Sparking Your Creativity

For the past year, maybe even two, my creativity has resembled a dried up well. Writers all around me would talk about the story ideas crowding inside their heads while I silently panicked. Because my head felt like an empty cavern.

Here’s the thing.

When creative people who thrive on creativity feel fresh out of ideas, it’s not a comfortable feeling. 

Thankfully, creativity–like everything else in life–comes in seasons. We all experience winters.

Mine just happened to come once I started writing under contract.

It’s a weird thing, when your hobby turns into work.

Granted, it’s amazing, awesome, wouldn’t-trade-for-the world work. But it’s still work. I discovered that writing is no different from any other great job out there. It comes with aspects that are necessary, but not exactly thrilling. Like revising and revising and revising a manuscript until your eyes cross.

It didn’t help that in between all the in-house revisions for my contracted novels, I was working on the same uncontracted manuscript for almost two years. Which meant I hadn’t created anything new in a long, long time.

Last week, I finally finished that manuscript.

And last week, buds appeared on the creative branches in my mind. Those lovely hints of spring that have since turned into a full-out thicket of green.

How did it happen?

Part of it, I’m sure, was outside of my control. I don’t think we can ever really tame the winds of creativity.

But there are some things we can do. Like giving ourselves the freedom to brainstorm something completely off the wall.

I embraced the weird. I let my mind go. And came up with a paranormal romance dystopian-esque trilogy for young adults. Nowhere even close to my brand. I’m not sure it’s close to anybody’s brand, now that I think about it. No matter. I’m calling the new genre parastopian, or maybe dystormal. I haven’t decided yet. All I know, is this story is wicked.

Right about now, some of you might be wondering….

Why in the world would I spend my time getting excited about a story so far outside my brand? One I’ll most likely have to write on the side for what could be years?

Because it has invigorated me in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. And it’s having this amazing effect on my work. 

It brought my idea generator back to life.

Since that night I let my mind go, I came up with three more story ideas. All three fit inside my genre and all three would be super fun to write.  

So the next time you feel stuck or dried up or confused about your waning passion, let go of the rules and break through the boundaries and just have fun. It’ll get things moving and shaking again. And moving and shaking is good.

Let’s Talk: What do you do when you’re feeling creatively dry? What calls out to you more–parastopian or dystormal? 

Image Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

29 thoughts on “Sparking Your Creativity

  1. […] me talking about that paranormal, supernatural, dystopian-esque young adult story idea that kick-started my creativity a few months back? The one that is nothing at all like my usual fare? Yep, this was it. I have no […]

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  4. Squeep! I could not be more excited about this story idea. And I volunteer (read: elbow my way to the front) to be a test reader if you need one. When I’m dry, I try to do something creative with my characters–interview them, write something in first person, put them in a different setting, etc. And for what it’s worth, I vote for parastopian.

  5. […] And if you’re not writing because you feel your creative well is dry, Katie Ganshert shares how to spark your creativity. […]

  6. Great insight for fiction and nonfiction writers. Thanks, Katie. Looking forward to reading all you write.

  7. Janice Boekhoff

    The bible says God gives us grace enough for each day (not tomorrow but today). And I’ve kind of applied that philosophy to the creative area of my life. I think if I’m not getting any new ideas, then I either need to work on what I’m doing right now or I need a break. When I must have that new idea, God will provide somehow, someway-like he did for you, Katie.

    Now with that being said, I also research a lot for ideas. And I just killed off someone in my WIP because it jazzed things up – I’m right there with you Jennifer Major-nothing like death to bring out what’s in your characters!

  8. Katie Ganshert

    Really enjoying reading how everybody stirs up their creativity! It’s also nice to know I’m not alone in my dry spells!

  9. Is there a prize for the most twisted? Wait, let me re-phrase that. “A prize for the LEAST Beth Moore-y” approach?

    Cuz I think I’d win.

    1. Katie Ganshert

      You totally win! Killing people for inspiration is quite…..extreme. Even for a writer. 😉

      1. I think there’s a corrolation between fatigue and fictitious body counts. If I commented about this tomorrow, I think I’d say something completely different! I did mention it was “this past month”. Ask me again when I’m not in recovery after being in a cabin, on vacation, with the in-laws and it’s raining.

  10. Whisky. Works every time. But I can’t read what I wrote the next day….

    Just KIDDING!

    I just write myself a ‘Becky-do’ list of things that I MUST get done and suddenly I’m creative again.

    Actually, that really works for me. When I start to fill up my day with all the things that need to be done around my home, I just want to crawl back to my writing chair and hide behind one of my characters.

    I’m glad you got your mojo back – can’t wait for Willows.

    1. You need to have a writer’s retreat. at my house. I’ll supply the to-do list and cheer you on while you dust.

      1. You so funny!!!!! Hmmmm. A writer’s retreat in Canada…. What’s the temperature right now?

      2. 90F in the shade. And we do have A/C. And oh my word, our chocolate selection is awesome!

  11. Celebrating your new ideas with you, Katie! For me, it’s usually research. Since I write in historical romance, just reading old newspapers, books, etc., sparks possible plot twists, story ideas, character quirks.

    But then lately I’ve just been stuck. My WIP is outlined, the beginning is written and I’m super happy with it, but I seemed to just hit a roadblock. Finally, yesterday I closed the computer and started writing it by hand, It worked! Things flowed! Miracle of miracles!

    Sometimes it just takes some changing-things-up, I guess.

  12. Ah, so I see in your sidebar that you’ve read Veronica Roth’s dystopian novels. LOL on the genre mash up! I love it. And your blog photo resembles my neighborhood after our horrid drought this summer!

    Glad you were able to pull out of your slump. Breaking through boundaries is always inspiring to me. 🙂

  13. I do other things, I’m a crafty person, so I’ll work on something and let my mind wander. Also, when riding in the car, I’ll see something that sparks an idea.

  14. Oh man, I know all about dried-up creativity. Editing the same book for almost 3 years did the same thing for me. Thankfully other little projects have come along that made me research outside my comfort zone, and they sparked my creativity again. It’s a scary thing, wondering if we can keep coming up with new and fresh ideas. So glad you got your mojo back, Katie! 🙂

  15. Kaye Whitney

    I’m glad that it worked for you, and now you have become a more versatile writer.

  16. I was told to write a novel in the same voice I use in comments on Rachelle Gardner’s blog. So I mentally sat down and TRIED to use “comment voice” to write something. Didn’t work. At all.

    This past month, when I was feeling dry, I went back to the more significant characters in my WIP and killed them off. I know, dark much?
    Once I see the reactions of my characters at the loss of their loved ones, I can see new angles to the WIP.
    It scares me and may limit my access to small children and animals if it’s public knowledge that I kill ( LET’S REMEMBER THEY’RE FICTIONAL) people for inspiration.

    THAT, and I go to the mall and people watch.

    There may be reason to bring in professional help. Or my brain needs to go shopping.

  17. Hooray for new ideas and a fresh wave of inspiration. Double hooray for finishing a new manuscript! Sometimes writing out of our genre is just the thing to awaken the imagination. Loved this post and your descriptions.

  18. I just went through this lately as well. I was too immersed into my current WIP to see straight, I was getting to the point that my favorite hobby was now supposed to be my day job, and I really needed to figure out what I was going to be jumping into as soon as I finished these last few chapters of my WIP. I was stressing myself out. So while on vacation in the last few weeks I told myself I wasn’t allowed to write or edit my WIP… or even open my laptop. I now pretty much have my next novel idea mapped out (which I did entirely in the notes apps on my iPhone). It feels so good to have had that break! And now I’m excited to reread what I’d last written for my WIP and get those last few chapters out for my CPs! And even more excited about this third book–which will be my reward for getting this second one done. 🙂

  19. Wow. Can’t wait to read this dystormal trilogy. 🙂

  20. Panic sparks creativity sometimes …
    Well, no, it really doesn’t.
    But reading the headlines does. And browsing magazines. And going for a walk and talking with my husband … and saying “what if?” sometimes to myself and sometimes out loud …
    Can’t wait to see what you write next!

  21. Stephanie Scott

    Saving up ideas is great. I have some false start novels that may never go anywhere but at least one is great and I think about it all everyone as my next project. I like your idea about writing something totally different. Short stories are fun, too.

  22. Parastopian has a nice ring to it. 😉

    I like to watch movies when I feel fresh out of ideas. Especially huge blockbuster movies on the big screen. Those always inspire me to think differently.

  23. I think it helps that when you are in a “wet” spell, to take advantage of it!! If you get those three or four or five wonderful creative ideas, jot them down and save them in a file. Maybe… when you’re in your dry spell, you can pull one of those unused baby’s out of there and it will help light a bit of a spark!

    I feel a bit like that myself. I’m working on editing an old manuscript trying to get it ready, and it is daunting. No new book ideas have come at me in a while. But I have some “old” ideas that once I’m done with what I’m on now, I should be able to pull out and help spur on the old brain cells!

  24. I read weird articles online when I’m feeling dry. Sense I lean more toward Romantic Suspense, I’ll pick my ADA friend’s brain about cases he’s working on. Or sometimes, like last weekend when we stayed at a B&B, I monopolized the time of the owner! LOL


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