Guest Post by Joely Sue Burkhart

When the Well Runs Dry

Sometimes when I’m under stress, I actually work better.  The more I have to do, the more efficient I become.  That’s important since I have a full-time day job, three kids, and still must find time to write for three publishers.  But sometimes, it doesn’t matter how hard I push, or how stressed or excited I am about prospects, I just can’t get any momentum.

Every word is like pulling teeth.

Have you been there?  I don’t think it’s really “writer’s block.”  To me, that’s an absolute refusal of the mind to find a single word.  You may not even have the desire to think about writing, let alone the muse to actually put words on the page.  But this slow slog can be troubling, and I’ve always wondered what would happen if I didn’t stop and tend to the artist inside of me.

If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.  She talks about the well of creativity, a stream of higher power and imagination flowing about us everywhere.  All we have to do is reach for it, open ourselves, and listen to the Creator.  It sounds easy, but when you’re tired, confused, or consumed by self doubt, it can be a frightening and difficult prospect.

I never seem to find the time to make regular artist’s dates with myself, but I’ve learned to slow down a bit and indulge my inner artist.  Like…

* Watching old classics and foreign films, like the black and white Seven Samurai that inspired The Magnificent Seven; Curse of the Golden Flower, Red Cliff, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Hangover Square, Scarlet Pimpernel and many others.

* Working on my hand crafts, like crochet and cross-stitch.  I also took a knitting class.

* Going for a regular walk.  Even 20 minutes can help relieve stress and get the mental juices flowing.

* Listening to new-to-me music, like Apocalyptica.  A big winner that has really inspired me lately is Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri

What works for you when you’re stuck or the project isn’t going as well as you’d like?

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Comment on this guest post to win an early copy of HURT ME SO GOOD, coming 10/5 from Samhain Publishing!

Joely Sue Burkhart always has her nose buried in a book, especially one with mythology, fairy tales, and romance. She, her husband, and their three monsters live in Missouri. By day, she’s a computer programmer with a Masters of Science degree in Mathematics. When night falls, she bespells the monsters so she can write.    Contest:  Review or rate any of Joely’s books to be entered to win a $50 gift certificate!  Details

8 thoughts on “Guest Post by Joely Sue Burkhart

  1. I definitely have found that taking time out from writing to pursue other art-y things helps my muse a lot. I think it’s because I get to a very stressed point of “I must write now!” and end up blocked. Then taking time off lessens the pressure, thus removing the block.

    Listening to music works well, or immersing myself in another author’s world – either reading or watching tv shows. Especially if the music/book/show matches the mood of what I’m trying to write — by finding that emotion elsewhere, I’m able to capture it and bring it back to my own writing.

  2. Don’t enter me cuz I’m reading Hurt Me So Good at the moment.

    OMG hon I love Apocalyptica. They are made of awesome and one of the best bands I ever saw life. I’m totally addicted to a song at the moment Wonderful Life by Hurts. Totally addicting. And they sing about a Susi so yeah I’m a bit biased. 😉

  3. Great post! And, oh yeah, I’ve been there! 🙂 For me, it really helps to take a break from my writing by reading. If I pick up a can’t-put-it-down-until-the-very-last-word novel, it refreshes me and gets me pumped up to get writing on my own work again. Should I not be able to find something new that draws me in, I can always pick up an old favorite to read. Sometimes, I even go back and read some of my old stuff. The energy always gets flowing then!


    1. Destiny, I sometimes dangle current releases in front of my nose like a carrot. “I can’t read Larissa Ione’s latest yummy demons until I finish…!”

  4. Thanks so much for hosting me, Kait!

    I agree, A.M. — music helps me so much. It can put me in the right mood — and it makes it easier for me to switch projects back and forth by playing a specific song.

  5. I work better under pressure as well. There’s just something about an impending deadline that makes me focus like nothing else. But when I’m in need of some new inspiration, I usually grab a trusted (and creative) friend to bounce ideas off of. I’m very much a social writer, and I like finding all the different angles I didn’t even consider in a mass brainstorming effort. But if no one’s around, I stop what I’m working on and do something completely different, preferably with my hands.

    Also, Apocalyptica is amazing. I just saw them in concert this month, and they blew me away.

    1. Julie, I’ve heard of writers who get on IM and brainstorm back and forth. I don’t think that would work for me personally but for social writers, it’s a lifesafer! I’d loooove to see Apocalpytica live! Whoa. So cool.

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