Our heroine is not a paragon of productivity, dear Reader. No, I have my creative downtime like everyone else. Do I procrastinate at times? Uneasily, I have to say that I do. I have become creative in my creative downtime, though. Having done so, I no longer consider it procrastination. In fact, approached correctly it is “un-procrastination.” Why? Allow me to spin while you wait, please.
There are plenty of things we can find to take up our time that are beyond a doubt procrastinating. Anything that has nothing to do with writing, which actually helps you ignore it, would count. (The philosopher in me begs to point out that everything is experience and experience lends itself to the creative process in the long run. There, I let it say its peace.) The sudden “I’ll go do the laundry” or “I think I’ll paint the kids’ rooms” impulses come to mind.
I’m here to suggest that you look at the creative downtime (I like that better than the P-word) in a new way. Reading gives the creative mind a chance to refuel, for example, and can inspire. If you’re unsnarling a plot point while you’re baking those cookies that suddenly had to be made, is it really creative downtime?
There is a real danger zone available to us when we’re in the creative doldrums, though. The Internet. I know, gasp, horror, sudden insight, right? We can lose days on end to useless stuff (Farmville or Bedazzled, anyone?) while we ignore being creative. My suggestion is that you use your compulsion to be at the computer despite your desire to avoid writing in order to draw yourself back into the writing mind.
Here are some odds and ends I’ve picked up along the way. One or two may be to your tastes. Either way, please let them serve as diverse examples of the many sites worth your time during your breaks in creative flow.
Sci Fi Wire has a great article titled Cyberpunk, Steampunk and now Stitchpunk? Your Guide to the 11 Sci-Fi Punks. Written by A. M. Dellamonica, it’s a terrific look at the many sub-genres now being explored by the creative minds in this fascinating area of fiction. (Okay, fascinating to me. I’m a sci fi chickie.) It is ever developing, ever evolving, confusing people everywhere.
Here’s a great resource as well as a good read. Writing Realistic Injuries is a comprehensive look at an area you may well have found a stumbling block in your writing. I’ve referred to it a few times. Dealing with everything from reactions to injuries and the injuries themselves to hostile environments, this is a real bookmark waiting to happen. This was written by Leia Fee, with additions by Susannah Shepherd. Kudos to them.
Here’s one that may be more bolstering to your sagging creativity. In the blog Creating in Flow by Susan K. Perry, Ph.D. (it’s on Psychology Today’s site), I found an article titled 11 Types of Bad Writing Advice. It’s a good reminder: Don’t let the turkeys get you down. There are always people who are willing to tell others that This Is the Only Way It Is. If one of those people has actually halted your flow, it may well fall under the category of bad advice. My feeling is that good advice, even if it points out an error in your process, will inspire you in the long run.
Perhaps writing exercises will kickstart you? First, let me put in a plug for #storystarters on Twitter. Great lines to inspire your muse. Write some, take some or be greedy and do both. There are a slew of writing exercise and prompt sites on the net. About.com: Fiction Writing has an article by Ginny Wiehardt titled Hands: A Creative Writing Exercise in 5 Steps. There are links (of course) to a number of other exercises and prompts on the site as well. Take a deep breath and dig in.
You’ve probably figured out that the common denominator here is finding inspiration. Some of us need to sidle back into our creative zones, some need to be pushed headlong into it. Try a new catalyst for getting you back into your zone. Smashing Magazine has a superb article called Finding Inspiration in Uncommon Sources: 12 Places to Look. It’s so much more than a list of twelve ideas, though. This is absolutely bookmark territory. It gives not just those ideas, but links and ways to follow through and employ those ideas. Cameron Chapman wrote a terrific article, please do check it out.
So I encourage you to un-procrastinate with me. Don’t let yourself get stuck in a rut of creative doldrums. There’s no reason to resort to ironing socks just to avoid looking at your writing project. Speak with your creative friends, search the web using odd writing inspired keywords, just stay in the zone. You’ll find yourself back in the sweet spot before long.