Friday, May 10, 2019

What to do When the Writing Well Runs Dry

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

We all have times when life spirals out of control. Maybe it’s too many writing deadlines, a family crisis or holiday madness. Whatever it is, it can drain us dry. I’ve learned that these dry times come when I don’t the luxury of taking a couple of weeks of to rest and recover. I’ve had to figure out how to keep going and recover while I'm doing it.

Here’s what I do to feed my creative spirit.

First, I do a little inventory and look at what’s on my schedule. I take a look at what I have to do no matter what, and at the things I just feel like I should do. There’s a difference, trust me. Now’s the time to let go of everything that isn’t absolutely necessary.

Then I acknowledge that I’m dealing with mental fatigue. My mind is like a muscle that’s been overworked. It needs time to recuperate. To give it the time it needs, I watch the clock while I’m working and taking frequent breaks during the day. I’ll use those breaks to wander around the yard with my camera, take lunch with a friend, or just sit and enjoy a TV show.

Next I take a look at my disrupted routine. Many of you know I keep a pretty regular schedule. I have to, I’m too easily distracted as it is. A schedule helps me focus and stay productive. But when life spirals out of control, my schedule can degenerate into doing nothing more than sitting in front of the computer for twelve to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. No one can sustain that kind of workload for any length of time.

When that happens, I become very rigid with my schedule (including the break times). This helps me stay on track, even as I give myself time to recuperate. My writing time is be shorter and my breaks a little longer.

The fourth thing I address is the need to feed my creative spirit. I must rekindle that creativity that’s burned so low in my soul.
  • I spend more time reading—for pleasure. I may try a new author, or revisit an old favorite. I go where my whims lead me. NOTHING from my to-do reading list allowed!
  • I do some things that spark my creativity, like jewelry making or knitting. Something fun, but not something I do for money. Just opportunities that encourage my imagination to soar.
  • I go to the movies. This gives me the opportunity to immerse myself in worlds that other creative geniuses have imagined and most important, much-needed time with my husband and with friends.
  • Finally, I find a time for a short vacation. It may only be a one-day trip into the mountains or a local park, but my husband and I need the unplugged time with just each other as our focus. 
Now I’d love to hear from you. How do you refill and refresh your creative spirit? Share your suggestions in the comments section so we can all learn from each other.

What to do When the Writing Well Runs Dry - @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Tips to Refresh Your #Creative Spirit When the Well Runs Dry - @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)


  1. Thanks Ms. Edie, When this "squid runs out of ink", I stop pressing and go spend an afternoon outside. There's always chores that need doing on the ranch, but sometimes I'll just sit under the carport with a Gatorade or cup of coffee and play fetch with Bubba the chocolate lab. This "mindless time" gives my overtaxed brain (it doesn't take much) a change to process through thoughts and ideas at a less frenetic pace.

    1. Mr. Jim, those are great! Thanks for sharing, Blessings, E

  2. One more reason I miss the ocean. At least my city has two rivers and parks. Still, there is nothing more relaxing than a walk by the sea.

  3. I like to get in the kitchen and bake something yummy that's full of calories! But, I, too, like to read a book for pleasure, not a to-do, like you mentioned. And often, that will be a children's book! Thanks for the advice above! Great points.

    1. Julie, sometimes cooking does that for me too! Blessings, E

  4. Wonderful ideas for finding the creative spirit. For me, taking a walk, looking out of my home office window and playing with grandson helps renew and refresh me. :-)

  5. My go-to is a fictional book; something I read just for fun. Most other books I read are for edification or growth and it helps to "unplug" from pressure of production. This is an area of struggle for me as I'm trying to move from my regular day job into a full-time writing career. I appreciate your insight, Edie! :)

    1. Tammy, great insight! Moving to full-time writing is a difficult transition, but SOOOOOO rewarding! I'll be praying for you! Blessings, E

  6. Hi Edie,

    This is so timely for me. I’m drained and exhausted. I’ve rarely dealt with writers block, but I stared at the screen all day Wednesday. I couldn’t move because of my massive benchmark assignment . I finally got an idea right at dinner and ran to the computer only to work all night. It still was a half hour later, but it’s only because the plagiarism turnitin took that long. Thanks for the reminder that I probably need a day off. For now, I may go to a movie.

    Love you,