#76: When the Creative Well Has Run Dry

Forums Forums Misfits & Daydreamers Newsletter Archives #76: When the Creative Well Has Run Dry

This topic contains 16 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  Kirstie Earlene 1 year, 10 months ago.

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    Coming soon!



    Hey Sooz!

    Just thought I’d stop in and share what I like to do when I need a QUICK creativity boost.

    I know when you write you love to listen to music, like awesome soundtracks, Two Steps from Hell, etc. (Your playlists are great, thanks for sharing!) I also like to write to this type of music (or no music), but when I need a creative boost, sometimes I’ll listen to OTHER types of music–ones that tell beautiful narratives (weaving together words and music) to tell a story in as little as 3 minutes! This can be a super quick creativity boost, and gives unique insight into a different type of storytelling–while still using words! One of my favorite songwriters to listen to for this is Sara Bareilles. She’s such an amazing lyricist and musician and her “song-stories” inspire me to be a better writer.

    I hope this helps, and best of luck!

    All the best,




    I really appreciated your post about your creative well running dry. I am in the middle of editing a sequel right now, and it feels like such a slog. When I am having trouble focusing or being productive, I get out into nature. There are a lot of studies that show the positive impact being outside has on your brain chemistry, in particular, your creative side! I also find that writing or editing with a pen and paper helps break the logjam. If I were you, I’d head out to the park with a notebook and just give yourself a few hours to sit and write! You’ll get there!




    For me (to answer your recharge question – daydreamers),

    Inputs: Beach + Brew + Vitamin D

    Output: Soul Reset.

    Another thing is people watching.  Head to some college town (like Athens!) or smaller city around you and find the art district, just get out and look at people who think different, that always creates new ideas (I don’t write as much per se – I code, but it does give me good ideas for different products that I would not have seen in my day to day life).

    Edit:  Also if you need something short term and have not watched Stranger Things (on Netflix) – take a break and watch it – well worth it.  (~8Hr run time)


    • This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by  cyanbane.


    Hey Sooz 🙂

    I’ve been reading your newsletters for about 6 months now and I just wanted to reach out and say it means a lot to hear an author I really admires struggles with the same thing I do. Sometimes I feel like authors -especially indies like me- see other people turning out a book every 3 months and spend a lot of time wishing that were us. I wish I could write at the speed of light, but I can’t, and it seems like whenever I get writer’s block I spend months rewriting the same chapter different ways over and over to try to get that “flow” back. And it’s not that I’m not passionate about the story -I totally am- I just can’t force words onto a page or keep going if the feeling isn’t right… So hearing that you go through the same burn out/block is just really inspiring because sometimes I feel like it’s just me in my head.


    As to suggestions for how to deal, my #1 is new music. I listen while I write and if I’ve listened to the same song too many times, no matter how passionate I am about it fitting a scene, I can’t move on. And I’m a weirdo who can’t write in silence most of the time so that doesn’t help. Spend a day away from writing and just surf youtube/spotify/itunes for new stuff and compile it. Another thing that helps is when I switch up where I write, if you get burnt out on laptop, use your desktop (make sure uber comfy chair), and vice versa. And lastly, stop writing and read for a week to your heart’s content… I just did that and when I came back I felt really refreshed. I hate stepping away from writing, especially when you know you are already past the deadline you want, but every time I have broken through that pit of despair it was because I took time away and felt reenergized.

    Anyways, love your books & your newsletters. Can’t say how much it means that you “keep it real” about your writing experience 😀

    ~ Rachel



    Hi Susan,

    Thanks so much for sharing this newsletter. It’s nice to know that even established authors struggle from time to time. I’m going to echo what was posted above , and add on to the bit about being in nature. Get yoself outside, trust me. Somewhere nice, a park, by a river, at the lake. I usually print off a chapter or two and revise by hand while at the lake, and then later at home I put in the edits. This way you are still working on words, but you’re also doing something good for your soul. Nature works wonders.

    If you have time, I’d also suggest some light physical activity, walking, yoga, biking, swimming. I know these are activities that take time away from writing, but I find exercising the body frees the mind. I usually solve my plot problems while “in the zone” of an endorphin high. Yoga, and light meditation really help too! Wasn’t there some wise dude that said everyone should meditate 10 minutes a day….if you’re stressed, 30? Take the time for yourself, because we need your words, and you need to be in top working order to create them.  I’m sharing a video from a Buddhist monk on how to meditate anytime, anywhere. Short, funny video to get you kickstarted on training the monkey mind. 😉

    Also, from a reader standpoint, I will gladly wait a little bit longer to get the book you’re truly happy with. Hope this helps and can’t wait to read more.




    I’d suggest a writing retreat if possible. Look for places on AirBnb. Sometimes they have, in more rural areas or near beach houses, writing retreats advertised. I’d bring three books that you’ve wanted to read with your laptop to some place that is far enough away to be new and peaceful.

    Read. Write. Read. Write.

    Bring foods that you like and stock the fridge.

    Read. Write. Read. Write.

    Remember if your primary writing time isn’t yielding the same results, step away from the computer. Go for a walk, read a chapter, then come back to the keyboard (or notebook). For me traveling helps with my creativity well and it helps to get away.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by  kkealakai.


    Thank you, EVERYONE. I was not expecting so many awesome ideas to come pouring my way!! I appreciate it all so very, very much. And also, just learning I’m not alone — that’s so helpful right now!!

    @lmulcahy: You know, I haven’t tried this!! I really love that idea, of switching up my music!! I will totally give this a try! Thank you!!

    @claireluana: I actually already write entirely by hand, and revise entirely by hand! It is literally the ONLY way I can create!! But I’ve been toying with a change of scenery. Thank you!!

    @cyanbane: Oh, people watching! I love that idea!! We have a huge festival coming to my town this weekend, so I think I shall go peruse! Thank you!

    @rachelecarter: girl, Imma email you. <3

    @canadiansabs: It’s funny you suggest this! I do yoga twice a day AND meditate everyday. I added them to my routine last Novemeber, when I was already running on fumes. But…I think I’ve gone past what even those wonderful routines can give me. I’m so tired, I can barely even get myself to the dojo these days–and as anyone who follows me knows, karate is my second love!! 🙁

    @kkealakai: You’re the second person to suggest this today. And I’m MAJORLY considering it now…Thank you for giving me more motivation to try it!! <3





    I am just a reader. However, it sounds like you are exhausted. I can’t read under either of two situations: 1) I’m exhausted. or 2) I don’t realize I’m not in the mood for what I think I want to read. 1 is actually easier to deal with. If I’m unable to sleep, it turns out that listening to an audio book that is a nice comforting book will put me to sleep. It helps if I have read the book, so I’m just drifting off listening to old friends. The narrator has to be good. I’ve managed to survive several bouts of insomnia by listening to well-loved books. I’m a huge YA fantasy fan, but sometimes historical books work well too. The problem with them is that I haven’t read them, and so I wake up and want to re-wind. I just accept that I’ll end up going back.

    The second situation is more difficult, but since I don’t know you and have diagnosed exhaustion, I’m less concerned that I don’t have a really good situation. I think in that case, you have to accept that all the great books you want to read are not the ones that your brain wants too read and either look for old loved books (can you tell I re-read favorites?) or look for books that have absolutely no obvious redeeming value.

    Finally, much as I really, really want to see that book come out, I want to read the book that you want to write, not the book that you have to get out to meet a deadline. I do live in the real world, so I understand that you might not be able to write the former, but I am willing to wait.

    Best of luck in finding the creative well re-fill you need.



    Hi Sooz,

    two ideas came to mind.

    1. I’ve been stuck this week-only 10k words to go-and going nowhere fast. I bought the Plot Whisperer workbook and 5 pages in I had stacks of notes. So maybe pull out a craft book? Something you haven’t read for a long time  or buy a new one

    2. Join us at the Madcap writing Retreat with Kiersten White in TN on August 4th! I think there’s still some space left. The scheduled sessions are mainly for the “aspiring author” side – but there’s also a stack of pubbed authors who are coming as well. http://Www.madcapretreats.com

    3. Get outta dodge

    pick a place that’s a couple hours drive away, book a hotel for a night and go

    OR-visit that girlfriend you haven’t seen for a while

    hang in there! Lana




    Hey Sooz!

    I know what it’s like to have the well run dry.  I’m just getting over my own museless period.  But the one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t push yourself to produce.  The more you try the more you feel dried up.  You MUST take care of yourself first otherwise you won’t be able to take care of anyone else.  And that includes your writing.

    Also, don’t feel as if you are letting everyone down.  You aren’t.  We, your fans, love you and will be hear ready to read your books when they come out.  Of course we can’t wait, but the anticipation is part of the fun!

    So take a break.  Just a short one.  Take a walk, pet your dog or cat (if you have one), binge watch something, but give yourself time to recharge and you will be surprised at the results.

    You got this!






    You’ve already gotten some great ideas so I’ll just 1) suggest maybe some short stories or even articles? Short pieces so you will feel that sense of completion with them and maybe they will spark those creative juices to flow and 2) I’ll send some mental/creative energy your way from my own well! You can do it!



    Hey there Sooz!

    I’ve been dealing with the empty well problem on the new book I’ve been drafting – mostly because of sleep deprivation and being kinda stuck in a rut of not having any new life experiences. It sucks. Especially when you don’t have a lot of free time to get out of said rut.

    You’ve already gotten a lot of great responses (one of my favorites is finding new music on Spotify!) so I’ll just add the one little new thing I’ve started doing: adult coloring books. I picked up the Lost Ocean one for my plane trip to Leviosa (which btw, you were so awesome to see at panels!!) and just found it really recharging to sit there and color. It sounds so juvenile, I know! But the illustrations are gorgeous and coloring them feels like you’re taking a hand in shaping its story, making it come alive. I’m not an artist, so it was really interesting to feel a narrative forming in such a different, visual way. Didn’t expect I’d be mentally shaping a backstory to these pictures I was coloring, haha.

    I remember you said you do all your writing by hand – so this may not be a good solution for you. But maybe it’d be a good break to do something different with your hands to kind of reset your brain? Like gardening or knitting or some other kind of art.

    Or maybe – if you write outside your house at all – go somewhere you’ve never been before, like a different part of town, a new library or coffee shop or park or art museum or wherever. I almost always get inspired by seeing other people’s art. Sometimes just a change in scenery and being around a different crowd can help wake up sleeping parts of your brain? In my not-really-scientific opinion. 😉

    You got this. Totally rooting for ya!


    (P.S. I am still a little starstruck from meeting you at Leviosa! Thank you for being so kind. 🙂

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by  heatherk.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by  heatherk.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by  heatherk.


    Hi Sooz!

    I was just going to add that when I don’t have much time for reading I love picking up a graphic novel or a middle-grade novel–something I can read in a day or two–and just enjoy a completely different method of story-telling. Some MG books I recently enjoyed were Maybe a Fox and Pax, but I’m also excited for The Night Parade.

    We are all rooting for you! You’ve gotten so many good responses and I hope some of them work for you! Good luck! <3



    Hey Sooz!

    Firstly, it is honestly very relieving to know that the person who wrote the glory that is Truthwitch sometimes struggles with this sometimes just like I do. I’m super sorry you’re so stressed out! But it does give me a bit of hope for myself. I have a character I’ve been working with for something like 7 years and just could never seem to keep up my enthusiasm about any of the worlds or stories I tried to put her in. I am confident now that I’ve finally found the world she belongs in, and I thought for sure after I graduated uni an had all this free time I would have nothing in my way of writing it. Turns out I’m excellent at getting in my own way 😉 Honestly, reading your newsletters are one of my motivators. I specifically went to seek out this most recent one for that reason because I hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet. It is really, really nice to be reminded that having periods where writing is like pulling teeth doesn’t make me less of a writer, and doesn’t doom me to failure. Because holy hell look at Truthwith!

    Have you tried reading short-stories instead of full novels? You could probably read one start to finish in those 15 minutes before you pass out. That way you can get a full story experience in between work sessions instead of glaring at a bookmark that has barely moved in a full length novel!

    Also during my time as a writing consultant I’ve found that a lot of writers benefit from getting to talk about their work with someone else instead of just staring at the paper/screen in a room by themselves all day. I have had a lot of writers come in feeling all the things you’re feeling, and leave a half hour later excited to run home and pump out a few more pages. Writing is internalized thoughts externalized, right? So is speaking! Sometimes all you gotta do is spend some time talking out your ideas with someone else who will get excited about them with you- even if its just a coffee date with your editor. Sometimes I’ll even use a voice-to-text app on my phone to write all the brilliance that comes out down for me or the writer I’m working with. You might be surprised what it records if you try it!

    Okay now I’ve written you a novel of a response. Sorry! I hope you find a way to punch a hole through your creativity dam soon! And thanks again so much for being so open about your writing experiences.

    Good luck! I have no doubt Windwitch is gonna rock!

    Katie <3

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by  Katsyxo.
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