Keep Your Creative Fire Burning

Absolute Blank

By Mollie Savage (Bonnets)

It’s a new year. I’ll bet you’ve made a resolution, silent or aloud, “this will be my writing year!” You’re filled with the exciting, energizing passion of your creativity. Writing is as necessary as breathing, right? Do you feel breathless or are you still pumping? If you are still breathing the fire of your creativity, write on! If the fire simply smolders and only sparks occasionally, read on. If the fire is out of control, read on. This is about finding and maintaining balance in your fiery creative passion: writing.

Each of us, as creative people, has experienced the high burning fervor of words, images and ideas that burst forth onto the page. And we’ve experienced the cold, stark empty hearth when our minds are as blank as the page before us. That is the nature of creativity. At times too hot, at times too cold, at the best of times temperate. There are no right or wrong ways of seeking the temperate balance of creativity.

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Melting the Brain Freeze

It’s a painfully cold time when you face a blank page and nothing comes to mind. Some people call it writer’s block; I call it brain freeze when nothing sparks my creativity. Here are a few ideas to melt the brain freeze.

When a work in progress suddenly stalls, don’t fight it; acknowledge that you are experiencing the nature of creativity. Write to it. Open a new page and write about where you want to go with the story. Relax, let ideas flow, travel where your imagination takes you. Perhaps one of the characters doesn’t conform to what you have in mind. Write a letter to her; explore why she isn’t working well within the story. Explore her motivations within the framework of the story. Examine why she isn’t working, tell her your every thought about her. Then with your hand, let her respond. In the process, not only will you be writing, but a lively character will emerge.

Sometimes the setting may not be right for your story: perhaps some element is missing or not true to the story. Depending on your story, take some time to draw a map or layout of a specific room. Bring in as much detail as you can. Use colored pencils to add detail, find out where your story lives. Then write a description of your drawing. Become as comfortable in your setting as you are in your own home.

If you have no work in progress consider these ideas. Write to the brain freeze, “Dear Frozen Brain, I am so mad at you…” Write about how you feel, what you are experiencing, let your emotions heat up. See where that takes your creative spirit. Or think of a time or place that interests you and create a free-association word list. Write down any thought or image that comes to mind.

Try any one of these to acknowledge and address the cold creative moment, and the heat of your writing will melt that frozen brain and allow your creativity to flow.

Too Hot to Handle

The flip side of brain freeze is when your creative juices are flowing like lava down a mountainside. Three story ideas, a personal essay about the holidays, an idea to interview the local artist you met at a party all vie for your attention. Focusing on any one project can be difficult with such a blaze of creative activity.

Step back. Acknowledge your creative dilemma, then spend some time analyzing. Write down what you think is important, what has meaning for you in each of the projects. Look for the true possibilities of marketable success in each idea. Try to give each equal time in your analysis. If one stands out as having the most potential, go for it. Should more than one emerge as having importance to you, look for possible connections between them (more than likely there will be). Pick the one that ignites your passion the most. Keep a notepad near you should ideas arise that relate to another similar project, and jot them down. Don’t deny your creative fire in the name of single-minded discipline. Allow yourself to be flexible, yet focused.

If, on the other hand, one of your ideas has a deadline–whether an article you’ve pitched that has been accepted or a contest you want to enter–and you find the pressure too hot, step back and confront the avoidance. Write about why you are not comfortable with this piece, address what isn’t working, and why you don’t want to work on it. Look for what ignited your creativity in the first place and what may have lowered the temperature of your creativity on this project to sub-zero. Look for the balance between the two; find the temperate comfort zone of your creative nature. It’s not easy, but who said being a writer was easy?

Light a Candle to Celebrate

Reward yourself, each time you write, for having found the temperate balance of your creative fire. Make your reward a tangible, visible reminder of your progress. Something that, each day as you enter your writing space, reflects your previous accomplishments. It could be as simple as drawing the framing circle of a wreath on your writing pad and adding a flower or leaf to the wreath after each day’s writing. Begin your writing time acknowledging and admiring your success.

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