Refilling The Creative Well

Brian Setzer Orchestra

A lot of writers and other creatives talk about their muse. They can only create when the muse calls. The muse is where they get their ideas, it controls their process and inspiration. If this is your bag and it works, bully for you.

Personally, I have issues with relying on a muse to get my work done. Sure, there are times when the words magically flow from my brain to my fingers. Being in the zone is a wonderful feeling, but I’ll be damned if I have the luxury of waiting around for a muse. I have to follow the butt in chair, fingers on keyboard method, or I’ll never get anything done. That doesn’t mean I don’t need inspiration, it does mean I don’t wait around, I go find it myself.

Finding inspiration isn’t hard, but it can be a rabbit hole. I have to be careful that I don’t spend hours on Pinterest or surfing the web, but that’s not what this post is about. This post is about feeding that inspiration, that desire to keep going.

There’s a phrase I’ve heard tossed around, refilling the creative well. This makes sense to me, far more sense than waiting around for the muse. You can only give so much before there’s nothing left to give, this goes for everything in life, but we’re talking about creative endeavors today.

My well is drained after every project. Hell, sometimes it runs low during a project. Maybe it’s a form of writer’s block. I don’t know and I’m not going to waste time analyzing it, not when I can help myself move past it. The analogy of my creativity being a well works for me. The more creative, inspiring things I pump into it, the more I can draw on it to get me through.

Most of you know, I released Shadow Play in September and I was—still am—exhausted, but I need to move on to the next project. Actually, projects, four if you count the next installment in the series. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about these projects, I really, really want to work on them. But it doesn’t matter how excited you are about a project, if your creative well is dry, or there’s only a stagnate puddle to draw from, it’s not going to work out. I need to refill it.

You might be wondering; how do you refill this imaginary well? I can tell you what I refill it with, but your contents might differ from mine.

I read. I read to help my friends in the writing community. I read to see what’s new in the genre. I read for research, both fiction and non-fiction. And when I’m lucky, I read to escape reality. I watch TV and movies, much for the same reasons. I love to analyze how others do things and I think it helps me become a better writer.

I play with makeup and hair, think of it as a variation painting and sculpting. I’ve been coloring since before it became okay for adults to color. I sketch, draw, and paint, but not as much as I used to. I play in Photoshop, practicing my own and helping others with their cover art. I listen to music; you all know how music spurs my creativity. Nods to singers and songs are riddled throughout the series. This brings me to the most recent addition to the well.

The Breadwinner and I went to see The Brian Setzer Orchestra last night, and I’m still reeling from the excitement and energy of the show. Seriously, how often do you get to see a 19 piece orchestra? I’ve been one of those lady cat’s crying, “you’re a real gone guy,” from the moment I heard this feline Casanova crooning about doing the Stray Cat Strut.

The Brian Setzer Orchestra isn’t just a concert, it’s an experience, a sensory delight. The big band set, the Vixens—Mr. Setzer’s backup singers, who along with the band members took my breath away—the costumes, the lighting, of course the music, and the energy! So much energy. The music had me wiggling in my seat, but the intensity of that energy urged me to jump up and dance along with them. Don’t worry, I stayed in my seat, except for several standing ovations they deserved.

They performed the perfect mix of Christmas music and his extensive back catalog, making two hours fly like Santa’s reindeer or a ’57 Chevrolet. The Breadwinner snapped a few pictures—it’s hard to capture a moving target!—that I hope capture the glitz and glamour, but you really need to see BSO yourself to get the full effect.

Those of you who love Lorelei and wonder about her act at Moonlight Lake, this is one of my inspirations. The closest I’ll come—besides old movies—to the big band experience. Yes, last night went a long way to refill my creative well.

It makes me wonder what Mr. Setzer does to refill his, you can’t put all of yourself out there when you’re empty. He and the band certainly poured everything into entertaining us.

In truth, the idea of needing to refill your well goes for everyone. I don’t care if you’re a high power executive, an artist—of any kind—or a stay at home mom or dad. When you put everything into a task, how do you deal with that empty feeling? What do you do to refill your well?

On a side note, I’ll be at Prairieland Herbs on Black Friday. So if you want a relaxing afternoon of shopping small instead of malls, stop by!