It’s been a rough year for me and I am all out of energy and creativity. I asked my friends for ideas for this blog post because I was all out. And then Jason, genius that he is, suggested talking about what to do when the well runs dry. And hey, right now I’m an expert at this thing.
Something that always helps me is doing something with my hands. Knitting, sewing, baking. It’s all satisfying on a visceral level that I can’t strictly explain. I don’t necessarily have a nesting instinct, I will always make a mess rather than clean it up. But give me something domestic that I can do with my hands that makes that mess and I’ll be happy.
Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,Macbeth, Macbeth by Shakespeare
The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast.
This should really be the first thing on the list, but none of us can help how we’re made. Sleep is usually the first thing to go for me when I get stressed. Not even necessarily by choice, either. I have a tendency to get somewhere between 6 and 7 hours of sleep and then I wake up, for whatever reason, and then I can’t sleep anymore. No matter how much I lay in bed, waiting for more sleep, it never comes. So when I stop, I start sleeping a lot more. I start napping. When I’m sick, I basically sleep 16 hours a day. Sleep is good. Sleep is your friend and mine.
Sometimes you just need to step away. Travel can be good, but it’s also expensive and unfeasible for other reasons most of the time. But museums, sports events, and all other kinds of shows exist. All that can act as well-filling material. I especially love finding little details in museums. Using art museums as a form of inspiration is so good. The worst that can happen is that you come away having spent a lot of time just looking at pretty pictures. And the best that can happen is something magical.
Read all the books! Watch all the movies! Play all the games! This is a hard thing for writers and other creatives because a lot of the time the job includes reading books with a critical eye to figure out how that other writer pulled off that thing and how did this person manage that brushstroke etc. And all that effort naturally contributes to that exhaustion I am feeling.
But sometimes it helps to read the soppiest romance books you can find for a while, revisit an old favorite book, or take a tour through the trashiest horror and action movies you can get your hands on. Just watching things blow up for a while can also be incredibly soothing. Bring on the snot aliens!
Yeah, yeah. The old thing about how you need sleep and healthy food and exercise. How dare. The saddest thing is it works. I started training for a 10K run next spring in October with the help of a personal trainer and as much as I hate to admit it, I feel better in general. I have more energy (in general) and I’m stronger and all those good things. The project I’m working in right now has a pretty good gym in the building, so I can’t even pretend like it’s going to take me too long to get to the gym. And even on bad gym days, I feel better after going than I did before.
Yeah, I am very tired and so done with this year, so no doubt I’ll be doing all the things on this list over the next couple of weeks.
What about you dear reader? What do you do to fill the well?