Preparing for Seasons of Writing Drought

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Right now, I'm in a season of creative drought. I blame it on the sunshine (summer is really uninspiring)  And I realized the other day that one of the short stories I'm working on (that is close to being submittable) was one that I wrote several years ago. My first draft was handwritten and left in a forgotten notebook. Then a couple of years ago I found it again and typed the second draft into an email. Then a couple of months ago, I found the email that contained the typed up story, and I transferred the story from email to Google Docs and started revising.

You see, a few years ago, I had the opposite problem that I do now. Back then, I was doing nothing but first drafts (worrying about my lack of revising, honestly). Now, I've hit a creative drought and I'm not creating too many new stories. However, my effort from my creative past has begun to pay off.

A financial advisor would tell you to have a savings account in case of a rainy day. I'm here to tell you that in case your writing season turns to drought, get a creative savings account going.

Here's how:

1) Write the first drafts down.

This goes without saying of course! But if you are in a season of creative inspiration, this is the time to write the drafts down. If an idea dries up and doesn't go anywhere, start the next one.  Use this time to get the drafts on paper, even if they are terrible. I'm so glad I've kept all these unrevised, partially finished stories because these old drafts ones have turned into gems that have allowed me to keep up with my writing this year.

2) Get organized. Centralize your digital notebooks.

This is advice I wish I could say I follow all the time. Yet, it's good advice. Get yourself organized. Find a cloud drive that you love the most (for me, I like Google Drive) and stick with an app to write down your ideas (for example, I love Google Keep for that). Being organized and sticking with one place to be your central digital notebook will help you later. I often read over old story scenes and knowing I have a primary spot for my stories, helps me in seasons of drought.

3) Keep a physical notebook with you. Write words, thoughts, ideas.

I usually keep a smaller notebook with me and lately, I've been looking over it and sparks of inspiration will come about because of idea scraps I wrote down in the past. I find little notebooks the best for taking with me on the go. As you go about your day, listen to conversations, look out for oddities in humanity, write down weird headlines. These weirdnesses can benefit you later on.

4) Collect songs that provoke thought/character scenes.

Some songs without fail provoke a story scene in my head. It may not go anywhere at the moment, but writing out what I see when I listen to the song does wonders for me. Make sure you save songs that spark this kind of inspiration and save them to a playlist that you can go back to when you hit your creative droughts. You'll be amazed how inspired you feel!

5) Save good prompts, even if you don't respond to them. 

One of my favorite books on writing is "The Pocket Muse" by Monica Wood. I have two different versions and honestly, if I could, I'd have ten different versions. The reason for this is that in between tidbits of writing advice, she provokes thought with a new way to write stories and includes unusual photographs throughout the book. I've read through this again lately and it's a fantastic way for me to take a new look at what I'm writing. In addition to that, if you catch a writing prompt that you like, save it. Even if you don't respond to it now, your creative drought will thank you.

I think every now and then we all hit seasons of drought with our creativity. Yet, maybe the next time you are hit with a drought, you will have a creative savings account that you can refer to so it won't be such a dry season.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Nicole--All great advice. I love the phrase "oddities in humanity." Yes, sifting through old drafts, keeping a small notebook with you, saving/writing to prompts--those are all things I do.

The summer class I'm teaching begins with a prompt every day--and a different teacher is responsible for the prompt every day. By the time June finishes, I'll have 16 bits of a first draft. Perhaps one of them will be one I'd like to continue?

Nicole Pyles said...

That's fantastic Sioux! I love prompts like that actually. Many stories I've started have been a result of a prompt.

Margo Dill said...

Nicole: I love this line! "I'm here to tell you that in case your writing season turns to drought, get a creative savings account going." All great advice. Can't wait to turn this into a social media post for us. :)

Nicole Pyles said...

Haha, thanks Margo! Looking forward to seeing it!

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