• Julie Luek
  • [MAKING THE LEAP] Loosening The Creativity
[MAKING THE LEAP] Loosening The Creativity
Written by
Julie Luek
March 2013
Written by
Julie Luek
March 2013

The spring sun is starting to warm my alpine home to reasonable temperatures. After a winter of elliptical workouts, I am finally able to take my workouts outdoors. Yesterday, my dog danced at my feet as I put on my shoes and mittens. He knows the routine and is anxious to be out again too. As we headed down the hill, my mind was churning on all the writing I needed to do before I left for spring break vacation. I knew my internet availability would be limited, and I had a couple of posts and articles I needed to get written and ready to go live before I left. I’d just spent the morning struggling to find any workable ideas, my head was spinning and my stomach in knots.

Blue, my Weimaraner and I, rounded the corner where the scene opens to snow-covered fields, a horizon of mountains and an old tumbled down barn that’s been there since before any of this area was developed. My heart rate increased slowly and the cool air and sun started to ease my self-created tension. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small critter scamper across the snow. I watched it and realized I was seeing a short tailed weasel—still white in its winter fur with just a black tip on its tail. I’d never seen a weasel in the wild before! I stopped running to watch the little guy as he stood up on his hind legs and sniffed the air before skittering across the snow to find covering. I returned to my jogging, totally absorbed in the moment, paying attention to my breathing, thinking about the joy of seeing wildlife, gazing at the still snow-covered mountains. 

And then a funny thing happened. It was like a dam loosened in my mind and I started thinking of all kinds of topics to write about. As my feet found a rhythm, so did my creativity.

When I am stuck for an idea, the temptation is to stare at the computer, sigh loudly and feel frustrated. Of course, all that does is make me feel more jammed and powerless to write. Many prolific writers warn the muse is a myth. The real task, they admonish, is to show up, sit down and do the work. I tend to agree, but unless you’re also feeding your self, you may find "showing up" a task of futility.

I am learning that in order to remain productive in my writing, I must make sure I am nurturing my creativity. Here are a few ways I've found to refresh my heart, mind and body:

  • Workout: Maybe it’s the release of the endorphins or the focus on my body, but for me, getting my heart rate up seems to loosen my thoughts and feelings. There are plenty of times when a jog has ended up in a flow of tears or flashes of insights.
  • Create: Several years ago I bought a mandolin. No, I didn’t play, but I’ve always been musical and thought it would be a fun instrument to learn. I’m terribly undisciplined with practicing, and you won’t find me in a bluegrass band anytime soon, but when I do make the time to play around on it, I find it engages both my right and left brain in a total focus that is refreshing and energizing.
  • Relax: I admit it. I’m all about the long, hot bath. I am not above bringing my Kindle with me (carefully, of course) and watching a guilty-pleasure show on Netflix or reading a book.
  • Reading: Speaking of reading, I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of reading books almost like an assignment—analyzing the style, a scene or characters, or reading a lot of books about writing. What a joy when I remember to also read for the sheer pleasure of getting lost in another world.
  • Friendship: It’s important to get out and nurture who I am, not just what I do. Hanging out with a girlfriend, lingering over a coffee or long lunch reminds me I am more than my writing production.
  • Nature: Probably the most refreshing time for me is to be outside, hiking in the mountains, cross-country skiing, taking a walk or paddling my kayak on the lake. Nature causes me to completely get outside myself, reminding me to be grateful and focus on a world outside the one in my own head. 

Blue is ready to run!


How about you? How do you nurture yourself and refill your creativity well?

What kick-starts your creative flow and feeds your heart? 

Let's be friends

The Women Behind She Writes

519 articles
12 articles

Featured Members (7)

123 articles
392 articles
54 articles
60 articles

Featured Groups (7)

Trending Articles

  • Elisabeth Kinsey

    I posted it on here on my blog. I am keeping yours as a reminder on ways to recharge. :)

  • Julie Luek

    Elisabeth-- sounds like I need to read your post, Elisabeth. 

    Daphne- Julia Cameron calls it "filling the well" and I think it's important for artists to take the time to refuel. 

  • Daphne Q

    Thanks for posting this, Julie... I needed a creativity boost and this might do it!

  • Elisabeth Kinsey

    I love this as it expands on my previous blog post, too about defining what "fleshing out" is -- my number seven expands to tons of ways to get back to creativity. Thanks for posting.

  • Julie Luek

    Tyra-- that's me exactly. There is a definite connection for me with exercise and loosening my thinking. Ahhh love it.

  • Tyra Brumfield

    Running helps my creativity as well. I deal with many aches and pains and I fear the day when I can no longer hear the rhythm of my breathing and the pounding of my feet as they hit the pavement or treadmill, depending. I came up with a title to my book after a good run. Reading books about writing helps spark new ideas as does nature walks. 

  • Julie Luek

    Froxy-- Ok that's funny-- I too get all kinds of thoughts when I'm in the shower. I've often associated it with being focused in the moment. Both working out and showering focus my mind on my body and current sensations-- taking me out of the dwelling and into the present, if that makes any sense. And thank you for the comment on my Blue. We adopted him from a rescue place when he was 5 and he's all kinds of quirky wonderful. 

  • Froxy Frocz

    "As my feet found a rhythm, so did my creativity."    As a singer/songwriter, I've long noticed how just getting out for a walk and allowing my body to synch to any rhythmic movement will open the door to more and more inner rhythmic movements automatically seduce the inner muse out of her shell.  No muss. No fuss.  Often just the rhythm of the beating water against my body in a hot shower will do the same.  Love the efficiency of releasing the dirt and unleashing the muse at the same time! (ps, julie, Blue is beautiful!)

  • Julie Luek

    Hi Karyne, I like the idea of crime reality shows. I sometimes wonder about some of the news stories I read-- they offer some great, crazy ideas. And like you, I love my dog-dog- a good snuggle can bring me in the moment, which helps untwist my mind a little. :)

  • Julie Luek

    Yehudit-- I'm intrigued by the number of people who have associated watching a moving with igniting their imagination. Good idea. I'm not a movie buff so this idea has never occurred to me. The first sentence idea is also a great suggestion for a prompt. 

  • Karyne Corum

    I also forget to read for enjoyment and when I do, it's absolute bliss. So that's definitely one of my ways. I watch reality police/crime shows because there's nothing like seeing how someone commits murder AND is stupid enough to keep the receipt from Wal-Mart for the duck tape, garbage bags and shovel to get my creative juices flowing. :-)

    Plus, my dog and cats, animals are a great resource to de-stress and give me some comfort to get past any mental roadblocks.

  • Yehudit Reishtein

    Several things loosen my creativity:

    1. long walk, preferably in natural setting, although people watching while walking on a street can do it too

    2. doing something semi-mindless, like ironing or weeding the garden--the top part of the brain is occupied with the task, but the creative part is free to wander off on its own

    3. reading (0r watching a movie) and then letting the story take off. What if Han Solo had been a woman? If Anna had refused to dance with Vronsky, what would have happened next? How would I have reacted when (choose a key moment in the book you just finished)?

    4. It's also fun to take the first sentence of a book and then try it out as the first sentence of several different genres. "Call me Ishmael" as the first sentence of a science fiction story, a romance novel, a spy story, a historical novel, a psychological thriller, ...

  • Julie Luek

    Alissa, I just read your newsletter and saw that we were definitely on the same page with this thought. I love your newsletter and website by the way-- always insightful. I hope others stop by and give it a read. 

  • Alissa Johnson

    Julie, I just wrote a post about this on my website--that sometimes we need to walk away from our writing for its sake and ours. Lovely post!

  • Julie Luek

    Monica, you're the second one to bring up watching a movie related to your writing-- that's a great idea. And love the idea of painting. I come from an artistic family but completely missed the gene and envy this form of expression.

  • I'm finding that watching movies and reading about subject matter that coincides with the arc of my writing project helps tremendously; it sort of keeps my mind "on track"; physical exercise is a boost for the brain and body no matter what you're endeavoring to accomplish (and must be made a priority). For the past several months, I feel the urge to paint, paint, paint, and am finally heeding the call. All of the visual arts inform my writing.

  • Julie Luek

    Hi S.Ramos, I'm a big believer in the power of a good workout. I truly don't know what it is about the process, but it clears my head immensely. And yes, creative outlets I think give the right brain a chance to engage in the process too. Even though writing is creative, it engages the language part of our brain-- the left side!

  • S. Ramos O\'Briant

    Renee, thank you for this. Workouts in the morning help me focus and put me in a good mood.  While writing The Sandoval Sisters, I frequently switched gears and worked on short stories.  The change in perspective would always give me good ideas on where to take the novel next.  Similarly, other creative outlets help with my writing: gardening, sculpture, photography.

  • Julie Luek

    Renee, great ideas. I think taking a break outside of words is a good idea and helps us engage different senses and different parts of our brains. I'm also a huge daydreamer, but have yet to decide if that's productive for me or not!

  • Renee M. Payne

    I like to read books and watch movies that share a theme with what I'm writing and take a time out to work on a totally different project like a collage. I also like to daydream.

  • Julie Luek

    Hi Melissa- I think everyone has their own ways of renewing creativity. I bet music works for a lot of people. I've read articles where people talk about having to play music while they write. 

    Hi Jennifer-- Great ideas. I tried yoga-- for some reason just wasn't my thing, but I know it works for a lot of people and is very renewing. I love the idea of hippotherapy too-- awesome. 

  • M. Kinnel

    Julie, I'm not a real outdoorsy person but I do envy your backdrops. Every time I watch a movie or TV show that has the same setting similar to where you live, I'm in awe. 

    As far as kick-starting my creativity, I really like getting lost in a good book. Or sometimes I put on some soothing music, stick the earphones in, close my eyes and clear my mind of the clutter.