When I’m in a writing slump–which is far more often than I care to admit–or too submerged in reality to entertain fiction, the best thing I can do is pursue other creative endeavors. The hobby that gets me through the writing slump is painting.
Take my first painting, for instance. It’s a one-dimensional interpretation of my wisteria tree…that closely resembles a purple weeping willow.
I stank at painting when I began. I still stink at it. But my level of stinkery is improving.
I’ve learned so much from painting. Painting teaches me the importance of progression. As long as I’m actually working, putting the paint on the canvas, I can’t actually go backwards, no matter how much I feel like I am.
I’m learning new techniques and becoming a better artist each time I apply the brushstrokes. Apply that concept to writing. Each time you edit a mistake, you’re progressing in your writing, because you’ve learned what works from experience.
Next, painting teaches me patience. I can’t crank out a painting in an hour. Even when I believe the painting is finished, sometimes I’ll revisit the canvas and say, “Oh. That tree needs more highlights,” or, “Why did I put that shadow there?”
Speaking of distance, painting teaches me about perception, most importantly, depth, and viewing the work from the outside in. That means I can show the observer where I’m standing now, but I can also create a point in the future–the horizon–and take the observer to it.
I get to dictate what subject to bring to the forefront, and which one to leave in the background. The same can be said of writing, in our primary and secondary characters and in our plots.
Finally, when I paint, I relax. I load my palette with brilliant color, begin mixing, and lose hours in the creating. I appreciate the relaxation so much, because once I get back to my manuscript, I can write well again. There’s no way I can write well when I’m stressed.
The slumps will come, but use your down-time wisely. Turn your hobby into an investment. The dividends will amass once you’re back in front of your manuscript.
What hobbies benefit your writing? I’d love to hear about it.