Normally I update this blog every Wednesday. I wrote a blog post for Wednesday, but it was boring and I didn’t want to post something that wasn’t up to my standards. I was short on creative energy – stuck without fresh ideas.

The creative ebb and flow hits all writers and editors; but unfortunately, sometime there is a deadline during a low creativity season and content or editorial vision needs to be squeezed out of the dry places.

My creative low last week was due to a variety of factors. On Tuesday our editorial team had generated lots of good ideas for two magazines in the next quarterly cycle. Those two meetings don’t normally happen on the same day, so it used up a lot of creative energy. In addition, I had been travelling the weekend before and was at a sleep deficit. And my exercise regime was interrupted by a pesky but minor leg injury. Creative energy takes mind, body and soul, so factors affecting any or all of those impact the ability to generate good ideas.

Unfortunately creativity isn’t something that has a good shelf-life. Even though I have a list of at least a dozen good ideas for future blog posts, going to my idea list when I was drained resulted in content that wasn’t fresh – more like freeze-dried, reconstituted content.

So how does a writer or editor rejuvenate to get a fresh edge for shaping content? Some of the answer is unique to the individual. For me, a walk in fresh air is a good way to let my brain wander and put together new ideas. And laps in the pool help me take an initial idea and organize it in a meaningful way.

Our brains are amazing tools, and sometimes we need to give them more space and time to wander, rather than pressuring them into producing. Because as they wander, we may realize new angles on old issues, or fresh connections that make sense.

One of my college professors asserted that true intellectual activity was only possible for about 4 hours a day, and the rest of the time we should garden, since the fresh air and physical nature of the work would refresh our brains. When I was 20 that seemed a bit crazy, but now it makes a lot of sense. However, most of us work in environments that require more than 4 hours a day of productivity. Building in some kind of physical and mental break that includes fresh air helps me stay energized. In addition, even though I am an introvert, time spent engaging with interesting people also sparks fresh ideas. So in the past few days I have puttered in my garden and spent time with idea people, along with regular exercise. These have refreshed my creativity, so I am ready to tackle content work for upcoming projects.

What helps you generate and sustain creative energy? How can you build enough rejuvenating activity into your regular rhythms?

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  1. Journalling is something that gives me a lot of relaxation and release. I am able to see where I’m at. I get light for cloudy patches in my life and spot trends in my life too.

    If often inspires me on ideas and thoughts on life. Prose and poetry alike brim at times. It becomes the starter to get stirred up when I’m STUCK 🙂 🙂

    Thanks for your post Carla!

    • I know most writers journal – I sort of start and stop with journals. Sometimes I just write notes to myself on index cards or sticky notes. I’m not a big fan of electronic notes or journals, although there are some nice ones available.


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