First, I’ll just admit that I’m a bit of a writing addict. I LOVE to write, even the rough draft stages and when I get an entire day to write it’s like, well, Christmas. But I also love my family and just hanging out with them, doing puzzles, making cookies, chatting, laughing…so I love that there are mandatory breaks in my life to pry me away from my stories. When I am in the middle of writing a book, up against a deadline, I’m so full of excitement it’s difficult to look up. To eat. To speak clearly.
But, because of Christmas, my brain gets a chance to breathe.
Letting your brain breathe is essential for creativity. Even when I’m in the middle of a book, taking a day or two off to look up, get out in some fresh air, have a fun, no-stress conversation with friends can stir up a new perspective in my story, a fresh thematic thread, a undiscovered scene. Letting my brain breathe also breathes new life into my novel.
So, while I won’t be writing, per say, over Christmas, I’ll still be working….and here’s how.
5 effective ways to breathe new life into your creativity while you let your brain cool off.
1. Get outside. Take a walk, run, go play on a playground…just breathe in the fresh air, the sunshine, listen to the wind, smell the snow/leaves/grass. Somehow being away from the television, the football game (but TiVo it, because, well…it’s football!), the chatter, even the smells of the kitchen will allow you hear your thoughts. And it’s these thoughts that will allow your creativity to stir to life.
2. Listen. Here’s the truth: I get in trouble when I open my mouth. So, I force myself to listen. And not just to the happenings in the family, but the stories of the past, and particularly the details of life in the days of our elders. Listen to the rich tales of the past and let it seed ideas for your novels (especially if you are a historical writer). Take a few notes, ask a few questions and you’ll be surprised and delighted with the things you learn and the seeds of creativity planted.
3. Read a book. Preferably a novel. I suggest reading outside your genre because it will force you to relax and simply let a great novel nurture your creative side. Turn off your internal editor and simply enjoy the characters, setting, plot points, even theme. Even though you are not spending time analyzing it, the elements will sit into your brain like fertilizer, and allow those new ideas to grow. Hey, it’s Christmas – give yourself the gift of reading!
4. Read your Bible, or some other spiritually nourishing book. I read Oswald Chambers as well as my Bible every day and the daily nourishment of spiritual truth helps me sort out the focus of my daily tasks and even my novels. But when I have a stretch of time like Christmas break, I take extra time to read something that digs deeper – a longer Bible passage, maybe study the Greek of a verse, or perhaps I’ll read a commentary on a passage. (On my lineup for this year: Jesus is better than you imagined. I’m already three chapters in and love it.) It’s like getting a deep tissue massage of my soul, working out the poisons of life and letting the truth flow. In our busy worlds, if we don’t take time to feed our spirit, we will end up thirsty, and looking to quench it in quick, even unhealthy ways. Feed your soul now, while you have a moment.
5. Go to church. I’ve had the unique opportunity the past few weeks to attend churches different from my home church. I love the freshness of a new worship situation – even a different denomination. Over Thanksgiving, I attended a Lutheran church with my parents and soaked in the reverence the liturgy brings to my worship. A few weeks before, I attended a fresh young church in the inner city with my daughter, and joined the exuberant praise of the college-age students. Their buoyant joy filled my heart with a new enthusiasm for praise. Both pastors then offered sermons that gave me story ideas and answers for scenes I was struggling with. I was able to go home, take notes on what I’d heard, and apply them to my story. All that “breathing time” finally bore fruit.
I don’t know what your Christmas season includes, but give your brain time to breathe, and you’ll find that you’ll return in the new year ready to tackle those NaNoWriMo edits!