I recently wrote about how making myself think creatively helped me to be more creative. It was the single best thing I’ve done to boost my imagination (aside from my daily cup of tea, of course), but it’s not something that stands on its own. Creative burnout is real, and just like muscles need to rest to grow, sometimes the imagination does, too. It’s something I forget.
When I first starting writing Of Fire and Steel, I was adamant about working on it every day. I am a person of habit, and something I still do (six years later) is make myself open Scrivener every day and write something, even if it’s just a sentence. There is a voice in my head that makes me feel guilty when I’m not using free time to write. Often that voice has a point. A current WIP is probably a better use of my time and energy than arguing with someone on Facebook. What I was reminded of this weekend, though, is that sometimes binging on Netflix and cookie dough ice cream is completely appropriate.
Over the last two weeks I’ve had two big ideas start spinning in my mind. Two brand new and entirely unrelated worlds. I’ve been organizing research and inspiration for them, giving them time to flesh out in my mind, working out some of the basic elements, compiling things to look into later. I’ve been constantly thinking about these things, finding further inspiration everywhere, and dreaming about them. Creatively speaking, it’s been a lot of work.
When I sat down to open my WIP, The Forging Legends, I felt exhausted just looking at it. I read a paragraph that needed work and could not come up with the words to rewrite it. It felt like there was just nothing up there. So I turned on Netflix (the first time I wasn’t putting on a kids’ show in weeks) and busted out the ice cream. Usually, I can not sit and watch TV without doing something else, even if that something else is just Facebook or email. But, I sat there for an hour and a half content to be fully absorbed in the TV. All weekend, I was watching the newest season of Longmire when I had free time instead of working on my WIP.
Three days later, I miss my story. It took me about two minutes to rewrite that paragraph and I’m back to my usual pace with The Forging Legends. The two new ideas are still rolling around up there, but now it seems like everything has it’s own space again. I’d been so wrapped up in the excitement and allure of the new creations that I was working my imagination in it’s usual down time and I didn’t realize how essential those breaks could be.