just for fun · Life and Stuff

Filling Your Creative Well A Little at a Time

Creativity is a bit of a mystery to me.

Sometimes, I feel overflowing with creative energy. I’m driven to make something, anything. My writing calls to me, sweetly, begging me to sit down and pour out the words.

Other times, I feel like I’m looking into a dark, dry well. I send my bucket down, hoping for a few drops of creativity to soothe my parched spirit, but there’s nothing to be had.

What drains the well, and what fills it back up again?

I don’t have the whole answer for you, but it’s at least partly a matter of the balance between play and focus. Sometimes, when we’re working on a big creative task, we get so focused on getting it done, we forget to enjoy ourselves, to play around with it. That lack of play drains our spirit, leaving us feeling barren. On the other hand, when we allow ourselves room to play, even if it’s not with the project at hand, we refill that well.

Lately, I’ve been struggling to find the enthusiasm I need to keep going on several goals, especially my novel-in-progress. We’ve had a couple of big upsets in the family. I think that’s thrown me off. But more than that, I think I’ve been too intent on just getting my goals done. I’ve forgotten why I set the goals in the first place and the joy with which I first embraced them. That lack of just plain fun has sapped my creativity.

My friend and fellow blogger, Jay Squires, reminded me that a little bit of creativity just for the heck of it can go a long way toward refilling the well. He issued a 100 Word Story challenge, and I decided to take a short break from my WIP to have a little fun a hundred words worth of fun, to be exact).

Flash fiction, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the genre, is a story crafted to fit a very small, specific word count, often between 50 and 750 words. Hemingway is said to have written a six word story that’s frequently held up as a classic example. Within the narrow confines of a tiny word count, there’s no room for extraneous words and details. Flash fiction pieces are tight, sharp and generally call on the reader to engage his/her imagination to fill in the untold bits and make the story come to life.

Without further ado, here’s my answer to Jay’s challenge:

Don’t Believe in Monsters

shadow in steam

Bump.

Down the hall.

Gloria pulled the blankets up.

Bump.

Closer now.

She wished for Alligator Frank. Monsters were afraid of alligators, even soft, green stuffed ones. But Frank was in the wash.

Bump.

Closer.

“Mommy? Daddy?”

Monsters hid from mommies and daddies because they didn’t believe. Monsters couldn’t get you if you didn’t, Mommy said.

Bump.

Outside her door.

I don’t believe.

The doorknob turned. Door creaked open.

IDontbelieveidontbelieveidontbelieveidontbelieve–

Bump.

Across the floor. By the bed.

–idontbelieveidont–

Something cold, slimy around her ankle.

–believeinmonstersidont–

But she did. She believed.

And that was all the monsters needed.

***

Even if your creative well feels pretty darn full, I encourage you to fill it more with a little playfulness. Perhaps give Jay’s challenge a try. If you do, you’re welcome to link here as well as Jay’s post and/or leave your offering in the comments section.

Good luck and happy well filling.

Photo Credit
Shadow in Steam by jetsandzepplins, on Flickr | CC BY 2.0

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6 thoughts on “Filling Your Creative Well A Little at a Time

  1. This is why I love doing the story a day challenge in May and September. There are prompts for each day(well, 5/week this month) and they’re meant to have fun with. And to be kept quick(I shoot for between 500-1000 for mine). Also, my side projects are more to play around with. And sometimes I just have to take a day off to read.

  2. Ahhhhh, Sonia, I feel so gratified that you accepted the gauntlet, and LOL, you crushed it! I’ll be curious to see if anyone else accepts the 100 word challenge. Thank you for your mention of my post in yours, and the link to it. Good luck with you novel.

  3. One of the things I most love about writing is how we’re all using the same words to express such a wide variety of things.
    Another is how often I read something that on the surface seems very different from my own experience, but underneath, the meaning is the same.

    It’s funny, I’ve never thought of creativity like a well or spring, a resource to be replenished, though I do sometimes think of it like plants that need to be nourished by compost and tender care, but more often I find myself thinking of creativity like another being, Someone who is sometimes surly, often tired, and generally sluggish. I have to help it warm up, coax it to join the dance by reminding it that writing can be fun, once we get going.

    But I definitely agree that more often than not we have to invest, in various ways, to prepare for another creative effort. It is easy to focus on the task, on finishing it, and forget that this is supposed to be fun.
    It’s tricky, finding the balance between “work” and play.

    I’m glad you found a way to do both.

    Thanks for sharing. I was half expecting the approaching “something” to turn out to be one of the parents, with the beloved Alligator Frank in hand.

    This would certainly make for a good campfire story in October.

    1. I like the idea of creativity as a plant. The idea of it as a living thing which must be nurtured rings true. I’ve sometimes thought of it as a garden as well.

      As for the story, I was tempted to make it a happy ending too. But then I was just in the mood for it not to be. 😀

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