How I’m Getting Back in the Creative Game

I recently wrote about pulling creativity out from a bad job. This is something I’m just getting started with myself. I’ll admit: I took some time off of writing. I didn’t want to, but struggling with work and family problems, I was too exhausted to think of anything creative to say. It’s a bad excuse, and one I wouldn’t accept from anyone else, but there it is. Now, I’m back. And here’s my game plan.

1. One hour a day- minimum. This used to be my pattern. Even if I had to be at work at 6 AM, I would still get up an hour early to write. I’m going back to this. It’s important to my mental health. This time I haven’t been writing has been unfortunate. Some people are morning writers, and others are night writers. I have a friend who swears by scheduling one night a week as Write Night, and she writes not stop all evening. Every day works better for me, in order to form a solid habit.

2. Pour my problems into my writing. No matter what’s going on, I’m going to use the emotions and problems to fuel my writing, rather than take away from it. This was something that I used to do, but I reached a level of exhaustion I’d never experienced before, and I stopped. That was stupid. Never again.

3. Don’t get stuck in the editing swamp. Always be on the first draft of something. I don’t know about you, but first drafts are just good for my soul. I get all excited as ideas flow into my brain, about this chapter or that character. I need that excitement and creativity in my life! So instead of ignoring Project B for 6 months to edit, I’ll edit Project A as I write Project B.

4. Take a backseat. I’ve always been a pretty ambitious person. I decide I want something and put all of my energy and focus into getting it. Recently, this hasn’t served me so well. I get focused on something I think I want, spend years trying to achieve it, and then realize it’s not going to make me happy. So now, I’m trying to take a more laid back approach. Go slow and see what works. This applies well to writing because I’m not going to rush through rounds of editing to get something to a publishable state. I’m going to take my time. I’ll still write every day, but not push myself to meet word count goals. I’m going to let my work marinate.

Do you have any writing rules for yourself? Let me know!

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How to Draw Creativity from Unlikely Sources: The Bad Job

“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” -Orson Scott Card

Often, people think of their day job as the necessary evil to make their creative dreams possible. I fall into this trap myself. And I have a particularly tough day job. Every day, I work a minimum of 12 hours. Yes, that’s not a typo. I often work between 12 to 14 hours a day. 5 days a week. For months on end. It’s the unfortunate truth of the television industry.

There are a lot of tough aspects about my job: the long hours, the low pay, and the constant contact with a few people with MASSIVE EGOS. (I’ve worked on 8 different tv shows, and let me tell you, it’s not the people at the top with the big egos. The people at the top of my show are all awesome! It’s always people in the middle, who are grasping for power.)

While my case of long hours might be extreme, almost everyone has unique problems with their job. I love the short story Orientation as an example of crazy workplaces. Office Space is of course a great example, as is this clip from NCIS.

Here’s how I use bad bosses and ridiculous jobs to fuel my creativity:

Writing it out. The simplest, and maybe most effective, way to process what’s going on when you’re starting to feel a bit crazy. I’m no nonfiction writer, but it’s nice to pound out my problems on the keyboard.

-Using character motivations and emotions from the day. When I go and sit at my keyboard, it’s impossible for me not to fuse something about my current situation with what I’m writing. Whether it’s simply a single line, or a motivation for an entire scene or story, putting your current feelings on the page is a great way to write emotion. The reader will really feel them!

-Live through your art. Dreaming about wild adventures and daring romances is the perfect escape from the narcissistic drone of your boss behind you as you take on the same repetitive task for the day. (Corporate accounts payable, this is Nina speaking. Just a moment.)

-Dream a little harder. Wanting out of a particular situation can be inspiring to work harder to move on. Take action, make changes, and get ready for your future!

If all else fails, your bosses can’t be as bad as these guys, right? (Although mine would definitely compete with Miranda Priestley for craziest demands.)

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