Friday, November 18, 2011

Replenishing Your Creative Juice

Let's welcome Jenny Hansen from More Cowbell for another Life List Friday! I'll be over at David Walkers blog talking about gratitude, and believe me, it is not a post to be missed! Take it away Jenny!


 As most of you know, November is National NovelWriting Month – NaNoWriMo to all of us frenzied writers. I prepped for it mostof October, anticipated it all year…and have been unable to participate in itfor most of November due to illness.

November has been a hiney-dragging month for me. I’vehad TEN days of work/family/writing time wiped out. Gone. POOF! Since theprognosis is pleurisy, I'm likely to have several more days go “poof.”

This is why so many of us have multiple layers toour goals. NaNoWriMo is my writinglover for November, but I do ROW80 and Life List Clubyear round. ROW80 is “the writing challenge that understands you have a life.”Life List Club is an effort to make sure that ALL the areas of your life aregetting attention. (If you click on the Life List Club tab under the title ofthis blog, Jennie has given a great description of it.)

Whatdo you do when you get behind on a project (like NaNoWriMo)?

Do you ever have those weeks where it feels likeyou're dragging your tired little backside from here to there, and nevergetting anywhere? Do you: Drink, cry, read, clean, sleep work, write, watch TV,or just “do the next thing?”

My solution, almost always, is to work. For somereason, having to deliver a product,class or document smooths my mind. It makes me feel productive and, somehow, incharge of my fate.

Life, death, kids, pets, illness all knock us offour rails sometimes and it's good to have an escape plan for the milddepression that usually lurks on the other side of these events. At the veryleast, an understanding of how you personally cope with stress will make a hugedifference in whether it's a setback or a show-stopper.

What do you do when your creative juice is running low?

courtesy google images
Many of my NaNoWriMo brethren are feeling a littlelow on the juice right about now. Whether it's an autumn illness or a knottyplot problem, here are some writing exercises and techniques I use for jump-startingmy creativity when it misbehaves or gets lazy.

1. Blogging

Yes, believe it or not,blogging gets me all fired up and actually helpsmy WIP, rather than taking away from it. Plus this year for NaNo, I bloggedahead THANK GOD. Being so ill used every one of my surplus posts so now I’mback to writing on demand. Try free writing some blogs – you’ll be amazed atwhat you can do.

2. Participate in goal-basedchallenges

Like I said above,participating in several has actually been a help to me because they all havedifferent goals. If I fall down in one, I can usually still achieve somethingsomewhere else. It’s been much better for my self-esteem to do it this way,rather than the old way where I wanted to drown my sorrows or stop writing “fora while” when I missed my goal milestones.

3. Interview the characters in yourmanuscript

I learned this trick from the incredible Leanne BanksInterviewyour characters and ask them provocative questions like:

§ What are you most proud of?
§ What was your most embarrassing moment?
§ What is your biggest fear?
§ What did your parents teach you about sex?
§ What did they teach you about love?
§ What is your biggest shame?
§ What is your secret wish?

4. Take a break

Julia Cameron swears by taking a walk to clear her mind for writing.Several writers knit. I have a friend who sets a timer and cleans for 20minutes. Whatever it is that you do to clear your mind, try that instead ofjust giving up for the day when your writing laughs at you and calls you nastynames.

Bestselling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips admits to being a slowwriter. After a lot of angst and experimentation, what worked for her infinishing her manuscripts was a state-of-the-art digital timer. She sets it fortwo hours each day that she writes. If she answers the phone or checks email,she stops the timer. She said some days it takes the entire day to do two hoursbut she keeps at it.

What works to amp you up when your creative juice is running low? Are youparticipating in any goal-based programs right now? How are they going for you?

I wish you happy writing this week! Don’t forget to click on over to David's place to see Jennie!

About Jenny Hansen

Jenny fills her nights with humor: writing memoir, women’sfiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing after the newly walking BabyGirl). By day, she provides training and social media marketing for anaccounting firm. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s diggingthis sit down and write thing.

When she’s not at her blog, More Cowbell,Jenny can be found on Twitter at jhansenwrites and at her group blog, Writers In TheStorm. Every Saturday, she writes the RiskyBaby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, newparents and high-risk pregnancy.
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