When I finish a book, I feel empty, depleted; feel I have nothing left, and will never write another book. Then I set about filling up again–reading, listening to music, going back to poetry, cooking, gardening, clearing my desk, writing something for my blog, contacting friends for long conversations. Filling up. Doesn’t take long.
As a seasoned novelist, editor, and creator of https://marthaspencil.com/ (love that name!), Martha’s approach to refilling her creative well is based on a wealth of experience. I love the wide-ranging activities she engages after she’s finished a major project in order to give herself time for “filling up.” And it’s so heartening to know that the whole recharging process doesn’t take long.
Like Martha, I’ve found that taking time to refill the well of creativity is an essential, but often neglected, aspect of the writing life. A field needs to lie fallow for a time so that it can replenish the nutrients that will help nourish future seedlings and fresh, bountiful crops. In the same way, we need to give our minds and spirits time to
rest and recharge. This refilling stage offers many benefits:
It gives us time to reflect: During this quiet period, we have the freedom and distance to look back on what we’ve just finished and see how far we’ve come. Letting ourselves bask in the glow of a job well done is a gift most of us rarely give ourselves, but it is so important to acknowledge our efforts.
It lets us explore without boundaries: When we are in this nourishing stage, we are free to play and explore without an agenda or timetable. Our only real goal is to feed our creative souls with whatever appeals to us: Music, poetry, gardening, reading, cooking, visiting friends — as Martha observed, any and all of these enjoyable, expansive pastimes can help to renew and re-energize us.
It allows our ideas to percolate: When we give ourselves the time and space to decompress and dream, we are also giving ourselves the chance to let fragile wisps of ideas and intentions gather strength quietly and secretly. It’s these precious “underground” stirrings that may eventually surface, attract our attention, and ultimately bear fruit. Allowing this hidden momentum to grow and gather force — to take root and blossom — is one of our most joyful undertakings.
So if you are in a fallow, in-between time, don’t fight it — enjoy it. Embrace it! Let the gifts this period of renewal offers you help you to grow and write dangerously. Bravo, Martha — write on!