Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Rekindling Your Imagination: Fighting Burnout

What To Do When Your Mind Won't Cooperate

Writers across the globe have one thing in common: burnout. The mind of a writer is a creative, often messy, place where worlds are created and destroyed and many things are going on at once. Writers have the difficult, albeit rewarding, task of bringing characters and worlds and situations to life for readers, but the pressures of creating these worlds often cause writers to face the dreaded WRITER'S BLOCK.
Not all writers will experience writer's block, and those who don't are quite lucky. If the ability to open your computer or notebook and put quality words on paper is always with you, you're amazing! For most of us, we face writer's block at least once in our writing lives. I have faced the inability to conjure up words a time or two myself.
I can't speak for other writers, but I can tell you how I combat the days when my desire to write goes into battle against my ability to write.
First, I have a nightly ritual that helps me every day, not just the days that I experience writer's block. I call it Writer Meditation. I take a hot shower, put on my favorite PJs, and I climb into bed. With the lights off and the room silent, I think about the story I want to write. I don't think too hard, mind you, but I let my mind drift into all the aspects of the story. I think about my characters, the world they live in, and the situations they are in. I naturally let the scenes between them play out in my head like a movie, right down to dialogue. Chances are I fall asleep before it's over, and sometimes I don't recall everything I thought about, but the ideas are still subconsciously there.
Second, I re-read a favorite book. Sometimes I just pick up a book and read a passage or two, other times I read the entire thing. If I can find that feeling again, the one that says the writer SPOKE to me, then it re-kindles my own desire to give my readers that same feeling.
Next, I listen to my playlist for the story I want to write. Do I have a playlist for every story? Usually. For example, if you want to know what my cyborgs series will have as a fundamental feeling, go to YouTube and search for Starset. Any song they sing pretty much tells the story of MY story. My cyborgs are captured in their music. (And they're an amazing band no matter what you're writing!) Breaking Benjamin's I Will Not Bow is the theme song for Forged in Fire, and Give Me Love by Ed Sheeran fueled Desolation. Each time I hear those songs my characters still come to mind.
Next, I watch a favorite show. For much the same reason as re-reading a favorite book, my favorite shows evoke in me many of the feelings I want my readers to feel. It gets me pumped up to get back in the game and bring them the same kind of enjoyment I felt. What are my favorite shows? Oh, I have a few: Sherlock, Killjoys, Dark Matter, 12 Monkeys, The Magicians and Sense8 to name a few. (All fabulous, check them out!)
And finally, if none of those things work to wake up my dormant writer's brain-- I stop trying. The human brain is a strange creature, and when it refuses to do what we want it's usually for a reason. Maybe we're over-stimulated, or too stressed out, so listening to the messages our brain is giving us is important, too. In this case, I watch more tv, read more books and listen to more music. My writer brain has never failed to return to me, refreshed and ready to work, when it's had a little rest!
So those are my strategies for combating writer's block. It's a dreaded occurrence for any writer, but it there are strategies to get yourself back in gear! Good luck, and may the words be with you!

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