Nancy Arant Williams

HomeBooks Minibooks


As a writer, you may wonder where your next great idea will come from. Or you may come up dry, while working to keep the middle of your book from falling apart before its dynamite ending.

As writers, we’re a bit like computers, whose outgo corresponds to input. After writing for a long time, we may find that our work lacks that sparkle we want. If that’s the case, it helps to do something creative, simply to get the juices flowing again.

Sometimes that means setting aside my current work in progress, turning my attention to writing an article, and sometimes, taking time to read my favorite authors.

Because one of those authors has a clever way of using words, I jot down in long hand some of her most clever phrases simply to recapture the muse. Writing in longhand (even though I hate it), also has a way of jogging my brain toward creativity. When I’m having a dry day, I pull out my list of ‘her’ clever phrases and read them out loud, rolling her words over my tongue.

Anything that breaks us out of the box is sure to help our creativity.

One way I jog my creativity is to make up a simple sentence, like this one: “She put her socks on because her feet were cold.”

I try to vary it in ten ways, to make it live and sing. Perhaps like this: “Because her toes felt like dinky ice cubes in the November chill, she dug in her drawer for the thick wool socks her mom had knitted years earlier. “ Or like this: “Even after living up north for several years, she couldn’t help feeling cold, putting on wooly socks and sweats when locals were only beginning to don sweaters.” You get the idea.

Another way to feed your creativity is to read beautiful words, such as in Psalms. The psalmist can’t help but inspire me as I read his words out loud early in the quiet of a morning. Somehow, there is something transforming in reading aloud that can’t be had by reading silently.

Sometimes when I’m dry in spirit, it’s because my body or mind is tired, and the only remedy is rest. A recent article I read mentioned that as many as eighty percent of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep, when most need eight or more. An hour nap, or even twenty minutes, can be a boon to creativity. And remember, many story ideas come during rem (rapid eye movement) sleep, when we dream dreams.

Interestingly enough, drinking more water helps to stop fatigue. I recently read that both back pain and afternoon fatigue can be completely eliminated with a large glass of water. And having tried this, I can attest to its effectiveness.

Getting out from behind the keyboard also helps. Seeing something besides the same four walls can jog the creative side of your brain.

Take a glass of raspberry tea out on the deck, put up your feet and look at the trees. Listen to the birds. Or put on your favorite CD and lie down, and put up your feet, just listening to the music. Take a walk. Paint a picture. Lose yourself in something you love.

As simplistic as it sounds, sometimes all we need to do is set aside the pressure of production and just veg a while. Whoever said ‘stop and smell the roses’ knew what he was talking about.

Finally, and most important of all, remember the mind, as created by God, is an amazing thing. Just like it dreamed up undersea adventures and flights to the moon, its creativity will not fail. So don’t lose hope. Just give yourself time to relax, and the muse, fickle though he may be, will show up again when you least expect it, and in the most extraordinary ways.


          Copyright 2003, Nancy Arant Williams. Used by permission.