Elizabeth: Time Off for Creativity

10359172_801013389909288_450977814948046604_nI spent the last week on vacation from my day job. No big trip, no schedule of activities, just nine days of being able to do whatever I wanted with no 6:30am alarm to kick start the day.  I had some basic things I wanted to accomplish – work on the book, , stare into space, continue restoring the hardwood floors in the old family house that we’re getting ready to sell – but mostly I just wanted to step back, take a breath, and see if I could coax my creativity out of hiding.

So, how did that work out?

Well, 6,387 words to start with on The Traitor plus another 5,786 on Second Chances, a new contemporary story that has been clamoring for attention, not to mention the knots in my plotting that I was able to iron out. It turns out Maya Angelou was right on the money when she said that the more you use creativity, the more you have.

Sometimes I wrote in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon or evening, and sometimes at multiple points during the day. I trimmed the climbing roses (ouch, thorns) and day dreamed, did some mending and day dreamed, watched Grey’s Anatomy (my latest Netflix character-study activity) and day dreamed . . . you get the idea. And I wrote.

I started out each day with my writing journal, an idea Kat blogged about here. With eleven entries under my belt, I can definitely say that it has been very helpful. I’ve been using it to capture ideas as they come to me, as well as to lay out what I’m planning to work on in the day’s writing. Something about putting my goal for the day down in writing has helped me really focus on what I’m doing and added some accountability. Definitely a keeper.

Without the day job to think about, I was able to give my story free reign. It was very, very addictive. Since I couldn’t really call in “sorry, never coming back” to the day job when Monday rolled around (I have a serious shoe and book addiction to support), I’m looking at ways to get that writer’s retreat feeling that Kat blogged about here built into my regular schedule.

I have plenty of vacation time saved up – I think a mini-writer’s retreat each month is an excellent way to spend it. After all, I’d hate for my creativity to go off into hiding again, now that we’ve become friends.  Now the decision is: one four-day weekend a month or two three-day weekends?

So, what do you do to nurture your own creativity?

10 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Time Off for Creativity

  1. What great progress! Congratulations! And so nice to hear that you were able to rekindle that creative spark! I’m going to a cabin in the north woods of Wisconsin next week, and I’m going to use your word count as something to aspire to.

    • Thanks Kay and good luck in Wisconsin. Regardless of the word count you wind up with, I’m betting the change of pace from your daily routine will be a good thing, creativity-wise.

  2. That’s awesome, Elizabeth. I took one day and had similar success (tho not the word count). It helped soothed my writer’s fatigue and I’m in love with my story again, thinking about it everywhere and having no issues getting to the keyboard and getting new words down.

    I think creativity is sort of like love. You have to nurture it but it ebbs and flows and can’t be forced.

    • Exactly Kat. Not only do you have to nurture it, but you can’t just turn it on and off at will and expect it to be on it’s “A” game. Taking the time for the “day-dreaming” parts really made all the difference.

      • I really believe that allowing time for day dreaming and sleep dreaming is important. I do much better when I push at a problem, then go away and let it simmer while I do something else, then have another try. My brain especially seems to like cooking and jigsaws.

        Edited to add – 12k words, great going, Elizabeth!

        • Thanks Jilly – I was pretty happy about the results. I totally agree on the day dreaming /sleep dreaming. I had real success thinking about the story just before going to sleep and then jotting down whatever thoughts I had first thing in the morning, and then letting things simmer a bit more. The second story I worked on was completely the result of dreaming. I woke up with the full scene in my head and just transcribed it down. The same dream re-played several nights in a row, so the Girls were obviously trying to make a point.

  3. That’s great!

    My day job takes up a lot of creative space in my brain, and sometimes it’s just hard to make room for the book. I’m looking forward to my own vacation/writing retreat in . . . nine days? I think I need to make more time on the weekends for writing, too — at least the day-dreaming part.

    • The day job can definitely take up a lot of creative space in the brain. That’s one of the things that I find so challenging when balancing a full-time job with writing.

      Good luck on your own vacation/writing retreat.

  4. I’ve decided to step away from Three Proposals for awhile (a few days, a few weeks…I have no idea how long this will last, but I’ve promised myself no longer than RWA — after that, it’s back on the horse for this puppy). I’m just over it. I’ve had ideas for another book that keep pecking at me (a novella with Guy, Nate’s friend, as the protag), so I’ve been jotting those down, reading, and generally giving my brain a bit of a break (can we say “Property Brothers?”). I can tell I need a vacation. I recall when I was working FT that there were days where I had to take what I called a “mental health day.” I just needed a day off either to do things that I’d been putting off, or sleep and read.

    I read a blog the other day about slogging through the middle, and to some extent, I think that’s accurate when we’re writing the first draft, but I’ve been working on 3P for two years now and I’ve reached a saturation point with that story. I need to refresh my brain. I think we reach a point where we just need to stop for awhile.

    I’m so glad to hear that your time off was productive, Elizabeth! Congrats on the word count — that’s fabulous.

    • I hear you Justine. I stepped away from The Traitor for a while after I finished the Act I workshop at McDaniel last year. I just needed to stop thinking about it for a while, process all I had learned, and give my brain a chance to do something else. When I finally did come back to the story, I had fresh ideas and a renewed interest, so it was a good thing for me to do. Hope your story-break works great for you too.

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