Elizabeth: Refilling the Creative Well

DSC_0076 - CopyAlthough I’m a home-body at heart, I enjoy traveling and seeing new places.  I spent the past few weeks on vacation in Ireland.  It was a nice break from my regular work life as well as a chance for me to recharge my creativity.

My current story is set in 1815 London, not 2014 Ireland, but there was a lot in the rolling green Irish countryside that had me envisioning my characters’ country estates and the small villages they lived in.   The stories about the battles and actions that shaped the country, especially the most current conflicts, gave me ideas for things I could incorporate in my story, and the people I met triggered all kinds of ideas for future stories.

If I ever need to have a character go to a local pub, I’ve got that covered.    If I have a hero with a castle, I know what it would look like and what a fantastic view from the ramparts he would have.  If a scene calls for some melancholy ruins or a vast sweeping peat bog, I have pictures so I know just how to describe them.

As important as the things I saw and the new experiences I had, was spending time disconnected from the phone, the computer, and everyday life.   It was a chance for a bit of a mental reboot that has allowed me to look at my story with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

So, what have you done recently to recharge your own creativity?

16 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Refilling the Creative Well

  1. As odd as this sounds, I recently bought a white noise machine for my office. I like quiet when I write, but my office was so quiet, I found every little noise in the house to be a distraction. That simple change hasn’t necessarily made me more creative, but it has made me more productive.

  2. I recently had coffee with an acquaintance, and the conversation with her sparked me to rethink the nature of friendship. As a consequence, I made a few changes in my life. It’s not filling the well the way you’re describing, Elizabeth, but it helped me toward finding the life that supports what I want to do, and I felt renewed afterwards.

    • Kay – any change that helps you move closer to finding the life that supports what you want to do is a good one. Congrats on feeling renewed.

  3. I’m excited to hear your trip went well, and can’t wait to hear more (and maybe see some pictures?)!

    As for my creative well…ugh. Every time I feel like I’m getting into a better groove creatively, ‘real life’ rears its ugly head. We spent this past weekend in upstate NY visiting our daughter and her SO and had a great time. I came back feeling invigorated and ready to get back to the revision of the WIP. Then I had a disheartening meeting with a potential client, am jumping through (stupid and useless) hoops for another client, and have 2 business networking events this week (and I find even one networking event more draining than an entire writers’ conference, so…).

    No big trips or chances to unplug on my horizon, so I think I need to use some of the hypnosis and meditation techniques Michaeline blogged about this past month to get my butt back in the chair and my mind back on my story.

    • Nancy – I know just what you mean about “real life” rearing it’s ugly head. I’ve only been back in the office for 2 days and already the peace and focus I reached in the past weeks seems to have moved a few steps away. It can be a real challenge to keep the real life / creative live balance in check. Good luck on using the hypnosis and meditation techniques.

      • I’m in exactly the same place as you Nancy. My work exploded over the past few weeks and added to that I’ve got a pesky son (nearly 6) who has started waking up every two minutes at night with bad dreams. Result: I am shambling round like a zombie and in complete gridlock with my WIP. I have even been too tired to summon the energy to contribute here for the past week or so!

        Elizabeth – your holiday sounds amazing. I’d love to go to Ireland, so I’m completely jealous and can’t wait to hear more about it 🙂

        • Rachel, I’ve had the same problem with my 5 year-old (boy) and bad dreams. Each night, we give him a Captain America shield, a light-up sword, and a protective “Donkey” (his favorite stuffed animal) to guard over him and it does a wonderful job. We ask him, “Okay, where’s your sword? Where’s your Donkey? Your shield?” He literally has those things IN HIS ARMS when he sleeps (I really need to take a picture, it’s so cute!), but it works.

          As an aside, the bad dreams started when he began watching a new TV show. He loves the show, but is taking it a bit too seriously. Could that be the cause? Hope things settle down both at work and at home.

        • Yes Rachel, the trip was amazing. I’ll be talking more about it in the coming weeks. Sorry to hear about your own overload. Hope things improve soon. It’s been a long time since I had a six-year-old, but I do remember the nightmare phase. That’s when we put an aquarium in his room. The sound of the filter was soothing, and if he woke up in the night, it provided a bit of light and fish to watch to calm him down. Didn’t always work, but it was a help. Hope you find something that works for your own son.

  4. Your vacation sounds amazing, Elizabeth! I don’t have any major trips planned for the remainder of this year, but I’m making a conscious effort to accept invitations, meet new people and do different things, even when I don’t really feel like it. As the weather gets colder and the days get darker, it’s all too tempting to sit at home and just write, read, eat and sleep.

    • I know just what you mean about the temptations that go along with the change in the seasons. Here we’re having a bit of an Indian summer (in terms of weather), so it still feels a bit summery to me. Once it gets cold though, I’ll have to resist the urge to hibernate. Good for you for continuing to reach out to new people/ things.

    • Jilly – your comment gives me the ideal opportunity to remind you about the RNA Winter party on the 19th Nov! Or, if I can’t tempt you to that, then let’s meet for a coffee at some point. No, there is no escape 🙂

  5. I changed projects. Even though I’m just as busy as before, I find it easier to get my butt in the chair. Discovery really makes use of little bits of time — I can do a writing exercise in 20 minutes, or pull up a blog about late-19th century New York on my phone and read a little for 10 minutes. I feel guilty about my neglected old project . . . but I’m trying not to let that get in the way of the new stuff.

    (-: I also want to hear more about Ireland! Sounds fantastic and invigorating!

    • That’s great Michaeline. Sometimes a change of project is just the thing to spark some creativity. As a plus, if you pick up your old project at a later date, you’ll probably find that the time away has given you new perspective and some fresh ideas. I’ve got 2 projects that I’m working on now, so that if I run out of ideas on my historical WIP I have something else to focus on for a time until I figure out how to get unstuck.

  6. Sounds like the trip was great, Elizabeth! The cool thing about visiting the UK when you’re working on a historical set anywhere in the UK is that they keep their buildings for centuries instead of knocking them down every few years and starting over like we do. Were any of the places you visited around at the time your WIP is set?

    • You’re right Jeanne, they do keep things for centuries. Theoretically, if my characters journeyed to Ireland, they would have been able to see many of the same landmarks I did, though probably not at the same speed 🙂

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