Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Stopping to Re-fuel

We talk a lot about the myth of writer's block, that if you want to be a writer, then you write. Sometimes, the words flow easily and sometimes you work at it, but not buying into any sort of rubbish about blocks and elusive muses goes a long way toward keeping a solid work ethic. It also gets the books done. 

But tapping into that well of creativity with such force and frequency, can still have side effects. Whether all our ideas branch from three inevitable conflicts, (man v somebody) or whether we reach into the collective unconscious to spawn our ideas, or pluck them unceremoniously from our navel, they still have a source, and that source can get  a little dry from time to time. 

Recently, the flow of creativity from my little wellspring, slowed dramatically. It went from a flood to a trickle to a big old dust bowl in no time flat. 

To be fair, I still had a lot of ideas. I just didn't really have the energy to write them. I poked and prodded at the words, but my output was pathetic at best. Oddly enough, all kinds of other creative endeavors sprang to mind. Weaving, painting, singing Opera (very badly) everything I wanted to do was  art, but it was nothing to do with the art that was on my to-do list. 

I was out of gas. It wasn't writer's block at all. I'd just forgotten to refuel. I'd spent more than I took in, and my engine stalled.

Then a friend brought me a copy of a book that I've been dying to read. I couldn't resist it. It was written by my all time favorite author, Christopher Moore, and it was about my favorite topic to boot. I realized, as I cracked the book and sank into one of my favorite wordsmith's worlds, that I missed reading. In all my rush to make stories, I'd forgotten to read them....again. 

You have to read. 

So I devoured, Sacre Bleu, and then I kept going. I read two more books, three more. I devoured all the things that had been waiting for me to have time to read them. I fell in love with other people's stories again, an so I remembered why I wanted to write in the first place. The wellspring, not surprisingly, filled up again. Almost by magic. 

I didn't have to fight writer's block, because it went away. I didn't have to force myself to write because I wanted to again. The tank was full. 

I know we're supposed to read to learn our genre, to study story theory and structure and the things that are happening in fiction around us, but if you ask me, a better reason, (certainly, a more fun reason) is just to remember how much you like it. It felt like a vacation, reading, and dang it, we all deserve vacations. 

That's something writers tend to forget too. I know, I usually see ANY free time as a great chance to work. Next time, just maybe, I'll remember reading a good book (or four) is a nice alternative. 

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