Meditations on Creative Juices

I haven't been writing for the past four months, and I'm trying to understand why, out of nowhere, I suddenly get the urge to WRITE WRITE WRITE like there's no tomorrow.

Maybe it's something like Mars being in retrograde, or some sort of biological cycle - something I have no control over, but I've been trying to put the pieces into a sensible whole.

And I think I've hit on something: I write when I'm bored, and since I am bored most of the time, I'm a perpetual writer.

BUT the last four months I've been consumed by moving and exploring the new neighborhood, and getting situated with the new job, etc. so I haven't had a chance to be bored. My thoughts have been all tied up in living my life. 

I can feel myself getting less stressed about the job, and settling into my house, so naturally, my brain starts to wander; and it has invariably wandered back to my current WIP, thank god.

I've found that, if I'm trying to work, and my mind goes off on a tangent like a two year old with a shiny new whistle, it's counterproductive to try and stop it. All of those 'lock your computer down so you can work' programs and apps don't work for me because when my Brain Two Year Old is deprived of something interesting, it refuses to work. I will then be spending my time trying to massage some creative juices out of my brain while it tells me to fuck off.

Many of you may have the same problem. 

So try this: Next time your Brain Two Year Old gets a new whistle, let it play. Give it a 10 minute time limit and let it exhaust itself on the topic. It will be much easier to bring your brain back to work then if you are still hung up on the new toy.

This can, and has, backfired for me. But the percentage of time I waste trying to corral my brain is SIGNIFICANTLY higher than the time I loose when my brain wanders off on a tangent for too long.

Something else I've discovered about my creative Juices: I write better when I'm miserable. 
Not depressed, you understand, because I have been that and it's not at all conducive to a creative endeavor. Miserable.

When I was in India for five months, I oscillated between being thrilled spitless at all the things and people around me, and wallowing in abject misery. 
This was because of many things that started with the frequency of stomach viruses I got (I lost 30lbs in India, and not in a good way), and ends with the unrelenting, soup-like heat. 
BUT some of my best writing was done then, while I was living out of a backpack, sleeping on trains, and being a general vagabond. 
I look back at my creative journals from that time and think: 'Man, that was a great piece of writing.' 
This is, btw, something I NEVER think about my creative journals. Usually it's: 'I guess I could make that into something good eventually' at best.

And maybe the quality and quantity of the writing had something to do with my surroundings. I had new things to look at every day and a constant supply of things to feed my creativity - old stories, crazy experiences, etc.

Plus, there were long periods of downtime when I was in India where we couldn't really go wandering, and we couldn't really do anything BUT write.

Usually my writing is better when I'm abroad, just because of the quality of the experiences I have.

I guess, in the end, I have surmised that I need several conditions to be creative

- I must have sufficient creative food
- I must have downtime (read: I must be bored occasionally)
- I must be out of my comfort zone (read: Miserable)

I've also found that certain things can also KILL your creativity. For me, it's TV. And I'm not saying this in a snobby I-don't-own-a-TV kind of way. I own several TVs. But when I sit down and watch something - even on netflix with no commercials - my brain is only receiving information, not being actively engaged. No matter how clever the story is, or how well-done the quality, it's still just sapping up my brain-power.

I limit TV watching to when I'm doing mind-numbing tasks: folding laundry, cleaning my room, cooking, etc.

This is something you should all figure out for yourself - what makes you creative? What feeds your writing? Do you have to take walks by yourself every once in a while (like I do)? Do you take a shot of whiskey before you start to write? Tell me about it in comments!

Before I sign off, I'd like to mention that my BFF has moved to Scotland (ABANDONING ME) and she is going to waitress and write like a true penniless writer. She's keeping a blog about her adventures as an American in Scotland and as a penniless writer, so you should check it out!


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About Me

I am a legit writer living in Durham, North Carolina, working at a publishing company, and ruthlessly fumigate for travel bugs on a daily basis. Follow my adventures as I try to get published, learn marketing voodoo, and pretend to be an adult.

Other Blogs

I have traveled a lot in the past teaching English and just being a general vagabond, so I have some blogs in my past. I will be consolidating them all - slowly but surely - into a single blog:

No Cilantro Extra Olives

This blog already contains my adventures in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, such as they are.

Updates on my other blogs, from Korea to India will be posted as I go through the laborious process of pulling them from their current blogs into that one.

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