Skip to content

An Empty Well

August 17, 2010

From time to time we’ve spoken of the need for an author to keep their creative well filled. But try as we might, it is inevitable that from time to time, the well will run dry.

Mine is dry. As dry as a bone laying in the dessert in the middle of a drought. I haven’t been able to write for quite some time. That goes for fiction, as well as posts on my own blog. Even the posts on this blog have been more difficult than I would prefer.

There are reasons for my drought. But whenever one of us goes through a period of Writer’s Block, there are always reasons. And they’re not excuses, but if I use them to allow myself to quit writing they’ll become excuses.

But I’m tired of running on an empty tank. It’s time to refill that creative well. I’m tired of staring at the blank page (screen, actually) with nothing to say. I’m tired of banging my head against my desk for 2 hours just to revise 200 words. I’m tired of letting my blog lie fallow.

So I’m going to toss this out to our readers: What do you do when you need to recharge your creative batteries?

  1. August 17, 2010 1:12 am

    I require music, and lots of it. I also have to leave the house and buck the rut because I get depressed just doing the same thing over and over again.

  2. August 17, 2010 5:21 am

    I sympathise, it’s a tough place to be. For me, there are two components in recovery. the first is acknowledgement of the empty well, and permission to stop attempting to draw from it – even on a minimal level of “worrying about not writing”. When the energy spent trying to haul up the empty bucket is diverted instead to replenishing, things start to happen.

    The second is immersion and enjoyment of stories created by other people in multiple mediums. Reading more, reading more widely than usual and watching lots of films and TV shows really helps me. Regarding films and TV, it’s all story telling – and whilst I tend to be very picky about TV shows, I do still try to occasionaly watch ones that I think are poor, to see examples of how not to do stuff.

    I hope that helps. x

  3. August 17, 2010 5:22 am

    Dale – there are so many things you *could* do – but when you are laying in the sludge looking waaaaaay up at the tiny blue bit that is the sky … they all seem impractical, useless or boring. Take it from me – been there…..

    I can only say what worked for me.

    Think about the things you *used* to love and the things that made you feel “whole”, or connected with the universe or “God” ( or whatever) – playing music loud, sketching, dancing, sitting in nature, looking at the beach..

    Start with simple things – to reconnect with quiet, with peace – a few moments at a time – 5 – 10 mins max.

    branch out with more active things – I love to go to the movies, to sit in the dark, to escape. I love to wander around the art gallery, I love wandering around a fabric shop – not to buy anything – but to touch all the material; pick up all the ‘things’..

    I get a sense of peace and thats when I start to fill up.

    Its carving out me time. setting it apart from the crazy..

    then you can start to redraw on it to create… but only a little.. keep filling it up….small bit by small bit.

    give yourself permission not to write – or have the guilt about *having to be or do a certain thing*

    well – it works for me…

  4. SheriO permalink
    August 17, 2010 6:05 am

    I am right there with you! I think one of my issues is that my day job has been so extremely busy, crazy, demanding and stressful that I can’t seem to escape into my writing world.

    So, I spend time with friends and really listen to what’s happening in their lives. I eavesdrop in waiting rooms, restaurants, standing in line at the grocery store or getting my eyebrows waxed. Then I jot down snippets of what I heard in in a notebook for later reference when the dry phase passes. And it will pass.

    Good luck!

  5. August 17, 2010 6:23 am

    Because writers spend so much time alone when we write, I think that when the well runs dry, it’s important to go out “there” and jump into real life. Having dinner with friends, walking in the neighborhood, sitting in cafes drinking coffee/tea and people watching/listening, etc.

    And as Emma said, watching movies, television, reading stories from other writers all help. Just enjoy your life – with all the good and the bad – and in doing so, you will find that you are capturing and recharging the creative energies.

  6. August 17, 2010 6:37 am

    I just start reading and reading. I read as much as I can – Fictions, blogs, articles and whatever I can put my hands on. I go out wandering for hours together …..or to the markets, not to purchase, but just to have a look at. Sitting reclusive also helps….. Actually, I just try to reconnect with myself.

  7. August 17, 2010 6:49 am

    I took a vacation recently where I went off the communications grid almost completely. I deliberately focused on reading and physical activity – hiking, walking, swimming, etc. I read three novels, a couple of non-fiction books, a ton of short stories, essays, etc. I definitely feel re-energized and creatively re-charged.

  8. August 17, 2010 11:48 am

    Maybe trying out small things (exercises) will help: e.g. the infamous six word stories – well dry, water needed, please help – or something similar. Or try just writing single words on a topic. One I particularly – but this might be just for linguists – is to treat my words as people: e.g. eat goes looking for a subject to go shopping with and together they pick out object to their heart’s delight. But don’t forget the adjective department to heighten description and if you want you could even throw a few adverbs in for good measure. I enjoy doing this so try it and see if it works.

  9. August 17, 2010 12:02 pm

    First, I seek out fun, creative things that aren’t related to writing. It might be collaging, finger painting, hiking in nature, going to a comedy club or a movie, building a bird feeder. Second, I love the flash fiction here at Write Anything. Giving myself permission to just play with the prompt, no judging, just writing whatever comes to mind is very freeing. Plus, it is giving me a nice little idea bank to work from in the future.

    Find a way to make writing joyful again. If it isn’t, give yourself permission to take a break until you can find the joy again.

  10. August 17, 2010 5:12 pm

    I haven’t been writing fiction very long, but there have been a few things that have inspired me. One discovery is that I often write better to music, which is not that strange given that my background is music! I’ve also found inspiration in quirky houses and things in my local area (like the house that was never lived in, which is about 10 mins drive from me). Nature is inspiring, and going on adventures that don’t turn out quite like you expect (still have a couple of ideas up my sleeve from that trip!) I think watching movies and reading books can also inspire (I found Inception thought-provoking, as I think a few others around here did!), perhaps a visit to an art gallery as well.

    Maybe the key is to do this stuff without looking at it as an ideas-gathering exercise, but rather a way to fill some other needs while you’re taking a break. Just be open to what you see and experience!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: