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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Kathleen O'Brien: When The Well Runs Dry

I’m on deadline.  Okay, I’m past deadline.  But I’m stuck.  This happens to me on every book, and yet every time it scares the bejeepers out of me.  What if I can’t push through?  What if my career is over? J

Thankfully, I always do push through, somehow—as His Highness reminds me whenever I emerge from my office, whining.  He knows that I don’t need another pity casserole at my Poor Me Party.  Instead, he offers a bracing, “You can do it!” and goes back to work.

He’s right.  I can.  I just have to take a deep breath and remember what’s really happening.  I’ve been writing for so long I’ve drained the creativity well.  I need to grab a bucket and get some more!

Here are some of the best ways I’ve found.   Only two rules:  It can’t involve my book directly, and it must make my inner child smile. 


1)     Play with paints and scissors.  Others call this “art journaling,” but that sounds a bit lofty for my rudimentary efforts. I don’t expect to be super good at art, and so there’s no stress involved.  I genuinely play.


2)     Commune with the outside world.  I walk.  I smell the flowers, listen to the birds and wind in the trees, meet the neighborhood dogs.  Here’s one fabulous owl I encountered on a long evening stroll.

3)     Listen to music.  I have about a thousand songs on my iTunes list, and 900 of them are ones I wouldn’t inflict on anyone else.  I am a born cornball, and I love the silliest, most sentimental oldies ever.  So I put in my earbuds and blast away.  My daughter recently sent me an old Conway Twitty song we used to share, called “I Don’t Know A Thing About Love.” If you know it, you know what I mean about silly/corny.

4)     Read.  I rarely read romances in this phase—way too stressful.  Often the book is so clever I feel I could never measure up. But all the other genres work beautifully!


5)     Write.  Yes, you saw that correctly.  To escape writing, I write.  But always things that are very different from my day job.  Right now, I’m in a poetry-writing spell.  The poems are mediocre, at best, but I don’t expect them to be great, so I don’t mind.  I’m putting together a bunch of short poems about the great loves of my life, one for each.  (The loves are not all people, just for the record.  J )

Those are my top five well-fillers.  They’re all free, or almost free, and they work! I can return to my desk, ready to pick up my own story and write like the wind.


How about you?  Do you have any great ideas for filling your creative well?  I’d love to hear them!  I’ll give away a copy of BETTING ON THE COWBOY (or any of my titles, if you’ve read that) to one poster today!

***Kathleen's winner is Kaelee.  Please contact Kathleen directly with your mailing address!***

25 comments:

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thank you for your post and giveaway, Kathleen. I'd be happy to share with you and everyone my techniques for overcoming writer's block. Alas, I can't; why? Because I've never had it.

My problem isn't lack of ideas. It's overcoming the obstacles, internal and external, that stand between my desire to write and actually writing.

You write poetry? Wow, you're full of surprises! You say your poems are mediocre at best? Why not publish them and let your readers be the judge!

Keep up the good work!

kalupy said...

You're a treasure, Mary Anne! But take my word for it, my poetry should remain eternally private. Also, if I were hoping to be published, the exercise would lose some of its therapeutic value, I think. Right now, it's play. It's mucking about in my psyche, picking up anything that glimmers to see what it might be, like a kid romping in mud puddles. It's great fun.

How lucky you are never to have faced writer's block! I wish I knew your secret.

irenelpynn said...

Reading, gaming, going for walks. And am I the only person who has ideas in the shower or on a long drive? It's kind of neat to get inspiration when my mind can really take time out to think, but it's also annoying to not be able to grab a pen or keyboard right away!

kalupy said...

Great ones, Irene! Well, except for the gaming! :) I'd be so stressed out trying to defeat monsters in video games that I'd never have another good idea in my life! ;-) But you're so right about the shower. Someone absolutely needs to invent the water-proof paper and pen!

RjCoona said...

I'm lucky enough to live with and around a lot of creative people who also have no qualms with voicing their true opinion. I can shoot the ideas I am churning in my head to them and they will truly tell me what sounds fun or cool and what just plain stinks. Having helpful and willing ears that I trust is a good way I get around my creative blocks.

kalupy said...

Wow, what's better than an eccentric, outspoken, opinionated family? ;-) Seriously, though, I know what you mean. I probably wouldn't ever write another word if I didn't have such a talented, generous family full of word people to help correct my course when I go awry!

Connie said...

I love to cook and putting together a big dinner for my family is exhausting but so much fun.

kalupy said...

Oh, Connie, you're so lucky! I wish I liked to cook, but I've never acquired the affection. I like to eat, though, so next time you're putting together something delicious.... ;-)

Pat Cochran said...

For me it's reading, blogging, or taking a nap!
Or for the really tough times, I play favorite
music and dance my little heart & head clear!

Pat C.

Kaelee said...

I am not a writer but there are times when I just feel down. At these times I try to return to the place in the mountains I was born and grew up at. If that's not possible, I head for the nearest mountains. I need to see peaks against a sky and smell the trees.

If neither of the above options is viable I find a hill to climb. just the act of climbing makes me feel so much better.

kalupy said...

Pat, I love the thought of dancing your heart and head clear! Are you willing to have witnesses? Or is this a purely private activity? I can jump about a bit while I'm listening to music, but like in my other areas of non-expertise I prefer not to be seen doing it! ;-)

kalupy said...

Kaelee, the "down" times and writer's block are VERY similar! :) I think you and I have that bonding-with-place characteristic in common. Nothing cheers me up like a visit back to my hometown--and I only moved about 90 miles away, so things aren't all that different here! I can't imagine living in a geography that was very alien. If you imprinted on mountains, it's no wonder you need to see peaks against the sky to feel at peace. It sounds fantastic, even to a flatlands Florida gal like me!

Lisa W said...

I don't write, though I wish I could, but I do do beading and card making. When I get stuck creatively I do one of three, bake, take a long relaxing bubble bath or listen to music (and if no one is home I dance). By the time I'm done one these things I'm usually more relaxed and can think clearer which makes it easier to finish my project.

Mary Preston said...

I'm into all my craft work. I knit, sew, crochet & embroider. It's relaxing & productive. At the moment I'm knitting a lot of different baby items in blue for a soon to be Grandmother.

kalupy said...

Lisa, I'm going to try the bubble bath idea next! It sounds fantastic!!! And I'm with you...dancing is for when the house belongs to me alone! :)

kalupy said...

I have often thought of trying to learn one of those crafts, Mary, as they look so soothing, and the product can be so rewarding! I'm not "handy" like that, but simple projects might not be beyond me, if I put my mind to it. I have some friends who love knitting, and the yarns are so heavenly! I love color, and I think I might just go a little crazy in the yarn store! :)

What a lucky grandmother she is to have a friend like you to knit for her!

Pat Cochran said...

Privately or family only!

Lory Lee said...

Yeah, I'm from a family who's creative juices oozes. My brothers a painter/tattoo artist and a lot more. My Mom is good with drawings and sewing, so as my others siblings. I'm into drawings and paintings too, sewing bags, clothes and a whole lot more. I just can't stay in a corner doing nothing!

Linda Henderson said...

I get outside and just look at the beauty that mother nature gives us. Or sometimes I like to go for a drive through the country and just look at old barns, farms and horses. That usually takes my mind to another place.

kalupy said...

Lory, sounds as if the Muse lives at your house, and your chances of having it "blocked" are pretty slim! What fun it must be! I'd love to be able to draw, but unfortunately I'm stuck at the stick figure stage. :)

kalupy said...

Linda, I'm with you! The outdoors has a special healing quality, doesn't it? We are too suburban around here to have much in the way of old barns and horses, but I've been known to drive off to some quaint old-Florida town, or even as far as Ocala, to get just such a view!

kalupy said...

Kaelee, your name was drawn at random to be the winner! If you'll send me your snail-mail address to KOBrien@aol.com, and let me know which title you'd like to get, I'll send it off to you ASAP! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your feelings about unclogging those emotional blocks!

kalupy said...

Kaelee, you're the winner! Send me your address and your book choice at KOBrien@aol.com, and I'll get the book out to you as soon as I can! Thanks so much!

Kaelee said...

Thank you Kathleen! I'll send an email off right away.

Kaelee said...

Thank you Kathleen! I sent an email off right away.