Monday 8 April 2019

Refilling The Creative Well - The Creative Process


Last week I talked about fighting burnout (found here) and so it made sense that I continue with how to refill that creative well once you've reached that point that you feel you can't keep going. One big thing that I advocate for is self-care, making sure that you don't get to the point where burnout is imminent. It might not always be possible, and it might be something that takes a lot of learning and rearranging to find what works for you. Personally, I'm a very organised person and block out my time using Sticky Notes on my PC. At the beginning of every month, I colour-code and block out writing days, recording days and days when I'm going to take time off and do absolutely nothing but read, chat with friends and just have some me time.

It's only really been a recent thing that I've started to block off complete days where I do nothing writing related. That includes vlogs, and blog posts, books and other author duties. I might be on social media, but I'm not actively doing any work because I need that time to recoup my own creative well and to practice my own self-care. And it's something that's very important for all creatives to do.

Think about it, whether you're an artist, a writer, a dancer, or a musician or any other kind of creative, there are times when you're going to be stretched thin and when that happens, it makes creating new content harder and harder and eventually it leads to something like burnout. The only thing you can do when you reach that point is to step back completely and focus on healing. So you need to be sure to take time to refill when you can. It's not about being lazy, nor is it a sign of you doing something wrong, it's just good mental health.

I think it's especially hard for people who work another job alongside their creative pursuits. They work a normal job and then come home and have a limited time to spend creating. It means that they have other stresses in place that inhibit them already and when you throw in the ime constraints you can't help but see that it's pretty easy to forgo self-care as a way to try and squeeze more hours into the day. But it's something that will bite you in the arse at some point so it's better to take your time and accept that things will take as long as they take.

So what can you do when you're past that stage? What do I do to help refill my own creative well and how does that apply to other writers? Personally I have a few things I can do throughout my day and working life that will help me stay filled with creativity but also allow me the space to breathe and get my head on straight. Now these are things that work for me, I can't speak to anyone else. On top of that my situation is different to the majority of writers in that it is my full time job. I don't work outside my author life and I couldn't even if I wanted to. So with that said, here's my list of tips.

I know that it's pretty well known that I'm a huge advocate for authors and writers reading. I love losing myself in a good book and it's one of the last things I do before bed. Personally getting a Kindle opened up reading to me again, before that I'd never had the energy to sit and hold a book for a long period and the only time I could really read was waiting for hospital appointments or as an inpatient and even then it was in short bursts which made finishing a book harder and harder. Now though I go through loads and that's because of my Kindle and the advent of e-books.

This is a huge one for me, the majority of my friends are either other creatives or they're writers themselves. So we can chat about everything and nothing. It doesn't have to be work related, it can just be catching up and enjoying each others company. It's a great way for me to recharge and something I do on a daily basis to make sure that I have little breaks to refill my well.

I've got Auditory Processing Disorder so it's harder for me to listen to music while working. I can just about manage to listen to ambient sounds but they have to be the right ones, and at the right time. It's one of the reasons I'm not an author who has a playlist for their books. I just don't process sound the way the majority of people do. However, if I'm having some down time, then listening to my favourite album, or a playlist is a perfect way for me to spend that time. It rejuvenates me and helps me get back into the right mind frame for writing.


Now I know that there's a lot to be said for napping being a way to create bad sleeping habits, but for someone who has chronic illnesses, they are the way I am able to stay as productive as I do. Simply put, on a good day, a nap is a way to recharge and on a bad one, it's a way to make sure I get through the day completely unscathed. Your mileage may vary.

I don't mean it has to specifically be Netflix, but sitting down and watching a movie or TV show that you love is another great way to recharge and refill your well. It's a time for the majority of distractions to be forgotten and just another way to lose yourself in someone else's work. I personally love working my way through a series and can lose hours this way, but it's always worth it.

So there you have it, the five things I do to refill my creative well. As far as getting past the burnout I talked about last week goes, I'm getting there. Slowly but surely, I'm feeling back to my old self, and while my health is throwing me curve-balls, I'm managing. You just gotta take it one step at a time and you'll get there in the end.

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