I’ve just come back from a week’s break in the Lake District, and now I’m raring to go (which is good, because I’ve lots to do). But it reminded me of a comment I heard in a podcast by author Joanna Penn, who spoke about Creative Equilibrium.
The idea behind it is a simple one: balance.
As writers we need to be creative. It’s only by being creative that we can write. But if we wrote … and wrote … and wrote … and wrote, eventually we would use up all the creativity in our well. Once our well is dry then the dreaded block arrives. We need to refill that well, and that means going off and doing something that isn’t writing.
Of course, going off and doing something that isn’t writing can be fun - some might say much more fun that writing. And so if that’s all you do … go off and do fun things, then you won’t have time for being creative. The swing, or seesaw, has swung too far the other way.
To be most productive, it’s therefore a good idea to go off and do something that isn’t connected with writing, for a short while, to restore your creative well. Once your creativity has been restored, then you need to sit down and draw upon it: write. But never write so much that that you drain your creative well. Draw as much as you can from it, without causing it to run dry, before going off and doing something completely different that helps to restore those creativity levels.
Keep your creative well topped up regularly, and you’ll have plenty of creativity to draw upon and write. Write a bit. Do something else. Write a bit. Do something else. Continue in this pattern and your creativity will be equilibrium: nicely balanced.
This balance can work on several different levels. If you’ve spent three hours working on a project, then reward yourself by taking a break. Don’t think of it as stopping writing, but as rebalancing your creative equilibrium. Give yourself an hour off to do something different. Go for a walk. Go shopping. Go to the cinema.
Likewise, if you’ve been writing all week, then take the weekend off. Go and visit friends. Visit a new place - be a tourist. Soak up some new atmosphere.
Or if you've been working on a project for several months, give yourself a week off. Go away. Recharge those batteries, by restoring your creativity.
For some people, research can be a great creativity restorer. We need to find out information from which to gain inspiration. However, there are many writers who spend too long on it, and it simply eats into their writing time. It stops them from writing. They might think that research is writing, but it isn’t. It’s writing-related, but it isn’t writing. Instead, think of research as part of the creative equilibrium - it helps to redress the balance, but only if you stop it at some point and start writing.
So the next time you feel stuck, blocked, or unable to write something, consider your creative equilibrium. Perhaps you’ve been writing too much recently, and you need to do something different. Go off and explore. Find something new to write about. Refill your well of creativity. Bring it back into equilibrium.