5 ways to keep your creative well topped off

Empty Inside LolCatIt happens to every writer. Every so often, we hit a dry spell. One minute we’re bursting with clever copy and witty word banter. The next minute, we’re trying to remember the difference between “write” and “right.”

Kristen Lamb, author of #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer, recently posted on her blog:

“We must fill our creative well before we write,
or we have nothing to draw from.”
– Kristen Lamb,
The First & Most Crucial Step to OWNING NaNoWriMo

Although her post focuses on fiction writers gearing up for National Write Your Ass Off month (also known as November), she makes a good point about writers’ creativity in general: we need to keep refilling our creative wells or they’ll run dry.

#1 Hang out with other creative people.

Writing is a solitary pursuit. Being creative isn’t.

Engage others — and not just other writers — face to face. Connecting with other people online is convenient, even necessary. But a running dialogue over a cup of coffee has an energy that doesn’t translate through the Internet.

Meet in person. Bounce ideas off of each other. Soak it up.

#2 Try a new, non-writing hobby.

Feed that beautiful brain of yours some new experiences, even if you’re at it for only a few minutes a day. It helps you avoid getting stuck in your ways, gives your mind something else to chew and fills up your creative well with energy.

I’ve recently taken up origami and calligraphy. I suck at both, but my brain feels fuller and more satisfied.

#3 Follow people outside of the writing profession.

As of this post, most of the people I follow on Twitter are freelancers, bloggers and other professional writers. That means that most of my Twitter feed is writing-related.

Not much of anything else.

Yes, it’s important to connect with other professional writers. But following people outside of your niche is a quick way expose yourself to new ideas — which is how you keep your creative well full; new stuff.

I’m starting by following some of my favorite WWE superstars, like Sheamus. And the Oreo cookie company.

#4 Read. A lot.

Writers need words. We need to stockpile fresh phrases. Update our styles once in a while. Find new ways to say the same thing.

Prolific reading helps us keep our foundation strong because it gives us a constant supply of new styles that we can use as a springboard to get our own gears going.

#5 Keep your swipe file garden tended.

I admit it: I’m lousy at keeping a swipe file in the first place. But I do know that every time I’m stuck, I dig through Google images and Pinterest to mentally juice up again.

If you’re going to spend time online every (admit it, you do – you’re here), you may as well spend 10 minutes looking up examples of award-winning or quirky ad copy. Pinterest is a good place to keep stuff, including websites so you don’t have to bookmark so much. I’ll share when I create a dedicated Rubber Ducky Pinterest board (so you don’t have to sort through my collection of cute bunny pictures).

Now, I’m as guilty as the next writer of letting my creative well run dry.

So this post is for me as much as it is for to anyone else who may find it helpful. But I do know that these are tried-and-true ways to keep your creativity from running low because I’ve done them. Sporadically, but even then they’ve worked.

What about you? What do you do to feed your creativity? Share in the comments below.

5 thoughts on “5 ways to keep your creative well topped off”

  1. The most energetic pace of ideas comes from interacting with certain friends. I also get them while watching my few goats graze out in the field; they are such peaceful companions. Many inspirations have come while my hands are busy, like while ironing.
    I’ve been reading excerpts from Steven Pressfield’s “War of Art” lately. Have you read that? It seems a very useful book to any creative.

    1. Now I’m imagining myself watching goats graze; nice!

      I read a hardcover version of “War of Art” once and never picked it up again (got distracted by other books). However, I recently downloaded the audiobook version to my iPhone and have been listening to it repeatedly for the past couple of weeks. You’re right, it’s a very useful book to any creative. Actually, to any one, I think.

  2. This is great, Ducky. I probably already told you my “well” is a little dry. It’s tough trying to refill it, but I am trying to read more and spend more time with friends. I’m also picking back up my fitness routine of a few minutes of Dance Central every day.

    1. It’s tough. It’s a habit that I, too, am guilty of not maintaining. But you do bring up another good way to keep the well filled: exercise.

      Good for you for picking that back up.

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