Summer break is my writing sweet spot. Two months where I can focus on crafting a new novel or polishing an existing project.
At the start of summer 2016, I set several goals to conquer by August 1. One was to write the last half of my novel, Shutter, and another was to complete revisions on another manuscript, A Twisted Fate. I used the same strategy to prepare for my writing sessions, including music, coffee, and snacks. I jotted down major plot points for each scene and established a specific word count goal for the day.
But nothing happened.
With each passing writing session, each passing day without making progress, I became more frustrated. I started overthinking the creative process and tried forcing words and scenes to appear, only to find this strategy had the opposite effect.
By July it became obvious, I needed a different approach. So, I unplugged my thumb drive. I stepped away from the desk, the story, and my old strategies, and searched for a new path to bring back my writing mojo.
What else did I do?
Worked out: I poured my energy into fitness. Whether it was conquering a new challenge at the Crossfit gym (I still hate burpees and box jumps), or tackling my daily step count for the day, I moved forward mentally and physically.
Read: I dove into my huge to-be-read pile and enjoyed reading books from different authors and genres.
Gained Inspiration from others: I love Instagram. There are so many people out there who motivate me with their talents and creativity. Some of my favorite feeds are Rachel Hollis (who I was thrilled to meet this summer at the RWA conference), Shay Cochrane, Megan McQueen, Michelle Seivers, and Mindfully Gray.
Traveled: I took some amazing trips this summer, including one to San Diego for the RWA conference and another to Portland, Oregon, to spend time with lifelong friends.
Explored: I made time to explore the beauty around me and captured these moments in photos. In the process, my passion for photography grew and now I have a visual journal to remember each place.
What’s the status on getting my writing mojo back?
Well, August has turned to September and I’m still overthinking the storyline, still shuffling my way through writing the ending to Shutter. However, I gained something bigger from my time away from the desk.
I learned that one approach isn’t always the best. A detour off the usual path can provide a wealth of ideas, ones for describing a setting, crafting unique traits in my characters, and brainstorming intriguing plots.
Now when I sit down to write, I have a renewed perspective, a calmness that wasn’t present before. Perhaps the most valuable thing I learned during this time away – just WRITE!
Regardless if I wrote 500 words to describe a character’s backstory, a critique for another author, a book review, or a blog post, I was still growing as a writer.
What’s your best approach to stir up ideas when the creativity pool runs dry?
Featured photos courtesy of Stephanie Taylor.