Can creativity be “used up”?
I ask this as part question, part theory, as I’ve been pushing myself relentlessly to finish a new manuscript before the RWA National Conference in July. Which means I’ve been putting in a minimum of about 5000 words a day, and on Saturday, actually got 9077 words written in one day. I haven’t posted totals like that in years! Hmm, that means last week (though I am in second draft) approximately 28,000 words (okay … give me a second here. I only just added that now, and I’m feeling a bit tired!)
Okay, so back to my question: can creativity be used up? Can I overexert my creative “muscle” to such an extent that I’ll dry up the creative well (oh my but for mixed metaphors!)
Here’s my theory.
On the one hand, I figure that while I’m a fairly fast writer, my totals are certainly not extraordinary. Other writers are much more prolific, and post higher word totals each week. And, like any other muscle (and part of why I suspect I’m getting continuously higher totals), the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes, and the more it can handle.
On the other hand (and I’m a Gemini, so I get to see the duality of glass half-full AND half-empty), I believe you can drain your creative well, as it were. If you keep on drawing material out but don’t replenish, why wouldn’t this be the case?
Which means to some extent, I think you need some attention paid to refilling your creative well simultaneously as you draw on it when you do so excessively. Just as necessary as proper hydration when working out. 🙂 Otherwise, certainly one risks creative burn-out, where you just don’t feel you have anything else to draw on, and in writing, you just can’t come up with the words.
So I was thinking: have I been “replenishing” as I’ve been pushing so hard? I’ve been trying. I’ve:
- been up in the craft room, finally making a new lining for my purse and cutting out new skirts for summer. (I left the fabric on its own for weeks beside the pattern, but evidently they lacked any natural inclination to turn themselves into clothing.)
- watched a truly terrible film and picked it apart, considering the potential for what could have been– and how I can make sure I don’t make the same mistakes in my writing.
- read a new book, surprising and outside of my usual fare. (But which has almost certainly added a new element to my current writing because of the subject matter.)
- been outside fighting the mosquitoes and weeds, giving me plenty of time to think on random things and take out my frustrations on the weeds.
- given myself permission to have fun in my work, go where the story takes me, and if I get stuck, have a shower where the ideas always whirl in the steam (I’ve so got to get one of those writable shower surfaces, like the ones intended for divers.)
So now I turn to you: what do you think? Do you think it’s possible to use up creativity? How do you “refill your creative well”? Come on, click the comment button. 😉
Thanks so much for reading, have a great week, and happy writing out there.