Writing Through the Road Blocks

Happy Friday the 13th! And in October, too! Spoopy! This week we’re talking about creativity. Where do we find it? How do we cultivate it? How do we hang onto it?

This week we’re talking about creativity. Where do we find it? How do we cultivate it? How do we hang onto it?

This is my pain pal, Edward Snakken. We have fun.

I’m having a rough week, y’all. For the last year and a half or so I’ve been dealing with chronic joint pain which remains undiagnosed. In fact, I saw my rheumatologist yesterday, and not for the first time he said, “I’m stumped. I’ve got no idea what’s wrong with you.” Super fun thing to hear from your doc, let me tell you what.

I’m lucky with this in that the pain isn’t constant, and it isn’t always debilitating. But it can be, and the last week has been ROUGH. And pain is EXHAUSTING. Which, okay, whatever. I can hang with it. I’m doing the stuff I know to do to get the pain under control.

But I’m also on deadlines. Lots of them. I have copyedits to finish and a #SecretProject to revise and I’m gearing up to start cleaning up The Diminished‘s sequel to send to my editor. It’s a lot. 

How do I fuel the creative well when my body’s not keeping up?

  1. Manageable goals. Last weekend, rather than putting in my usual 8-9 hour writing days, I set reasonable goals and made myself relax when I met them. I didn’t let myself push to finish one more chapter or write another 1,000 words. I listened to my body and stopped working.
  2. Easing back on my word consumption. I have a bad habit of drowning myself in words. I listen to audiobooks in the car, at the grocery store, walking the dogs, making dinner, working on things at my day job, pretty much any time I’m not interacting with another human, writing, or reading, I’m listening to words. And that’s not always the best for me. So when I feel like I’m having a hard time getting those creative juices going, the first thing I do is quit my audiobook habit cold turkey and start listening to music.
  3. Research. The last week has been hard on my creativity. I haven’t much felt like writing, so instead, I’ve given myself permission to dive deep into research, watching TV shows and movies that evoke the feeling I want for my #SecretProject, reading articles to round out my understanding of the world I’ve created, and generally immersing myself in the FEELING of the world so that when I sit down to write this weekend, I have all the tools I need to write these last few new scenes.
  4. Worldbuilding. One of my favorite things to do when I’m feeling blocked is to flesh out the world I’m creating. Patricia C. Wrede has a MASSIVE collection of worldbuilding questions that I love to tackle at times like these. Inevitably, this work leads to new scenes and ideas that ultimately make my worlds more complex and interesting.

How do you fuel the creative well when you’re feeling run down?

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Kaitlyn Sage Patterson

Kaitlyn Sage Patterson grew up with her nose in a book outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After completing her M.F.A., she moved to South Korea, where she taught English and started writing her debut novel. THE DIMINISHED will be published by HarlequinTEEN in April 2018, followed by its sequel in 2019. When she's not staring off into space and trying to untangle some particularly troublesome plot point, she can be found in her kitchen, perfecting the most difficult recipe she can find; or at the barn, where she rides and trains dressage horses; or with her husband, spoiling their sweet rescue dogs.

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