You Are Not Alone

Tomorrow is WARA's Mini-Retreat Part 2.  In other words, this is our second 1-day retreat of the year.  I'm really looking forward to it.  It's a great way to refill the well, kick-start a new project, find answers to perplexing plot or character problems, and, in general, have a good time with friends.

In our quest to blog about well refilling this month, we've focused mainly on things we do on our own and by ourselves.  Doing this really is important.  It's also something we shouldn't be doing at our desk or our laptop.  It really is based on getting away and putting some space between writing and self.  We need to take care of us.  When we do that, our writing will often take care of itself.

In addition to our private well-filling and self-nurturing, we need to remember that having friends is just as important.  Even stay-at-home-moms are encouraged to join groups such as Moms Day Out.  Being a hermit, whether chosen or by default, isn't healthy for the soul. We need other people to bring us out of ourselves, to see the world from the perspective of someone else, to expand mentally, emotionally, and creatively.

Groups are fun, especially groups that share an interest.  For a writer, a group can be the one thing that keeps her from giving up, dropping out, or being inert. Just listening to a group of writers---especially female writers!---can lift another write to the point of wanting and sometimes needing to write.  For a women, a group provides friendship, support, and fun.  Last month, four of us (three WARA members and a former member) met at a local movie theater to see Hope Springs.  It provided a wonderful way to get away from our usual venue, do a quick catch-up on what's going on in each other's lives, and enjoy not only the movie, but the company of friends.

If you're finding that refilling the well isn't going as you'd hoped it would, maybe it's time to pull in some help. Gather some friends together for a few hours and have fun.  When it's over, you might look down into that well and discover that it's brimming, once again.  One warning.  Don't make this a time to complain or grumble over the hurdles you're encountering in life.  Make this a time to look for the things that make you smile.  And then do it. ☺
Happiness adds and multiplies, as we divide it with others. -- A. Nielsen

Dousing myself with that well water from a surprising source (Melissa Robbins)

I have enjoyed reading fellow WARA members’ takes on this month’s timely topic.  I have to admit that some of my best ideas hit me while I’m in the shower.  Sitting on the ledge and dressed in his full RAF uniform, Connor pitched his story idea while I showered.  He probably relished the fact that I was naked, but he kept his remarks to himself. 

However, for the first two weeks of September, the showers failed me.  I struggled with my stories and word count (only 1000 words and that’s bad for me.)  Some experts say that your characters know their stories better than you and you should let them lead the way.  If I left Connor to his own devices, his story would make erotic romance read like a children’s book.  Quick!  Someone douse him with that well water.  On the FAR end of the spectrum is sweet and shy Carrick, my YA hero.  I know where I want him to go, but the settings stop me writing his story.  He isn't as loud as Connor either.  My poor Wren is stuck in the middle, wanting desperately for me to send out queries.  Just read my post on that subject!  Shiver. 

During Labor Day weekend, a friend and I experienced the insaneness of Dragon Con.  I hoped the time away from writing would refresh my well and I would come back ready to write.  See word count above.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  Two weekends ago, I did not get up at 5 am during our first cold snap to write and chose to stay in my bed and snuggle with my warm husband. 

Soon after that, that same friend found a group wanting to do Steampunk costumes for next year’s DCon.  The idea sparked my creativity.  I love Steampunk and many of those costumes that have vintage military aspects.  I could incorporate many of the items from Connor and my stories since, of course, I would be a Steampunk pilot.  After sketching the costume all day, I woke up the next morning at 5 am and FINALLY figured out my Connor chapter I’ve been struggling with.  I moved on and wrote an 'almost kiss' scene, 700 words the first day, 600 words the next, and 400 after that. I finished that chapter yesterday.

So when you least expect it, that refreshing well may just appear out of nowhere and douse you with water.  Be ready.

Need Help Refilling Your Creative Well? (Penny Rader)

Since we’re discussing our creative writing wells this month, I thought I’d poke around the Internet and see what sort of advice I could find. Below are snippets of a few articles I found.  I hope you’ll read the authors’ entire articles.

5 Ways to Boost Your Creativity --  And Generate More and Better Article Ideas (Linda Formichelli)

Read magazines -- but not the ones you usually read.
Get literary.
Go away.
Get outside.
Find another way,

The Artist’s Date: Take Time To Refill Your Creative Well (Joanna Penn)

This idea comes from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” which is a fantastic book. It is basically some time alone absorbing and refilling your creative well. It can be something entirely different, like a pottery class or a show, or could just be a walk or a new gallery exhibition. Anything that gives your brain some new stimulation and takes you away from your work in progress and your ‘normal’ life. It should be alone so you have time to reflect and can be an hour, a day or longer. (I am hankering after a writer’s retreat one of these days!)

How to Recover & Recharge from Creative Burnout (Alexia Petrakos)

Dump it all out.
Escape for a while. Leave your studio as it is, messes & all.
Read a book. Make sure it’s something you enjoy, and not a self-help book.
Take a walk outside.

Don’t take too long recharging. Sometimes too much rest can lead to laziness.

How to Refill Your Creative Well (Cindy Barrilleaux)

For a couple of days or more, change your writing routine.  Instead of working on your manuscript, experiment with a variety of writing exercises. Do free writes, a la Natalie Goldberg, guided exercises, play around with poetry.  The main thing is to let loose, drop your inner editor, and write freely, unconcerned with results. After all, they’re only writing exercises.

Recharging the Creative Well (Linda Andrews)

Look at art.
Stare at the stars.
Watch HGTV.
Watch a movie, documentary, or TV show.
Learn something new.

Refill & Recharge (Dani Wade)

Artist Date
Reward Day
Go to the movies
Girls Night Out
Share a movie or game night with your family or some friends once every couple of weeks
Minute Saviors – ideas that can take as little as 1 minute, or as much as 60.

Refilling the Well (Rox Delaney)

From WARA's own Roxann:

Find a quiet spot to think or just "be"
Spend time with friends, both writing and non-writing, especially ones I don't see often
Sleep or take a nap without interruption
Go outside and watch the clouds drift by
Find a place away from the street lights--away from the city--to once again enjoy the beauty of the night sky
Take a leisurely walk in the park, not for exercise or any reason other than the sheer joy of it
Go to the park and swing
Sit by the water and listen to the sounds it makes
Find a new and unusual shop and explore
Watch favorite movies for a full day

Refilling the Well (Mistina Picciano)

Read fiction.
Read about craft.
Connect with other writers.
Write anyway.

Refilling the Well (Kerry Schafer)

And so, I look for healing and refilling in the little things, in the odd moments scattered throughout the day. A picture that I love, hung where I see it every time I walk by. A hummingbird watching me hang out the laundry. A purring cat. A hug. Reading a great book. Talking to friends. Even just taking a moment to stand on my front porch barefoot, eyes closed, soaking in the energy from the world around me with every pore.

Ten Ways to Fill Your Creative Well (Catherine Castle)

Visit nature.
Take a long bubble bath.
Read a book by an author you love.
Get your favorite movie and watch it, dissecting it as you go.
Meditate on your writing,
Free write.
Brainstorm with another writer about your story.
Stuck for an idea? Read your Writer’s Market to come up with ideas.
Read a writer’s magazine.
Write an article for your blog, someone else’s blog or a newsletter


Do you have any favorite way to refill your creative well?  I'd love to hear them.

Play Time!

What do you do to refill the well?  If you don't, why not?

Writing is just like any other relationship.  If you give and give and give eventually you are going to dry up and have nothing left.  Good books will not be written when you are all dried up.  Words won't flow without a full creative well.  

Whatever we are pulling from inside us that is flowing to the page when we write has to be refilled in order to keep our writer's mind juicy and plump with all those words oozing from us and onto our pages. 

Our writing relationship is usually something very private.  No one is going to refill that well for us. One of the things we have to do to keep from drying up is give ourselves permission to play.  With deadlines and the pressures that surround a lot of writers, it's easy to feel guilty over any time we take just for ourselves.  It's important to remember when guilt rears its ugly head, if we don't take that time we will eventually dry up.  That part of us that makes our writing different from everyone else out there will turn to crusty dry desert filled with prickly cacti and rocks. 

Writers have to take time to PLAY.  Have fun, do things that bring you to life and excite you. 

Play can be many things.  Take time to watch a movie, read a book, listen to some music or maybe go on a walk and clear your mind.  Maybe play for you is really playing something.  There is nothing wrong with a little Angry Birds or Solitaire.  All work and no play do not make for a creative, inspired and productive writer.  All play and no work, however, do not make for a writer at all.  Take the time you need to refill, but don't drown in your well and forget to get back to the writing.

There is a fine line, but play time can refill us, refuel us and get our minds back in a place where our writing can come from a juicy place within again.  What have you done to play today? 

Well Done

You can take the title of this blog post in a couple of ways:

The term "Well Done" can be praise for doing a good job at just about anything, such as, "This paper you turned in was well done."

It can also be a description of how something is cooked, as in, "How would you like that steak cooked?"  "Well done."

In my case at this point in time, my "Well Done" would be a combination of the two.  "This paper is cooked to a well done burnt crisp."

What does being burnt to a crisp have to do with refilling your creative well?  Anything and everything.

Everyone has heard the term Burned Out.  It can happen to anyone at any time.  As writers, we have our own special set of pressures.  For instance, to stay on deadline, whether that deadline is an individual choice we make or the decision of a publisher, as writers we quite often forget that there is something out there in addition to the "finish line."  We sometimes become so focused that we're consumed to the point of mental (and sometimes physical) exhaustion.

As women, we've been taught to be the nurturers.  The only problem with that is that, in the hustle and bustle of keeping a home, raising a family, and often working outside the home, the nurturing stops before it ever gets to us.  Who nurtures us?  Usually that falls  Add in being an artist---a person who creates, whether with words or paint or acting or clay or fabric...---and it doesn't take long for that well of creativity, that well of LIFE, to dry up.

From CNN article "Experts ponder link between creativity, mood disorders":
There have been more than 20 studies that suggest an increased rate of bipolar and depressive illnesses in highly creative people, says Kay Redfield Jamison, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and author of the "An Unquiet Mind," a memoir of living with bipolar disorder.

I don't know about the rest of you, but that's kind of scary.  So what do we do about this?

We refill that well.  We take steps to return to sanity.  Not an easy task when it comes to hearing conversations of characters in our heads.

Refilling the well is simply taking a step back and away from the pressure we and others put on ourselves and us to create.  That step back can encompass something as big as a vacation or as small as listening to a favorite song.  Refilling the well is one of the most important things...that we ignore.

Where do we find information on refilling the well?

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron is an excellent guide.  When talking about well refilling, this is one of the first guides that comes up in articles and conversation.  This 12-week course "in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self" takes time.  It can be worth it.

An excellent article to read is Filling the Well to Renew Our Creative Spirit at  There are other articles there that are worth taking the time to read.

No time to read, but still in need of ideas?  Let's build a list of ways to Fill/Refill Our Well.  I'll start with these.  Feel free (please!) to add to it with your comments. :)

  • Listen to music - Whether one or two songs, an album, or an entire playlist, music can lift our spirits, calm our nerves, send restful vibes, or create ideas.
  • Dance - No, really.  Turn on the radio or any music that will get you on your feet and move.  It doesn't have to be for long.  A few minutes will get the blood circulating quicker, and produce endorphins.  
  • Yoga/Meditation - Yeah, really.  It's been found that 10 minutes of meditation can refresh both the mind and body.
  • Walking - Again, get the body moving.  Outside is best, if possible, because we get a dose of fresh air.  Try to make walking a habit.  It's not only good for the body, but good for the soul.
  • Watch a movie - We have a collection of over 400 movies on DVD.  I'm ashamed to count how many I haven't even opened, much less watched.  That doesn't mean I don't have my favorite feel-goods that I've watched more than twice.  This is one I need on my well-filling list!
  • Read a book - Not long ago, my reward for completing a big deadline was to read the latest book by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  Reward yourself with a book by your favorite author.  It even beats Calgon. ☺
  • Take a mini-vacation - Sometimes we just need to get away.  My best friend from high school lives in my old hometown and, like me, is now single.  In the past, I've spent a weekend with her once or twice a year, and it's always been a refreshing break, even when I know that when I get home I'll have to buckle down and get busy again.  An overnight in a hotel/motel can also be a refreshing change and a great getaway from family, too.
  • Take an Artist Date - from the aforementioned Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way: "An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist.  In its most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interlopers."  An artist date is done alone.  Suggestions include visiting a junk shop, a museum, a park, a concert, and more.  These "dates" don't have to cost money.    Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities.
  • For writing related activities to refill that well, try a WARA meeting.  Our retreats are especially great!  Or, if possible, attend a writers' conference.
There are many more ways to fill your well.  The trick is in doing them.  We're told all our lives that habits are bad.  Wrong!  Bad habits are bad.  Good habits are wonderful!  Sometimes even life-saving.  I'd like to be able to say that this next week, my refilling was well done, as in good job.  How about you?  

What will you do this week to refill your well?


Water well’s run dry for many reasons:  overuse, poor structure, careless use, obstruction, and drought are a few.  When the water well runs dry we call a professional to come and fix.  Water, after all is life.  We cannot do without it.

Some of the same problems can happen to that well of words we draw on to write our stories and tell our tales.  And words, the flow of them onto monitor or paper, onto whatever medium we use, is life for the writer.  We cannot continue to exist without that flow.  When the words start to stutter, to hesitate, to refuse to drop onto that blank page in our minds we seldom think to call a profession.  We may try to ignore the problem or more likely try to fix ourselves--write in a different place, write on another topic.  Then I hear, think, or say “write” and I sigh.  The sigh summons distractions easily latched onto and I avoid facing the problem.  But sooner or later, a I come face to face with that blank unyielding page.  But the page isn’t really blank.  Let’s look at mine.  The words aren’t listed in any sort of order.  I just wrote word associations after thinking about why my well went dry and how to refill it.  

Schedule.  There are only so many minutes in an hour, hours in a day.  At times I have scheduled almost every one of those and not with writing activities.  My fix for this one is to evaluate my priorities, and writing isn’t the only one on the list.  One of the most important items is often not on any of our priority lists and that is SELF.  A worn out, over-worked, ill-fed, poorly rested person will have difficulty writing--or more succinctly, cannot write well.

Goals:  How long would the Jews have wandered in the desert if they hadn’t been headed to the Promised Land?  Probably more than forty years.  I do not have that kind of time.  Success breeds success just as failure does the opposite.  When I’m stuck writing I start with a tiny, cannot fail goal and work my way up to larger ones.  A goal gives a target and I’m always more libel to reach it if I have one than if I don’t.

Nurture/Freedom:  These two are parts of many of the other.  For example, one of the best ways to nurture your writing is to read and read a lot.  Take time to do that, to marvel at other author’s, to let their enthusiasm renew yours.   Or give yourself the freedom to cultivate your writing by not writing.  Take some time to let go.  Any repetitive act makes one weary; a forced repetitive act leads to dead ends.  Not that there isn’t a time to push through no matter what but that is for another blog.

Stimulate/Relax:  Again this is bound with others and it’s also a two-head coin--one  where you won’t lose the toss.  Many things can stimulate but also relax.  A visit to the art gallery, a day of browse shopping, a favorite restaurant with favorite friends, travel.  “Travel?”  You read that and think, I wish or Get real.  No time, no money--go on a YouTube trip.  Browse YouTube inspirational videos--here are just three I find refreshing:

Create/Fun:  Bake a decadent cake.  Color a mural with a child.  Play hopscotch or run through a fountain.  Write a limerick, a pun, an impromptu paragraph about bats in the belfry.  Arrange flowers, quilt, sew, crochet.  Lay back, close your eyes and dream.  Think of the most carefree, non productive activity you can conjure and do it.  Just do it.

Reward:  All of the above have rewards built in by their nature.  They may or may not be directly writing related but anything that renews the spirit, refreshes the soul, and revives the will has a blessed way of planting seeds of growth.  A word, a phrase, a sentence.  Bit by bit, filling the well, filling the page.

For a wacky fix to refilling your will visit  Recharge your Magick.  It’s for witches who need help refreshing their spells.  Writing is sort of witch/spell/magic-like.  Get a chuckle while you get inspired.