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 to...us.  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 Womenfolk.com.  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?


Joanie said...

Excellent suggestions. Sometimes it feels like there are always studies around to scare us, but ones like this truly serve as a reminder to keep our lives balanced. The daily activities you note are easy and doable--we just have to make ourselves do the follow-thru.


Reese Mobley said...

An artist's date sounds exactly what I need. I think I'll just "date" myself down to the beach somewhere.

Rox Delaney said...

Thanks, Joanie! While the activities are easily doable, it still means we have to do them. That's the hard part, and I'm living proof of that. ;)

Rox Delaney said...

Reese, there's always a nice walk along the river to take the place of that beach. Winter time trips to window shop in the mall can work, too.

It's sad that we have to search for time to relax and do something that's good for the soul. I think that says a lot about our culture in this country.

Joan Vincent said...

Rox, I love your list and you are right about the most difficult part is simply doing! It may seem odd but sometimes I can refresh my creativity by just indulging the characters in my head a bit and giving them free rein. they usually surprise me with some relevant new twists or ideas.