You write on and on. You stare at the blinking cursor but the words refuse to come. You’ve written day after day and you don’t think you have one more word left in you. You’re dry. You’re. Burnt. Out.
Many people are quick to call this writer’s block and maybe that is one way to describe it, but I prefer to call it something else. Your creative well.
Think of it this way, you have this well within you that is full to the brim with water. You write and write and write and maybe you even do some other creative endeavors such as crafts, music, or art. Every time you do any of these activities you are giving a little bit of water out to each one – you’re giving a piece of yourself into each project. And the more you do, the more that water is going to run out. . .until eventually it runs dry.
As you probably already know, that is not a pleasant experience.
Filling Your Creative Well
What fills or drains a person’s creative well varies from person to person and it can be tricky to discover what works for each individual. What may help me and fill my well, may drain yours and make you worse off than you were before. The same goes the other way around as well. This is why I cringe when I see someone trying to replicate someone else’s daily routine in hopes of having the same success as that person.
It is very likely that you will not have the same success.
So how can you discover what fills your creative well? Well, there’s no straight forward answer to this question. There’s no “one-shoe-fits-all” kind of response. However, if you’re not afraid of a little homework, I can give you three tips on how you can personally discover what works for you. These exercises are very easy and only require a determination to see the results. So, carry on, my friend, and let’s go!
- Be Observant
Set aside a week where you are going to take notice of anything and everything that gives you energy or motivates you to do something more draining. Don’t spend your week any differently than you normally would but instead be conscious of the different activities you do and how you feel afterwards. Do you feel mentally and physically drained? Or do you feel energized and productive? Be honest with yourself because this is a vital step in understanding your creative well.
- Take Note
Now that you have taken the time to think through the activities you’ve done throughout the day, you need to start a list. Pick a notebook or a piece of paper that you can specifically designate for this assignment and have all of your notes in the same place. At the end of each day remember what drained you and write that down on one side of the page. Then think back to what gave you energy/filled you and write that on the other side.
Do not rely on your memory or fool yourself into thinking you’re going to remember each thing by the end of the week. Write everything down – even throughout the day if needed instead of waiting till evening. The point here is to see on paper what is filling your creative well as well as what is draining it.
- Learn and Grow
By the end of the week you are sure to have a list full of what drains you and what fills you. This is a very important list with invaluable information, don’t take lightly what you have now learned about yourself. If you can learn these things and take to heart what you now know then this will be a massive step in your career as a writer. Now you can know the activities that will take water from that well within you and what activities you can do to help refill those dry patches.
By learning this you will learn how to side step burn out more times than not and that alone will help your writing journey. It will also help those days when you feel weary and worn out for no apparent reason, check your creative well and see if you need to spend a day refilling it. You should never keep giving of yourself when you don’t have anything to replenish that supply.
Draining Your Creative Well
Now, I can’t go without mentioning the other side as well. What drains the water from your well. Let’s face it, some days it feels as though we have a constant leak in that tank within us and the energy is simply being zapped from us. I’ve felt that on more than one occasion and I’m sure you have as well. But this whole article is about avoiding that as much as possible.
You see, it’s just as important to find out what drains you as it is to discover what fills you. I suggest as you go through the exercises above that you write down what drains you along with what fills you. Without that knowledge you have only half the pieces to the puzzle.
Again, you can’t rely on what you know drains other people, you have to discover what drains you. For instance, most people find writing very draining – even writers themselves – but it’s not so for everyone. I’ve heard of many writers who actually find writing energizing and they feel revived afterwards.
The same goes for so much more. Some people find sunshine refreshing and actually need it to be productive while other people prefer writing at night when it’s dark. Some people love music and could listen to it all day to feel fulfilled. But then there are the people who can’t concentrate with music on and would actually prefer the silence.
There are literally so many such cases that I could go on and on. Walks, exercise, spending time with family or friends – each activity will drain the creative wells of some people while filling others. So the question you have to find out for yourself is: what works for you?
Is This Really That Important?
That’s what you’re asking yourself right now. This all sounds great for some people but maybe you’re sitting there feeling a touch lazy and don’t want to take the time for this. Will it even be worth it?
While I can’t speak for you, I know for me personally that this has been one of the most beneficial things to learn as a writer. It has helped me be more productive in the long run and achieve more overall. It also makes for a happier life when you can understand why you’re feeling drained and why you’re feeling energized, instead of constantly being frustrated with yourself for feeling either way. You have more control over your life and what you can accomplish day by day not only as a writer, but as a person in general.
Think about it. All those times you’ve struggled with writer’s block and didn’t know how to get out of the rut. Or those days when you were exhausted but had so much to accomplish that day. What do you do? How do you find the energy to accomplish those tasks? You pull out your list. You pick something to fill your creative well back up and then you get back at it.
It’s as easy and as complicated as that.
What fills your creative well? What drains it? Do you know what activities do which?
6 thoughts on “How to Refill Your Creative Well”
Great post!! Aaahhhh, yes, this is SO important!!! Thanks, Allyson!
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Thanks, Joelle!! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!! 😄
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Such true words, Allyson! I love how you call it your creative well, and not writer’s block; writer’s block just sounds so…drastic. Thank you so much for this! I really needed to hear this!
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You’re welcome, Deigan!! Yes, I totally agree! Writer’s block just sounds so irrevocable when really, all it is, is your mental energy asking for more. 😂 I’m glad you found this helpful!!
This is just the *achem* nudge I needed today😂 I find reading fills me up creatively, but I have been sorely lacking the time and motivation to do so. And guess what? My writing hasn’t been the best this past week. . . or two. 👀 Great post dearie!!
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Make that a shove… Towards your writing!! 😂 That is so true. I find that in myself as well. When I don’t have time to read, well, let’s just say my whole life suffers because I need to read!!! And it fills my creative well. 😇😆