- Different ways we spend our creativity
- How to focus on creative health
- Managing creativity on a deadline
- The story shared in this episode: how writing every day actually harmed me creatively, and how I rebounded from that to find healthier, more focused writing time
“Have you ever had a moment where you sit down to write, but all you feel is drained and as if there’s nothing waiting for you – no plots, no stories, no characters, nothing? That’s what it feels like to be creatively drained and to have spent all your creativity.”
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After you listen, join our community by commenting on the podcast below. How are you spending YOUR creativity? How has this affected your writing? Are there days or times each month when you feel more or less creative? Do some introspection as you go through this month and see where and when you feel tapped out, vs when you feel an abundance of energy.
As with many of my podcast episodes, I have a FREE resource to help you. Download your worksheet to help outline how you’re spending your creativity.
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[00:00:00] In this week’s episode, we’ll be talking about something we do all the time but may not realize it: spending our creativity. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, please keep listening.
[00:00:10] You may write alone, but you are not alone. Inside the Writer’s Soul focuses on how personal experiences can inform your writing and help you speak from the soul to really connect with readers and other authors as well. Your writer’s soul doesn’t need to take the writing and publishing journey alone. Join me, your host M. Khan, and let’s move forward together.
[00:00:38] Hello and welcome to another episode of the podcast. I apologize in advance for my scratchy voice, I am recovering from a cold. So today we’re going to be talking about a concept we all know without realizing it, spending our creativity. Like money and energy, creativity is a force that ebbs and flows as well, and the more mindful we are of how we spend it, the better we can utilize it when we really need it.
[00:01:04] Creativity is spent in a number of different ways. At home, you might rearrange a closet or a cabinet or make all of your things fit into one tiny studio apartment closet like me. Or you find a creative fix to something that’s broken or doesn’t work quite the way you need it to. At your day job, you might spend creativity on projects or even in how you navigate office politics. Even when I worked in a department store, I spent time creatively folding and arranging clothes just so. In relationships, you may use creativity in the ways that you help others or in the way you cajole your kids to eat their vegetables or to finally go to sleep. In writing, it’s not just books, but you might be writing blog posts or social media posts, you might be responding to readers, or writing query letters. Maybe you’re designing graphics and cover art, and on and on and on. So you spend creativity in a number of ways, each and every day, even if you’re not realizing it.
[00:02:07] Have you ever had a moment where you sit down to write but all you feel is drained, and as if there’s nothing waiting for you? No plots, no stories, no characters, nothing. That’s what it feels like to be creatively drained and to have spent all of your creativity. There are a lot of reasons for this. Creative energy doesn’t stand alone. It intersects with your physical energy, your mental health, and other factors, and that’s one reason why we often don’t think of spending only our creative energy. But I hope after you hear my story today, you’ll realize the various ways your creative energy is being spent in your own lives and how it can affect your writing.
[00:02:47] Today’s story piggybacks off the story I shared in a previous podcast, Episode 2 “Why You Don’t Need to Write Every Day to Be an Author”. If you haven’t listened to that one yet, I’ll share the relevant bits of it here and add what I didn’t share in that episode. If you’ve already heard the start of the story before, I hope you’ll bear with me for the next few minutes so I can share it with those who may be listening for the first time.
[00:03:12] So 2015 was my most prolific year to-date, but it also set the stage for health issues I’d battle for years to come. Within two years, in fact, I’d venture from writing and publishing the most books in a year to publishing no books at all. I published six books in 2015, which included writing five of them that year, and forcing myself to write that much pushed my physical health to the limit and also pushed my creativity to the limit, too. I struggled through 2016, but by 2017 the pace I was setting for myself was too much and I was depleted not only physically, but emotionally, spiritually, and creatively, too. I had spent too much of my creativity and had none left for other facets in my life that needed it. Often we end up using our creativity before we even sit down to write. In 2017, I had the opposite problem and it spent so much of it writing that I had nothing left for anything else. My choice became not only to focus on my physical health, but I had to focus on my creative health, too. I had to decide when and how often I really needed to write and then spend my physical and creative energy accordingly.
[00:04:30] My goal was and still is to become a full-time author one day. I knew I couldn’t keep up this punishing pace if I was in it for the long haul or even the short haul. I needed a creativity reset. My plan of action then became to re-evaluate my life and what I was writing. I have a long running series under a pen name and decided to keep that going. I actually love the characters and settings I had created and I didn’t want to see it end because I felt I had a lot more stories I wanted to tell. I could feel those stories lurking underneath my creative exhaustion. I just needed to give myself time to rest before jumping fully back into it again, so I took a break from writing. During that break, I spent time healing physically, but I also spent time healing creatively. I didn’t force a single word from my head for my books. I thought of writing, I thought of characters, but I never forced myself to think about any of them. I let them come organically. It was a revelation. By not forcing my creativity, when it wasn’t ready, I allowed my muse time to more fully develop characters before I ever set them down on paper. The result of this is that I’m writing richer characters and plotlines that I’m very proud of. Some of my favorite characters came after that creative break, and some of my best writing.
[00:05:55] In my opinion, though, it was a very hard lesson learned. Acknowledging that my creative energy needs brakes too was one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a writer since I also have a day job. I also changed my writing process as a result of this experience. I actually don’t usually write on weekdays anymore because I realized I tend to use most of my creative energy at work on those days. I now write almost exclusively on weekends, which gives my muse several days to ponder plot points before I sit down and write again.
[00:06:29] You may be wondering, but what about deadlines? That’s always a consideration, of course. I do take extra days off work when I have a deadline looming which definitely helps, and other federal and office holidays throughout the year which I have off help, too. Sometimes I do push myself near a deadline, but the key thing is that I don’t push myself to extremes anymore. I’ve also surrounded myself with editors that follow my belief of “health and family first”. I’m not stingy with my creative energy and other parts of my life. I just understand it better now and I know how to manage it for maximum success, whether I’m working on a book or whether I’m working on a creative endeavor in another part of my life.
[00:07:14] Now I want to hear from you. How are you spending your creativity? How has this affected your writing? And are there days or times each month when you feel more or less creative? Do some introspection as you go through this month and see where and when you feel tapped out versus when you feel an abundance of energy?
[00:07:35] As with many of my podcast episodes, I have a worksheet to help you check out the show notes for links to my blog where you can download it for free. And while you’re there, don’t forget to leave a comment about this podcast and join our community of writers and listeners.
[00:07:51] Thank you for listening to this episode. Check out the show notes for links to my blog and our community where you can get involved in the discussion and support others. While you’re there, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to get to free and powerful tools to help you. One: access to my growing library of free resources for authors; and Two: you’ll also get access to my exclusive writing challenge “How to Write Faster in 14 Days” where I share all my tips and techniques that helped me finish over 20 works in five years. Check out the show notes for all the links and thanks again for being part of this community.