Thursday, September 18, 2008

Depleted Dirt

A Photo of Depleted Dirt

What is a photo of dirt doing on a blog about the creative process? Well, it's a special kind of dirt, one that provides an analogy. Us writers adore a good analogy.

Our grass hasn't been green all summer, despite our efforts, so my s.o. has been testing the dirt. Above is one of the tests. The result? We've got no nutrients for the grass to grow on. No wonder it doesn't grow.

So the analogy: have you been growing your creative endeavor for so long you've depleted the soil? Forcing growth while the roots wither? Do you need to feed deep down so you can have something to draw from?

And what do you do to replenish your creative soil? Here are a few of my favorite activities to get some nutrients:
1. Reading other people's works, or going to a good movie, or a photography/art exhibit gives me a fresh perspective on my own work and often leads to epiphanies.
2. If I get out into nature, even if it's only taking a walk, and paying attention to the huge, vast space around me, opens and refreshes my mind.
3. And finally, whenever I try something I've never tried before, a new restaurant, a new path, a new author or artist, it's a delicious, satisfying and invigorating meal.

What do you do to avoid depleted soil? How do you feed your dirt? When do you know it's depleted?


Swubird said...


Good question as always.

Whenever I feel the creative tank getting a little low I try to shift direction in my reading. For instance, a month ago I was on empty, so I picked up a book of Edger Allen Poe's works and slowly read through one difficult page after another. And low and behold, I got a new story idea.

Another thing I do is take long walks in the wilderness. It could be along the beach, or out in the open desert. A good nature walk seems to work for me.

Those are two things I do. Of course there are many more. It all depends on my mood at the time.

Another good post.

Happy trails.

Jim Murdoch said...

Land can be exhausted by over-cultivation and it's the same with us as writers, we write until we run out of words and quite often, because we're writers, it takes us a while to run out of them because there are so many to choose from but eventually - and often unexpectedly - we find we can't write another thing. So don't. You won't stop being a writer if you don't have a pen in your hand or, these days anyway, are hunched over a keyboard.

Writing is like a good friend but you can get sick of your bestest friend if you see them too much. So don't. Leave them alone and if necessary leave your writing alone until you miss it so much you don't feel you can go another minute without it.

All the other distractions are a good idea but a true writer will be able to write about anything. I've said this before, all inspiration is is a good idea and if you don't have a good idea then any old idea will do to get you going.

Dave King said...

I think I have mentioned this before: I try another art form, perhaps another genre, or I take an interest in something I don't usually follow too deeply, maybe some science topic.
A good post, though, it is certainly a subject that needs occasional airing.

Conda Douglas said...

Swu, I agree with you--challenging yourself with reading always gets my synapses firing--as does walking in nature.

The Muse said...

Hi Conda!

I'm with you all the way on getting out into nature. Actually, all of what you said.

I also like to learn something new. I found it really helps me come up with article ideas and putting things in perspective.

The Internet itself has been such an inspiration for me. Of course it's been a downfall too. You know how one thing leads to another. Catch 22.

Take care!

Kathy McIntosh said...

Great analogy. Terrific suggestions from your readers, also.
I like to bake. Somehow that gets other parts of my brain working.

Conda Douglas said...

Too true, Jim. But it can be hard to take a break from the writing. My fear is always that I'll get lost trying to get back to it.

As if that would happen, ever.

Conda Douglas said...

Thanks, Dave--and yes, for us creative types trying a different art often works wonders.

Conda Douglas said...

Yeah, Muse, the Internet is a vicious and generous goddess!

Conda Douglas said...

Kathy, I love to bake too, but I have to be careful to "time" my baking so I don't eat all the results myself!