For the last two weeks, my four children and I have been stuck at home trying to extricate ourselves from the evil clutches of the dreaded “stomach flu.” One by one we came down with it, and its effects have been long-lasting and producing vast quantities of laundry. We are bored with television and lazing on couches. We are weary of toast.
Thankfully, at this point in my life, I don’t hold down a typical nine-to-five career, which means I don’t have to take sick leave when we’re unwell. But as a writer and editor I still have commitments to keep up with, even if there’s flexibility in terms of timing.
When life gets (literally) messy, I’m exhausted from sleepless nights and struggling to even manage the basics, I still try my best not to give in to the temptation to let everything go. It’s not about pushing through the pain and forcing myself to continue being productive; it’s about acknowledging that I feel worse if I don’t maintain at least some level of interest in my writing.
For accomplishing that, I have a few strategies I’ve used over the years. I call them foolproof because you simply can’t mess them up. There’s no right or wrong. Even if they take you absolutely nowhere, they still help you maintain your creativity—with very little effort.
Jot down keywords.
My husband always says I have more notes—both handwritten and computerized—than anyone he’s ever met. True, but I also never run out of ideas. No matter how bad things are, if you can commit to writing just a few keywords for every creative idea that pops into your head, you’ll know those brilliant ideas will be waiting for you when you feel better. Use a notepad, a note app on your handheld device, or a virtual sticky note on your computer to record keywords for short stories, poems, articles, novels, revision ideas, and so on. For example, if your idea is to write a post like this one, you might write the keywords STRATEGIES CREATIVE SLUMP. Without going into any detail about how you’ll flesh it out, you’ve at least held on to it so you can develop it later. [Read more…]