Refilling the Creative Well

I apologize for being a day late with this post, but I swear I have an excellent excuse. Last night, instead of writing a post for this blog, I finished the revision of A STOLEN THRONE!

*cue ecstatic screaming*

Perhaps I should clarify what I mean by "finished." Because, no, it's not ready to venture out into the world in the form of queries. It's not even quite ready to land in my CPs' inboxes.  Last night, after much agonizing and brainstorming with the aforementioned brilliant CPs, I replotted (and wrote!) the new ending for the novel. Those last couple chapters are very rough, but they're written! And so, I can call this massive revision (during which I completely gutted nearly 2/3s of the novel) done!

So, what do I have left to do before AST ventures into the world?

I still need to review and line edit the last seven chapters of AST. They're short chapters mostly, so it won't take long, but after the new prose has cooled, I'll need to go through and make sure that all the new stuff works. I also have three chapters of notes from my local writing group to go over and implement (chapters 9-11). Once all that is done, I'll load AST onto my Kindle and read through it to double check for consistency issues and typos (and since I revised by POV, I also need to make sure the alternating chapters makes sense).

Once all that is done, I'll put together a list of questions for my CPs and send that off with the manuscript. After which I will obsessively check my email and simultaneously feel excited and terrified until I hear back from them.

But the best part? While my CPs have AST, I will be reading. A lot. For fun. And I cannot wait. I have so many books on my TBR list, and I'm beyond excited to dive into them.

And then, of course, comes the CP feedback, which is always helpful, but also always terrifying. What if they hate it? What if they love it? What if one person hates it and the other loves it? 

(This is where I remind myself to breathe, but I never listen.)

Best case scenario: my CPs will have some small scale fixes for me to make and will give me the green light to send out queries.

Worst case scenario: they'll have major concerns about big elements, like character and plot, and I'll have another major revision on my hands.

I imagine the actual feedback will fall somewhere in the middle, but either way, this revision is done. And it feels so good.

Okay, now that I've taken forever to get to the point of this post...I best get onto it.

Refilling the Creative Well

After working practically non-stop on revisions for 4ish months (in addition to a full-time Day Job), I'd be lying if I said I wasn't feeling at least a little burnt out. During the week, I worked all day, went home, and wrote until I was too tired to think anymore. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Weekends I balanced hours of writing/line editing with errands and attempting to keep my apartment in some sort of order (when I wasn't out of town for various bridal showers, etc. for the two weddings I'm attending in June). Thank goodness for my friend Jaimee, who kept me from becoming too much of a hermit. Without her, I don't know that I would have ventured past my apartment other than to get food the past few weeks. (Thanks Jaimee! I owe you a girls' night!)

Rather than dive into a new project right away, I'm giving myself permission to refill my creative well. So today, I present my list of 5 tricks to a productive creative vacation.

  1. Reconnect with People: Those friends you've been seeing less than you should? Cash in all those rain checks you doled out while you were in your writing cave and hit the town. This is good for so many reasons. You'll strengthen those bonds, induce a change of scenery, and provide opportunities to people watch (which is always great fodder for fiction).
     
  2. Read for Fun: Read for the sheer joy of reading. Absorb words. Delight in your favorite author's unique phrasing. If you want, keep a quiet eye on how the story pieces together, how characters grow and change. Reread passages that move you and try to puzzle out what makes them so special. Read within your preferred genre and stretch your wings to venture into unfamiliar territory.
     
  3. Binge Watch Television: One of my favorite uses of Netflix is the ability to binge watch multiple seasons of television shows. Not only can this be mindless fun, it can also allow you to see (almost in fast forward since you don't have to wait a week between episodes) how character arcs and plot points evolve over an extended story telling medium.
     
  4. Watch Movies: Some may disagree, but I find movies (and TV) valuable in their ability to illustrate a variety of story telling techniques in a shorter time commitment than reading a book. While neither can be a substitute for reading a ton, I think watching movies can still be both a learning experience and a great way to recharge your creative batteries. I know I'm certainly excited to go see the new X-Men movie this weekend. (Seriously, SO excited.)
     
  5. Absorb Art of All Kinds: Music has always been an important part of my life (my bachelor's degree is in music composition), and lately I've been listening to a lot more new-to-me music (thanks to Pandora...yes, yes, I know I'm ages behind the times). When I hear just the right piece, I feel it right in my chest. Like someone attaches a string to my heart and pulls it forward and up. (Okay, maybe that sounds weird, but it's how I experience music.) So listen to music, watch dance performances, look at great photograph. The next time a thunderstorm rolls through your town, turn off everything and just experience the crash of thunder and flash of light with every part of yourself. Absorb art wherever you find it.

I expect that after just a few weeks of creative vacation you'll be bursting to write again. I know I will be. Hopefully just in time to get my CP feedback and dive back into revisions. :)

You tell me. How do you recharge your creative batteries/refill your creative well? Any good books or movies I should be sure to check out during my creative vacation? Leave me a comment and let me know!

-Isabel