This year has been all about getting books ready for publication. I’ve been busy launching A Strange Companion and gearing up to release The Smallest Thing over the summer. This has meant a lot of editing, problem-solving, and fine-tuning, and it’s fair to say that, creatively, my well hath runneth dry.
Luckily for me, I’m taking an extended trip this month. I’m spending time with family in the U.K. and going on a trip with my mum. I’m aiming to unplug as much as possible to give my creativity a chance to restore itself.
But it’s not always feasible to run away for a month, so when my creativity needs a jumpstart, here are some of my favorite ways to recharge:
Taking long walks alone
When I’m stuck with my writing, I put on my shoes and head out for a walk. I’m fortunate enough to live near the beach, so I often walk there, but walking around the city streets is just as effective for reducing stress and clearing my mind.
I often find that the pieces of a story puzzle drop into place while I’m walking. And long walks have been proven to boost creativity for up to two hours, so once I get back to the desk, the writing often flows.
Getting out into nature and staring at a far horizon
There’s something utterly hypnotic about the rustle of leaves and the twittering of birds, the gentle burble of a stream or the sound of boots crunching on a stony path. Getting out in nature is like a form of meditation, and the quiet leaves room for thoughts to be heard. Ideas that have been stuffed into the furthest corners of my brain somehow jostle loose in nature. It’s my favorite way to refill my creative well.
Wandering around a bookstore or library
I love browsing bookstores, but when it comes to recharging creativity, libraries and used bookstores offer a wealth of treasures. I wander the stacks until something catches my eye and sparks my imagination. I have a pile of used books on topics, from surviving a lightning strike to communicating with the dead, that have given me inspiration for stories.
Going to a museum or historic building
One of my favorite creativity boosters is to dig up nuggets of history and reimagine them as contemporary stories. I’ve unearthed lost stories by rummaging through the archives at the local library or wandering around a museum and imagining the stories behind some of the artifacts. Even better is visiting historic buildings, such as churches, castles, or sacred sites. You can almost feel the stories seeping from the walls. All you have to do is walk around and capture them.
Taking a train ride
I have a soft spot for train travel. It always brings to mind those great old noir movies or romantic European adventures. Maybe that’s why I also find train travel so good for creative inspiration. Perhaps it’s the rhythmic movement of the carriage or the countryside flashing by that forces thoughts and ideas into alignment.
I’ve met some fascinating people on train trips and heard lots of great stories. I once met a honeymooning couple from Singapore who were traveling California trying the wares of every fast food chain. Great fodder for a story.
Coloring or crafting
I recently hopped on the coloring book craze and was amazed how just a few minutes with a set of colored pens can spark creativity. Breaking color combination rules and trying new patterns shakes loose possibilities. Plus, as an adult, I no longer feel obligated to color within the lines.
Reading a good book
Nothing quite lights the fires like reading someone else’s brilliant words. When I read, I often find my mind plucking nuggets from the story and spinning then into new ideas. What if I placed one of my characters in this character’s world? What if I wrote a story about a character who didn’t do what the heroine of this book did?
Just switching off
Quite often, the best ideas come when I don’t go looking for them. Switching off and doing nothing but watch the world go by, with no expectations of inspiration, is often when the muse chooses to call. I always keep a notebook on hand, just in case.
So, this coming week, I plan to do many of these—walk, browse, read, spend time in nature, and a spend a good chunk of time staring off into space doing not very much at all.