Refilling the Creative Well

“I’m feeling kind of creatively drained,” I admitted. It felt good to say it out loud, like a weight of expectation lifting from my shoulders. Even if that expectation was only put there by myself.

It’s been exactly a week since NaNoWriMo ended and I’ve written a grand total of maybe 1,000 words since then. Which is a bit of a problem since not only did I not win NaNo, I didn’t finish my manuscript. The last thing I want to do is lose momentum on a story I really want to complete and polish. But as much as I love this story, I had to admit that my creative well has been feeling a little parched.

I came back to work last Tuesday after spending a gloriously relaxing week with my family for Thanksgiving. Without TV and a high-speed internet connection, I focused on writing, reading, and spending time with people I love. Coming back to the office was jarring, especially once I was thrown into the trenches of new business pitching and strategy revamps. The end of the year in my work world is a dizzying pattern of high speed sprints interspersed with near-dead down time. And I had to admit that I’ve been struggling this week.

From the beginning, my manuscript was calling to me, begging me not to abandon it. I wanted to be home, writing. Or sneaking in writing on my lunch break. But the mental demands of work were too high. The weekend rolled around, bringing with it grey, rainy weather the likes Georgia hasn’t seen in months: perfect writing weather. Except that instead I raised my cliche book-nerd status to a whole new level by bringing home a kitty, who has a real name but is only ever referred to as Kitty in our house because as far as we’re concerned, she’s the only kitty in the whole world. The transformation from not-a-cat-person to obsessed pet parent has been swift and complete. I’m hoping this will soon lead to shooing kitty away from my keyboard as I attempt to write.

Kitty

She always looks slightly judgey

All of this was on my mind when my boss asked me, after two weeks of us both traveling, how I was doing. I could have said that everything is fine, that we’re handling things but we’re busy and need to hire an additional person for my team ASAP. Which is all true. Instead, I told her that I just wasn’t feeling things right now and that I was even questioning how much I want to be doing this whole marketing thing. After the election, there are a lot of things that just don’t feel like they matter as much and writing jazzy copy to sell things on social media is not high on my list of adding meaning to the world. Surprisingly, she understood (or not so surprising if you know her). We talked and our conversation poured a bit of water into the well, enough to do the work that pays me.

I’m still working on reviving the energy to get back into my manuscript. I’ve set a doable word count goal for the month and decided that any kind of non-work writing counts: journaling, blogging, novel writing, world-building and so on. The beautiful thing that NaNoWriMo teaches you, even if you don’t win, is that little by little, things add up. If you sit down to write every day, or every other day and commit to a small goal it’s manageable. And soon the grooves of habit are dug and your little daily blocks add up to something that would have seemed to big and unwieldy at the beginning.

Little by little by little, the story gets written. Drop by drop, the well is filled.

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