When the Creative Well Goes Dry

I feel like I’ve been in the desert, at the bottom of an empty well, in … well, you can supply your own metaphor if you’ve ever felt like your creativity has fled. Do not let mixing metaphors hold you back. I find them very entertaining.

It’s been painful. And it’s lasted about three years. Now and then I’d find a drop or two that I’d quickly use up, but mostly I’ve been unproductive and feeling empty. Of course this is not a unique occurrence. Maybe it happens to nearly everyone who builds a life around being creative.

Here’s what they say to do about writers’ block: Sit yourself down and write anyway even if all you come up with is as compelling as the phone book. Write at regular hours, so many hours or so many words per day. Take long walks, alone. (That will relax you so the creative energy fairies will come back.) Or just forget about it for a while. Join a scuba club. Volunteer at the library. Clean out the attic and then paint it. Wait it out.

My process has involved a fair amount of whining, sad to say. Stints of sitting down and writing crap. Lots of walks. Joined a few groups having nothing to do with writing. And waited it out. The one thing that helped me the most was when my wonderful friend Kat, a writer who has also been in the wilderness, gave me “permission” to give it all up. Don’t have to write ever again. Okay to be finished with it.

I really like that psychological idea of “permission.” One would think that as a responsible, mature, reasoning adult, you could do without that sort of validation and door-opening from a friend. But it really helped. I was happier than I’d been in a long time after I told Kat I was maybe just finished with writing, and she said, “That’s okay.”

And several months later, I’m feeling the creativity seeping back into my dry well. I don’t feel full speed (yeah, mixed metaphors are lazy, so shoot me), but I don’t dread sitting down at the computer now.

What a relief. More on writing and creativity and feeling blocked next time.


About glcraig

Gretchen Craig’s lush, sweeping tales deliver edgy, compelling characters who test the boundaries of integrity, strength, and love. Told with sensitivity, the novels realistically portray the raw suffering of people in times of great upheaval. Gretchen was born and raised in Florida. She’s lived in climates and terrain as diverse as the white beaches of the Gulf Coast, the rocky shores of Maine, and the dusty plains of Texas. Her awareness of place imbues every page with the smell of the bayous of Louisiana, the taste of gumbo in New Orleans, or the grit of a desert storm. Rich in compelling characters and historical detail, Always and Forever is a sweeping saga of Josie and Cleo, mistress and slave. Amid Cajuns and Creoles, the bonds between these two remarkable women are tested by prejudice, tragedy, and passion for one extraordinary man. Gretchen’s first novel won the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence for Mainstream with Romantic Elements and was chosen as an Editor’s Pick in the Historical Novel Society reviews. Ever My Love, winner of the Booksellers Best Award from the Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America, continues the story of Cleo and Josie’s families, of their struggle for principle, justice, and love in a world where the underpinnings of the plantation culture are crumbling. Crimson Sky, inspired by the pueblos, mountains, and deserts of New Mexico, evokes the lives of people facing neighboring marauders and drought. Now the march of Spanish Conquistadors up the Rio Grande threatens their homeland, their culture, and their entire belief system.
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