I guess I should start out saying that I had written over forty stories and when my editor asked for a new one about a couple in England I was stumped. I had no mojo or idea what to write at all. AT ALL.
So, of course I kept trying to force ideas.
I went through trope lists, stared into the void of social media, and basically just kept kicking myself because I couldn’t be creative. Y’all, this was obviously not the right thing to do. Because the more I tried to force it, the more my mind went black.
So, I decided just to step back. I opened up my Netflix account and decided to binge. But also, I should note, when I binge, I also need to feel like I’m doing something so I had a huge pile of socks to match in front of me.
Picture it, me on the floor with a bunch of dogs around me and a pile of socks, going through my Netflix queue. It had been a while since I watched Queer Eye, so I decided, in my sock folding haze, to put on the latest season. After a few episodes, one caught my eye. It was about a man who had inherited his great aunt’s house that hadn’t been redecorated since the 1970’s. I put a pin in that idea and kept folding socks.
When Queer Eye was done, that idea still floated around in my head, so I decided to binge another show. Secrets of Great British castles. As soon as I finished my last pair of socks and Dan Jones opened his mouth, I had an idea. I grabbed my phone and texted my editor, “What about a story with an English Lord who inherits his great aunt’s castle and hires a curator to help him clear up all of her old items.”
My editor texted me back “You had me at castle.”
Thus, Heired Lines was born.
Does this always work for me? The short answer of it is yes and no.
I always find that when I force creativity, is when its ultimately stifled. The best advice I can ever give myself or someone suffering is to take a break. My break usually consists of binge watching and folding clothes. I’ve also been known to do some of the following.
Choose as many as you think will be helpful if you’re trying to find your creativity again.
- Take a shower (why is it all best ideas seem to come from the shower? I’ve been known to take multiple a day when I need ideas).
- Read a book in a different genre than I’m writing (For me, I’ll usually pick up a cozy mystery when I’m stuck in writing a contemporary romance novel).
- Eat a piece of cheese and take a nap. (Okay, strange, but I’ve heard that cheese will make you dream, so when I’m stuck, I eat a piece of cheese before bed or take a nap).
- Stay off social media and go outside. (Sometimes social media can just make me upset seeing other people be creative. So, I’ll take a break and go for a walk or, in my case, order thirty trees from Arbor Day and plant them with my husband. Totally normal things).
- Foster dogs (Yes, like my characters, I’ve adopted, rescued, and fostered a bunch of dogs. Believe it or not, they’ve helped inspire a lot. Or just been really cute to cuddle at my feet while I write).
- Make a playlist. (If I have an idea what my story is going to be about, I’ll try and do a search from vague ideas in the song and put it together in Spotify. I tend to play this over and over as I write and get a feel for it all).
- (I have to end on lucky number 7). My favorite and the one that seems to work for me: Binge watch TV shows or documentaries. (See? They’re good for something!)
So, if you’re having trouble being creative right now, don’t push yourself so hard or force it. It’ll come when it comes, but if you need a little push, maybe try some Netflix.