected to our creativity? @christinadelay shares her tips Click To Tweet
Imagined deadlines, those we set for ourselves, have a tendency to downward spiral into guilt (see above) when they are not met or not started on time. These deadlines can be effective, as long as we have the same sort of mindset as we do when meeting imposed deadlines. For imagined deadlines, it’s best to set small, attainable goals so that you create a cycle of success.
Deadlines promised to others are also very effective, as we talk about in the next section. Because we often count others as more important than self, when we bring in a commitment to someone else, we tend to be more effective and to force ourselves into our ley lines. We are much less apt to be distracted in our pursuit of the end.
Struggling with maintaining your creative drive? Get an accountability partner.
“Accountability is a statement of personal promise, both to yourself and to the people around you, to deliver specifically defined results.” – Brian Dive
Working with an accountability partner or partners is a great way to dig into your ley lines. When you make a promise to yourself and announce that promise to others, suddenly you have more at stake. Accountability partners help keep you on track, check in with you to see how you are progressing, and are there to help brainstorm problems as they arise.
One of the best ways to infuse your ley lines with new power and strength is to experience something new.
Travel is scientifically proven to activate certain parts of the brain that contain your creativity centers. Experiencing new cultures, food, languages—new experiences in general—create new synapses in your brain, leading to…you guessed it—higher creativity.How can we refresh our creative well with new experiences? @christinadelay shares her thoughts Click To Tweet
New experiences do not require a huge budget. Just some guilt-free time.
Is there something in your town or city that you’ve eyeballed for years, but never made time for? A festival, farmer’s market, outdoor movie or concert, or even a 5K benefiting a local charity. Likewise, a weekend spent at a BnB in a new town, a visit to your local antique or pawn shop, or taking a painting or pottery class can be a great way to imbue your ley lines with new creative magic.
For those of you who do travel, Cruising Writers is back with another writing cruise in April 2023. Speaker Becca Syme will be helping our retreaters tap into their creative ley lines primarily using Gallup Strengthsfinder®. Authors who leave her sessions come away more effective and creatively efficient. Additionally, Speaker Kirsten Oliphant will be teaching about effective and painless ways to reach new readers.
Plus, Grand Cayman is a great place to infuse your ley lines with new creative power.
Christina is the hostess of Cruising Writers and an award-winning psychological suspense author. Her debut book, Truth Truth Lie, releases this October. She also writes award-winning supernatural suspense under the name Kris Faryn.
The writing retreats of Cruising Writers are a little different. We combine all the things you love about an intimate retreat… with all the things you love about conferences… with all the things you love about workshops… on a cruise. Writing takes priority during your time with us.
Learn from the best instructors in the writing world. Gain valuable insights from bestselling authors. Work with our guest speakers in a one-on-one setting.
Thank you, Christina! I know all of your points have applied to me and my creative struggles over the years, so I appreciate you sharing your insights to try to help us all. And one of these days, I hope to join you on a cruise too. *grin*
As we read Christina’s post, we need to remember that our situations, struggles, and how our brains work are all different. That means for some, deadlines might increase our anxiety (depending on the type of deadline), unless we focus on smaller deadlines like Christina suggests. Or some may have a hard time balancing accountability partners and letting go of guilt. But as I mentioned, I’ve experienced every one of Christina’s points, and sometimes, I’ve found improvement through each one of them (and sometimes I haven’t).
The idea here is to keep an open mind and know that just because advice doesn’t help us one time, in one situation, doesn’t mean we won’t find it helpful in a different situation. Instead, we want to build up our “creativity tips toolbox” with various ideas like these so that when we get stuck, we have a collection of approaches, techniques, advice to try. *smile*
Have you struggled with creativity before? How did your struggle manifest? What did you try that worked or didn’t work for you? Have you tried any approaches similar to what Christina shared? Do you have any questions for Christina? Do you have any creativity tips to add?