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How Do You Fill Your Creative Tank?

roman candles, fireworks

Being creative can be draining, don’t you think? The constant need to make something, write something, draw something—it depletes the essence of the human spirit, THE required ingredient for creativity.

I read an interview with Joss Whedon, the writer/director/producer/composer/actor/comic book artist. (Sheesh. Just typing all that made me tired.)

I recently saw his take on “Much Ado About Nothing,”—a movie I enthusiastically recommend, by the way—but I read the interview because of his discussion of creativity. (To read the full interview, click here.) For much of his career, he has been a prolific creator. Always inspired. Ever making. Constantly birthing new works across multiple media.

In the article, he cited the need—painful, insistent—to fill his creative tank. When he goes to a new place, he gorges on museum exhibits. Oddball performances. Out-of-the-way things he cannot see at home. The more he thinks he won’t like something, the more compelled he feels to take it in. He didn’t call it this, but it’s an Orgy of Creative Consumption.

It got me thinking about my own creative process.

I’ve written 1,325 posts on this blog since February 2010. Occasionally, I repost. When I feel like I simply cannot write anything productive—you know, those days where I just want to shriek that the whole world sucks—I ask MTM to step in for me. But mostly, I come up with the ideas. I execute them. And, I throw them up here to crash or to fly. (On top of writing two novels and several short stories off-the-blog.)

Which means an almost-constant need to fill my creative tank.

Over the past three years, I have often felt guilty about my creative neediness. I make no money writing, after all. The business-trained part of my brain (that damn left side……….I never should’ve activated it with an accounting degree), it screeches phrases like “in the red” and “revenue – expenses SHOULD NOT = (xx,xxx)” and “the best investments yield positive returns.”

I’ve been ignoring that whiney harridan a lot lately. I don’t like her very much. In fact, in the coming days, I hope to show just how much I’ve given her the finger.

For now.

Until my creative tank needs a refill.

But before I recount my recent Orgy of Creative Consumption, I’d like to hear about you, Dear Reader.

How do you refill your creative tank?

143 Comments Post a comment
  1. When it comes to refilling my creative tank, I indulge one of my passions… If my hubby can be home with our girls, I head to Balboa Park and let my lens and camera lead the way. There is tons of beauty there – architecture, culture, plants, history, music, people. Usually those visuals flow into my crafting and writing. And if my creative tank still isn’t full, off to Pinterest or blog-hopping I go for some inspiration!

    July 22, 2013
    • A wide open space can often do the trick for me as well, Connie. Especially if it is in an excellent location like Balboa. 🙂

      July 22, 2013
  2. Blog-hopping, what a great way to put it. Yes and reading, Fiction, non-fiction science fantasy and personal development (not all at once but often consecutively) My trusty camera, and like today, something which gets under my skin. (It will debut tomorrow). If all else fails, I sink into a candlelit bathroom, steamy with the scent of essential oils, soft music and simply let my mind float – amazing what floats to the surface later. 🙂

    July 22, 2013
    • A bath is never a bad thing, is it? I used to have a soaking tub, but our new place lacks one. I miss it. (The tub. Not the old house.)

      July 22, 2013
  3. I generally don’t have a problem with loosing creativity I’m generally so outside the box that it’s down the hall in another room entirely. My biggest problem comes from remembering to keep others up to speed with where my creative process goes. After all a joke is only funny if people understand it… Well, usually anyways, though sometimes it is just fun to observe the quizzical bemused but lost expressions on the faces of folks who aren’t sure what I’ve just said. However, during those rare times when my generally hyper-active muse has decided that a day at the spa is in order I generally find that watching old black and white circa 50’s TV adventure shows like The Adventures of Robin Hood or Flash Gordon for example, generally does the trick, but then again so does dark chocolate. I find the TV shows much safer though falling asleep while eating chocolate is problematic on so many levels…. 😉 One last thing I have to give a shout out to the Blogger above! ClickyChickCreates is a GREAT name! 🙂

    July 22, 2013
    • Thanks MartyW47! The name fits me : ) And so true about a joke being funny only if people get it – totally loses the moment when we have to back-up to explain it! Keep up, people!

      July 22, 2013
    • It is hard for me to remember to fully explain myself too, Marty. I’m glad I’m not the only one. 🙂 Great comment.

      July 22, 2013
  4. It’s so funny that you posted this. Normally my posts are just my thoughts and feelings, but I do like to think I am a bit creative. I am the marketing department at work! I usually run and do my brainstorming then, but I can’t do long distances now because of an injury. Even running a simple mile, I am too focused on the pain to think. I feel my creativity is waning lately and I need to be rejuvenated. I am looking forward to reading other’s responses.

    July 22, 2013
    • Regardless of what anyone says, I firmly believe creativity waxes and wanes. It may not swing as much for some people as for others, but I know when I’m on, and I know when I’m not. Given what you’ve been through recently, the stress can zap creativity. I don’t feel as creative when I’m stressed – unless I can write about the stress, and I really try not to use my blog for venting. Much.

      July 22, 2013
  5. I wanted to say 30 years of chronic depression, but that would be wrong, and Ive been feeling much better lately.
    mmm, I guess is what you do with what you create, if it leads you to live wonderful stories and do things you would never normally do, it feels awesome and you want to go on forever.
    There are some basic things to me, first its structure, like what I tell people about their computer environment, if you have everything set properly the structure will help you work, otherwise youll be stopped by a thousand technical problems.
    I have found that my lovely autism have really helped me to work, cause I get to just not care about the constant annoying things “lefty” has to say, lefty is like a living hell and I want to smash its horrible face. I think the best way to do that is writing a great story, the next time lefty tries to go back, you remind it the story and then its gone, or whatever happened to it.
    The most difficult times for me is when Im repairing a structure, personal emotions or things I didnt do before, cause you cant continue working until you fix it, right now Im going through one but at the moment Im finishing something very fun for me.

    I could go on but dont wanna invade 😛
    Its always nice to come here everyday.
    Photo?

    July 22, 2013
    • The picture is of friends blasting Roman candles over a grave on July 4. The deceased loved the Fourth of July. I thought the lights looked like ideas.

      July 22, 2013
  6. I like just going out and observing, sucking it all in. If I go to an art gallery, I feel super creative after in a way I can’t explain. It just is. If I go to nature, I feel cleansed and refreshed and zinging. I also love to ‘overhear’ conversation when I get the chance and even going to a really nice shop with fabrics to touch, colour to wake me my insides and knick-knacks to pick up and can be orgy-like. I love the idea of exploring things you think you won’t like though. I’m going to try it. Thanks Andra!

    July 22, 2013
    • I’ve had some of my most powerful creative experiences from things I didn’t like, Mireille. Please let me know how it works for you.

      July 22, 2013
  7. I’ve found that when I get the chance to slow down and there is nothing to do…literally nothing to do (very, very rare), and I have the chance to just sit down and not think about owing anything to anyone, I am most happy to fill that gap by doing something creative. Once I’ve done that- normally some gift using mixed media paper crafting, I feel content. You’d think I’d want to just lay around and relax, but I relish the idea of making something to give to someone that means something to me. 🙂 I think it’s important to embrace that- if anything, for the feeling it gives when you are done…

    July 22, 2013
    • Tricia, moving my hands relaxes me, too. I’m not very good at making things like you are, but I see how doing something crafty could be very calming.

      July 22, 2013
  8. I like to run, and listen to podcasts; it seems like my mind opens up a lot more when I’m doing that, and I start coming up with ideas and questions to ask and answer. Then I come home and list it all.

    July 22, 2013
    • I wish I liked to run. Alas, I never have. When I can go for a walk and let my mind wander, I have some pretty amazing ideas, but I must rush home and write them down. I don’t allow devices on my walks. 🙂

      July 22, 2013
  9. Fredrik Kayser #

    I try to do other things, explore the forests, spend time with friends, mini-adventures like the one I took to the ruins of an old monastery. Oh, and pictures, take lots of pictures. I fill myself with impressions and leave them be for processing at a later time. If no words come out I put the pen down and try again after having gone out.

    July 22, 2013
    • Doing other things seems to be a big part of creativity. The more I freak out about it, the less I create.

      July 22, 2013
  10. Some great ideas here. As others have mentioned, I like to walk, and I like to go out with my camera some place new. I also try to read a “creativity” book such as Julia Cameron’s books. Listening to music also helps.
    I have a “leftie” that won’t shut up too…I edit from that side of the brain (rules, rules, rules), which makes letting go when writing sometimes a challenge.
    I like that you mentioned Joss Whedon…loved Buffy, when it was on and some of his other series…quite creative!

    July 22, 2013
    • I’ll look for one of the creativity books you mention. Sounds interesting.

      July 22, 2013
  11. I revisit media that I already know by heart. When I feel creatively drained I find comfort in watching certain movies, like “Con-Air” or “The Rock” that I have seen so many times that I can recite the dialog along with the actors. Or I will reread books like old Heinlein that I have practically memorized. It sort of gives the thinking part of my brain a rest, since I already know exactly what is going to happen I don’t have to do anything more than just expereince the pretty pictures.

    July 22, 2013
    • I wonder if that is a comfort reflex from childhood. I used to love to read and watch the same things over and over and over. I think a lot of kids do. It was always very comforting for me.

      July 22, 2013
      • That makes sense. Other people have comfort food, I have comfort books.

        July 22, 2013
  12. Since I am totally non-creative, I don’t worry about it a bit and just go about my merry way. If something creative sneaks in on occasion, it is treated as a lovely surprise instead of a long lost friend.

    July 22, 2013
    • I disagree that you’re non-creative. You find very creative ways to motivate people.

      July 22, 2013
  13. omtatjuan #

    I constantly view others blogs and watch what they are into. No I don’t steal their ideas but I do look at their writing style.

    July 22, 2013
    • I’ve lost count of how many blogs I read, but it is a great way to experience creativity.

      July 22, 2013
  14. Wow….you have written so many blog posts! I’ve only been writing for two months, but it’s amazing what little thoughts trigger an idea which permeates into something uniquely different! Keep it going!!

    July 22, 2013
    • One of the reasons I write every day is to force myself to create when I don’t feel like it. The blog is a public forum that holds me accountable. 🙂

      July 22, 2013
  15. 1) In writing, the positive returns are not necessarily monetary. You know this.
    2) In blogging in particular, the returns are in community building unless you’re Dooce.com or somebody like that. And she benefits from that, too.
    3) I remember when grad school and bipolar sucked my creative well fucking dry. I had nothing for four goddamned years, and I was so afraid I wasn’t a writer. When I started taking Zoloft, I felt the stopper at the bottom of the tub schloop back into place, and the ideas started filtering back in. I get ideas from dreams, from the outside world, from memories, from my kids, from twisting highly personal events into drawn out “what-if” scenarios. Anything can provoke me to write. I once wrote to Sesame Street because I was pissed off about them trying to make Cookie Monster more healthy. I started off “The Cookie Monster is dead. You murdered him.”

    July 22, 2013
    • I wish I could say that I’ve always written like you have. I guess I have, in a way. My teachers always encouraged me to write, but I had so many creative outlets……I don’t know how I didn’t float off into space. As I have let some of those others go, the writing has taken the fore.

      I’m glad you worked through that experience and found your voice again. The world would’ve been less colorful without it.

      July 22, 2013
  16. Well, reading, reading, reading for a start. But also, as Mirielle Parker said, just observing: people, nature, architecture, art. Listening to great music. And moving. Walking in the woods or paddling on the lake are great moving meditations for me, and the rhythm lets my mind roam freely. I don’t know if these things fill my tank so much as they stir up the contents already there so that some good thing floats to the top. Unusual amounts of stress, however, depress the process for me.

    July 22, 2013
    • Stress is a big problem for me, too. (I say that, and then I look at how much I’ve produced while very stressed for part of it, and maybe that isn’t true……….but it feels true.)

      July 22, 2013
  17. Lance #

    To quote Bob Dylan “I just doing it, man. I just keep doing it.”

    To quote Morrissey (with Johnny Marr playing that brilliant riff behind him) “The more you ignore me the closer i get you’re wasting your time the more you ignore me the closer i get you’re wasting your time”

    I just write and I only stop when my family needs my time and attention. Then I write more when they’re done with me.

    I repeat themes from time to time – middle-age angst, mental illness ups and downs and the love of music but I write to connect.

    Since I didn’t start my current blog until May 2010, I think my tank hasn’t needed to be refilled, yet. I pray that continues.

    Why I enjoy you and your writing is you do it every day and your reliability combined with talent inspires me, too.

    July 22, 2013
    • I’ve always loved how you mix your love of music with your writing, Lance. You’ve inspired several of my series.

      July 22, 2013
  18. I draw a lot from my experiences growing up and maturing and growing older. I also am a blog hopper. I am inspired more by people than places or things. I guess because I am a Nurse.

    July 22, 2013
    • It’s funny how the past works its way through the cracks, even when we don’t mean for it to.

      July 22, 2013
  19. Much ado about nothing is Soul food. I mean, a Shakespearean Denzel? Yes!

    I have always had a perverse desire to win a shopping spree. By falling in love, I sort of have. I can produce a love poem with a blink and a thought. Any other sort of poem though… I must s.t.r.i.v.e.

    Pfff whatever, right?
    hey Nonny nonny

    July 22, 2013
    • Poetry scares me to death, Jim. I’ve told you that before. I’m glad you’re in love. It reads in your poetry.

      July 22, 2013
  20. Just as inactivity breeds inactivity; creativity and passion breed creativity and passion. Just surrounding yourself with other creative and passionate people does wonders!

    July 22, 2013
    • That’s one of the best things about the Great Blogosphere. 🙂

      July 22, 2013
  21. TIA #

    By just experiencing life…oh and wine… Wine always helps me refuel:)

    July 22, 2013
  22. tarakianwarrior #

    I know I’ve said this before, and I totally believe it, I do not seem to have a creative bone in my body. Yes, I color my hair, however, that’s someone else’s creativity….I am but a vessel of their creativity – which I truly enjoy. However, I do not have that creative bone…so glad that my children have it. 🙂 I enjoy your creativity and I’m soaking it all up like a sponge. 🙂

    July 22, 2013
    • You and Lou. What are we going to do with you?

      Your glasses are pretty creative. And I always love browsing through your hiking pictures.

      July 22, 2013
  23. I take my trusty camera and go outside, for a walk, to a garden, any garden, and just start clicking and walking and listening, or I pick up a book, find a museum . . . and, sometime, I just take a break and recharge my batteries, Andra.

    I sometimes have that same guilt you speak of, go into a bit of self flagellation, whipping myself into a frenzy; then, I get over it, more determined than ever. You are such a creative writer. I enjoy your perspectives, your scenes, your wit and humor. I hope you keep at this creative business for a very long time.

    July 22, 2013
    • The hardest thing for me is realizing that I’ve accomplished a ton. When I compare it to where I wanted to be right now, it may not feel like it. When I look at where I was ten years ago in relation to career, it definitely doesn’t feel like it. But I like myself more now. I’m happier (even if this road comes with more ups and downs.) I know that all this is leading to something amazing. I’m just ready to get there already. 🙂

      And thank you.

      July 22, 2013
  24. Orgy? You said orgy!! 😉 Snicker…

    Anyway, what do I do? I have lunch with you and other friends. Your stories always recharge my creative batteries.

    And I go to conventions / conferences / meetings. Like the one I went to last week of model railroaders. Yes, model railroading. But there were artistic folks, folks with great historical perspective, kids with eyes full of wonder, and even the occasional weirdo. All of those people recharge my battery. Kind of like reading all your commenters here.

    July 22, 2013
    • Hanging out with friends can work wonders for me. I don’t know how my stories recharge anything, but getting to tell them for an audience is something I still enjoy. I like making faces and voices and stuff. As you know.

      July 22, 2013
      • My favorites, of course, are the stories about your mom and dad. And the bug man.

        July 22, 2013
      • WHYWHYWHY do you keep bringing up the bug man???

        July 22, 2013
      • Because it amuses me. And it … BUGS you!

        July 22, 2013
  25. I agree with Lance and Pamela . . . being creative fuels my creativity and primes the pump so ideas keep flowing. I always have more ideas to write about than time (and motivation) to write.

    July 22, 2013
    • You are very creative, Nancy. I’ve always been impressed by your output.

      July 22, 2013
  26. I am feeling exhausted right now, so you’ve asked me at a good time. The memoirs are not my only project right now, and I sometimes feel spread so thin that I’m like butter over too much bread to steal a phrase from Tolkien via a diminutive version of Ian Holm. I re-fuel my creativity by going to crowded places, but staying on the periphery and doing some people watching. Sometimes all I need is one stupid phrase, one crazy interaction, one oddly dressed person, and that’s enough to get my brain working on something new. The problem I am having right now is getting my mind to focus on the novel Jessica is trying to write, and seems to find every excuse in the world not to sit down and actually write.

    July 22, 2013
    • I hear you. I’m making every excuse not to dive into my next novel as well. I know why, but I don’t know how to stop it.

      July 22, 2013
  27. James Moffitt #

    My Creative Tank…. (looking around for it hold on….) damn…. now I understand what is wrong. Somebody STOLE my creative tank. CARNELL……. Oh, HA! Perhaps the problem is I am really not that “creative”. I love to write about things that I am passionate about. What does that mean in reference to being creative? I dont know, maybe you creative sorts can help me pin that down. LOL I guess I am with Lou on this one. If I am inspired to write, I write. If I am not, I am silent. I guess the 31 day blogger challenge has challenged me to think outside of the box and to flex my writing muscles. I failed miserably on that one several times (the fridge post LOL)

    July 22, 2013
  28. I follow a process similar to Joss. I just try to take everything I see/hear/smell/taste/feel into the context of a story, taking note of questions that come up. “Where would be an odd place to smell this?” “Who would say something like that? Would they be lying?”

    I’m pretty good and generating ideas, it’s picking and following through that’s the hard part for me. 🙂

    July 22, 2013
    • I don’t have a problem generating ideas for the blog and following through. It’s everywhere else that seems to be the problem at the moment, Phillip. Reading everyone’s responses gives me new tools for my kit, and I’m enjoying it very much.

      July 22, 2013
  29. I don’t know. It depends on . . . well everything. I haven’t blogged for a week, because my coffers are empty. I don’t know how to replenish at the moment.

    July 22, 2013
  30. Excellent question 🙂 For me, a change of venue can be a good way to get inspired. I try to thrive on routine, but lately I am wondering if I would just let go a little bit more, that inspiration would probably find me more often. Fickle Muse!

    July 22, 2013
    • Change of venue is one of my primary tools, Jeri. I simply cannot get inspired staying home very long. 🙂

      July 22, 2013
  31. Can I use Whiney Harridan as a character name?

    July 22, 2013
    • I’m trying to imagine what she looks like now………….

      July 22, 2013
  32. Andra, this is my “preachy” topic. If I were to write a book, this would be where I’d place my thought. There is a big gulf between living well and living within the expectations. I want to live well. I think Joss Whedon has it entirely right, at least in my understanding. We continue to have interest in life and cultivate creative curiosity and out it comes without adding the tension and weight of expectations. Sometimes it’s the waiting for inspiration that sparks the outward expression and I don’t think we can really live “inspired” 24/7. Oh I wish we could sit down and have a cup of coffee. I love this topic. My local friends are very, very tired of hearing me speak about breathing lighter. oxo

    July 22, 2013
    • We can have as much coffee as you want in November, Debra. I am very much looking forward to meeting you. 🙂

      July 22, 2013
  33. My topic is pretty boring, so I look for ways to incorporate pop culture into stories about my grandma. It’s a stretch sometimes, but at least I’m trying to be original.

    I’m also inspired by Lance’s blog and have been incorporating songs into my posts recently.

    And I try to keep an open mind about any new experience triggering an idea. I volunteer at a wildlife rehab center on Saturdays and I usually end up cleaning. There are quite a few raptors there and thus a lot of feathers. They’re impossible to sweep up — the motion from the broom lifts them into the air and they simply float somewhere else. Sweeping Feathers is definitely a blog post in my future. Thanks for all your inspiration!

    July 22, 2013
    • I don’t find your topic boring. It is illuminating and scary and overwhelming to think about, but never boring.

      Cleaning is an excellent way to let the mind wander, I think.

      July 22, 2013
  34. You tell that 10-key puncher that until she can be 100% positive she has the right valuation on opportunity costs and non-quantitative factors, she needs to go back to preparing her schedules. If she can, I’d be dying to see her forecasting model. 😉

    Currently, I’m stuck between humility and the humanities. There’s plenty of work to be done around the house and at the job, but there are places to explore, books to read, and people to meet. It’s a little difficult being a one-man band.

    July 22, 2013
    • Dang it. I always forget about opportunity costs………

      You and MTM need to talk about that one-man band thing. He saw much of the world as a one-man band, and lived overseas three different times before he met me. While I envy those experiences a little, I’m so glad he had them (and didn’t get swept off his feet by some exotic princess person from a European country…..)

      July 22, 2013
  35. For me it’s sleeping or reading because as soon as I’m just the tiniest bit overtired I lose enthusiasm for so much, and reading because it nearly always inspires me.

    July 22, 2013
  36. Andra, your readers have the best comments and I learn something new from them every day. I agree with you that change of venue is key – along with ignoring the whiney harridan when necessary. 🙂
    Lisa

    July 22, 2013
    • I especially enjoy writing these posts, Lisa. I love how people engage and share. Talk about filling the tank. 🙂

      July 22, 2013
  37. Andra, I’ve only blogged a fraction of the time, but I’m at the point now where my creative tank needs refilling. I used to travel a lot, which filled my creative tank. Well, times are hard these days, so I’ll have to figure out a different way to fill that tank.

    July 22, 2013
    • Some people may dispute this, but I don’t travel as much as I once did. Getting out of my usual environment is the best way for me to refill, but when I can’t, I try to change things up by doing hot yoga, walking and making dates with friends to get out of the house. Being alone too much is the worst thing for my creativity.

      July 22, 2013
  38. You know, in all the years that I’ve been keeping a blog, I’ve never stopped to ask myself this question– and it is such a good question. I have no answer for it, but have felt so rundown lately that it is obviously time for me to apply myself to finding my answer. Thanks for asking the question. Interesting.

    July 22, 2013
    • Ally, let us know what you come up with. These discussions often fire new avenues for everyone. Good luck!

      July 22, 2013
  39. Great question, Andra. I walk every day – I’m not going to call it communing with nature as it is more my remedy for being inside my head too much (sanity without the pills), but the sun, fresh air and occasional nature sounds does a lot to buffer my mind.

    Then there’s music – all the time music. Sometimes it’s quiet when I’m on sensory overload, and sometimes it’s so loud the adolescent looks at me like I’m the kid – an obnoxiously loud kid. After that, if I have the time, it’s books.

    Anything that allows me to take my brain away from the present counts towards refilling my tank. I love museums, performances, and movies, but I rarely have the time to get out and see them (my Netflix queue misses me terribly).

    July 22, 2013
    • My movie-watching has suffered horribly as well. I don’t go see them as much as I used to, and we almost never rent them or check them out from the library. After sitting in front of the computer screen for much of the day, the last thing I want to do is transfer to a different screen. 🙂

      July 22, 2013
  40. I find just taking a few days away from writing will re-energize me. Normally by the third day my Muse is chopping at the bit.

    July 22, 2013
    • That happens to me, too. I’ve changed up my writing schedule considerably in recent weeks (though everything looks the same in front of the curtain), and I feel more productive than I have in quite a while.

      July 22, 2013
  41. Ha! I am a former Accounts Payable Manager! Why is it we need to balance out the numbers with the words. I know I feel like I need to do it constantly.

    I fill my creative tank constantly. Literally. But unfortunately it is in drops. I have a thought, and it is a great one, then nothing. Then later a dream, then nothing. I see something that makes me think of a back story, then nothing.

    I gotta work on my follow through. 😉

    July 22, 2013
    • I started using Evernote on my phone, and it helps some with memory. I also make lists of ideas, though I will more often than not go “Why is THIS here????” 🙂

      July 22, 2013
  42. Can’t pick just one way, and I just realized I’m never really out of juice, I’m never drained–why?Stream of consciousness list for example: cooking, watching chef shows, music (old, new, live, radio, itunes, sharing) reading (a quick decorator how-to or a long novel or something zenlike and inspiring), cocktails, nature, movies (old, new, documentaries), poetry, Pilates/yoga, typing comments on other people’s blogs, talking/conversing/discussing/debating, brainstorming ideas from my dreams (night or daydreams), Game of Thrones or Dexter or Breaking Bad.

    I will sit by the bonfire with my husband on the weekend, and I’ll yammer on about one thing and another, and I’ll be creatively renewed by it. It must be wiring.

    Perhaps there is a valuable purpose to having your tank run low, and I am missing out on a better route that you get at the gas station. I’ve suspected I am overinspired for some time.

    July 22, 2013
    • It sounds like you have tons of energy. Several people have said their tanks run low when they’re tired, me included. I’ve written blogs posts when I was crying from lack of sleep, and I’m sure they weren’t very good. 🙂

      July 22, 2013
  43. I don’t have a problem filling my creative tank…in fact, for me, it’s just the opposite. I feel like I will burst if I can’t open the safety valve on my tank and take time to knit, crochet, cook, make cards, or my favorites: write or paint. Expressing myself through creativity is my therapy…what makes me a better, and nicer person to be around. I become frustrated and irritable when so many creative ideas are bouncing around in my head and I am unable to express them.

    July 22, 2013
    • When I worked in an office, I always felt that way. Now that I work for myself, it is harder to fill the tank.

      July 22, 2013
  44. What a lovely question to ask everyone, Andra.

    I like my own company. So every week I take a day off and go exploring. It sets the synapses crackling and I disappear and the stories materialise from corners of the world I never dreamed exist. Stories: they make the world go round.

    Looking forward to hear what you do!

    July 22, 2013
    • It is one of my missions in life to disappear with you for a day, Kate. Just so you know. You need to prepare for company. I promise I will not talk. Much.

      July 22, 2013
      • I shall look forward to that, Andra 🙂

        July 23, 2013
  45. I enjoyed that movie very much! It took a while to comprehend and get in the flow of the language but once I did, I could concentrate on what was happening rather than on what they were saying. 🙂 Did somebody say, orgy? hee,hee. I basically just live life and let the juices ferment a bit to fill my creative tank. 🙂

    July 22, 2013
    • The juices are good at feeding themselves, aren’t they?

      July 22, 2013
  46. I find the worst drainer of creativity is being tired, although coffee helps some. Also, maybe creativity is a bit like crop rotation: you have to mix up the media sometimes. Sometimes I just can’t write any more, so I go draw for a while.

    July 22, 2013
    • Mixing up consumption of media is a big help for me, David. I agree about being tired. It’s a huge creativity killer.

      July 22, 2013
  47. With a newness in writing of only a few months and daily posts I am already hitting the “running on empty” this past week. For me I reload on the surroundings spending a great deal of time under the influence of the world around me both from being present in it and reading of it through the interpretation of others in their writing. The catalyst for writing is also an important component, for now it is images that are varied and deliver different scenarios to consider. Finally forcing myself into different writing boxes poetry versus prose and fiction and non-fiction. I look forward to your writing on adding more fuel to your creative fire. Thanks Andra.

    July 22, 2013
    • It has been so interesting to read the different perspectives to this question today, Mike. I’m glad you weighed in. I haven’t seen a running-on-empty tone to any of your posts. Just FYI.

      July 22, 2013
  48. Sometimes I take breaks to unwind but then I find even at those times I start thinking about poetry or lines or… my poor mind! Ah, that muse…

    July 22, 2013
  49. There are so many great ideas on here for me to try. So far, what works best for me is to totally disconnect from everything to give my mind time to just be alone with itself. Usually this coincides with going for a long run, since actually being on the move away from my house with nothing but myself, some running clothes, and my shoes is the only way I’m disciplined enough not to succumb to my phone, my computer, my television, some other project, or chatting away with my husband. When I’m on the run, I’ve got nothing to do but think freely and let things get as weird and as random as they want to.

    July 22, 2013
    • Walks and yoga are the same for me. No devices. Just me and the activity. It really does help the synapses fire differently.

      July 22, 2013
  50. So I had to read through all of the comments to see if there were any architects that responded because it struck me as a question architects would love to answer. I didn’t find any, but then I figured I should actually read the about page and see if you were one by chance. Alas, no.

    The topic seemed so appropriate because architects have a tendency to live the answer to it everyday (a common benefit of designers in general). So we draw. We sketch. We build models of things and hold them up to the light, squinting enough to try and emulate some view that represents a fraction of what the actual experience would be–if only the creation was actually going to get built like we wanted it to.

    In many ways we speak better with our drawings than we do with words (both to ourselves and others) because we have a tendency to be incredibly esoteric, bounded within a rather specific language that we perpetuate and, as a result, force a lot of non-architects out of conversations. Fortunately the same thing that allows us to fill our ‘creative tank’ also lets us communicate with the world. So we draw. And miraculously, there always seems to be more to draw.

    July 22, 2013
    • I am married to an architect, as you will see in a coming post where I make loads of fun of him. 🙂 Seriously, though, I think architects are trained to see the world differently, and that’s a very positive thing. I know being married to an architect has improved my writing. I experience the world in expanded ways, and I am very grateful to my husband for teaching me new ways to see.

      July 23, 2013
      • Ah ha! I knew there was an architect’s influence somewhere in there. It’s true, architects are trained to bring a different lens to approaching problems and finding solutions. I’ll be looking out for the next post.

        July 23, 2013
      • I think it is coming on Thursday. 🙂

        July 23, 2013
  51. angela #

    Three days away from the library. It is so sad, but my job saps me from thinking because it is tiring for an introvert to be ON all day. Ironically, I would be much more creative if I didn’t place a stopgap on my muse – too many ‘professional’ peeps have access to blog, ergo, certain content should not be explored.

    July 23, 2013
    • You could always nom de plume……….. I’ve often wondered how I would censor myself if I wrote under a different name. In the early days of this blog, I censored myself a lot, because my mother read it, and I didn’t want to upset her. Over time, I stopped that, but work is different than mother. (Or is it????)

      July 23, 2013
      • angela #

        I have thought about opening another WP site, Andra, but I like YHC even if its a small place in this vast arena. It isn’t so much bosses, but patrons, whom I have foolishly given my blog address – one follows and if I get too dark, she comes a calling to make sure all is well. Add an old date to the mix, and bam, any angsty real posts get the round file! Bravo to you for saying what is on your mind, always! MTM as your biggest fan must be the first step to not caring…?!

        July 24, 2013
  52. Uhh…well…I pick up on things, I read or hear..and then I kinda go “Oh that’s a good topic!”…but then before it even reaches the blog it’s got to go through Monster Lahzy…yea….sometimes I have no ideas, so I draw. Sometimes drawing makes me tired…so I just watch youtube…that’s when I get totally mindless or I see something that I want to buy and go use my poor credit card.
    And I will fully understand if you shake your head at my “creative process” and do a facepalm on my behalf…lol

    July 23, 2013
    • Shree, I think whatever sparks creativity is worth doing, as long as it is not too illegal.

      July 23, 2013
  53. In this phase I’m under my own therapy. I look objectively at every birdly thought and beastly image roaming my savannah. I’m afraid of the reptilian noises from my jungle but on a dare I peer through the mental foliage and write about the moving shadows. Current real events and people become props in my ASH Theater Presents.
    Good God! I’ve become the Man in the Iron Mask!
    Of course a warm Unintentional Cootchie Mama kiss every day helps!

    July 23, 2013
    • Accidentally I said Unintentional
      Sorry

      July 23, 2013
      • Unintentional Cootchie Mama means nothing to me!
        I was thinking of you the whole time!

        July 23, 2013
    • Allen, I was away from my desk all day, but I read your comments earlier and cackled out loud. Thank you for a big ole laugh. I needed it.

      July 23, 2013
  54. I love the FUCK out of Joss Whedon! Awesome dude all around! I highly recommend Firefly on a regular basis as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen and Joss is the reason for that!

    By the way, he’s not a comic artist, just comic book writer!

    July 23, 2013
    • I thought they were the same………goes to show what I know about the genre.

      July 23, 2013
      • I know too much about the genre! heh, spent most of my life with comic books!

        July 23, 2013
  55. i open all of my senses to what’s out there, and am constantly amazed and surprised. many times by the littlest of things that inspire my creativity.

    July 24, 2013
  56. Floating on the water with the sun on my face. It recharges my soul every time. Now if only, I could write a good post about it. 🙂

    July 24, 2013
  57. Some great ideas here. Other than blogging, my creative outlet is songwriting and I’ve recently got story ideas for lyrics from visits to the opera and an art gallery (the resulting lyrics based on the ‘stories’ being told in the opera or painting). Another time, I challenged myself to get a song out of a single inanimate object that happened to be in my field of vision – a waste bin. That led to a comic song about ‘recycling’ an existing partner rather than taking a new one.
    I’ve also found that going into an enforced state of ‘doing nothing’ can help empty the mind enough to let new ideas in – going to the steam room and sauna at the health club is good for that.

    July 25, 2013
  58. Jen #

    People fill me up. interacting with people, real live ones, and then allowing myself the time to transform my thoughts into creations. In an ideal world, I would love someone to grant me a week long writers retreat, with healthy fresh cooked food eaten in communal meals followed by lots and lots of silence,

    July 27, 2013
    • I went on a weekend retreat like that last fall, but it was a lot of noise……..

      July 27, 2013
  59. When my creative tank is dry, often listening to music helps to give me some juice. I love this post and thanks to L. Marie…I found it! 🙂

    July 27, 2013
    • Music is an excellent recharge, Jill. Thanks for contributing this comment!

      July 27, 2013
  60. Funny, I did a post on this too and it IS really hard to find out what it is your Creativity Tank needs in order to be refilled, because it’s different with every person. And you don’t always want to/have the time to figure out what you need to do to refill the Tank.
    For me, I’ve discovered that reading a book in the genre I’m writing in helps me (it teaches you what (not) to do). Going out and doing something (shopping, taking a walk) helps me too. Sometimes you just need a break, though that isn’t always possible. When there’s pressure I just keep going for the sake of it and in the meantime try to fill the words that are being pulled out of my brain with words from other authors. We write because we love books, so reading them reminds us of that and helps (at least) me to get me back on the Writing Horse. 🙂 It also inspires me when I read blog posts or articles about writers who’ve landed an agent or have some other kind of success. Inspiration goes hand in hand with creativity. 🙂

    July 28, 2013
  61. pmahaney #

    Hopping in the car and taking a drive while listening to something I like can do wonders for relaxing, and clearing my mind. Inspiration can take form from a variety of little detours.

    July 28, 2013
  62. Hi, wrote an article that is more or less a reflection on this post. Yes I have given credit and linked properly (I hope). Still,maybe you can take a look from the pingback and check. Not trying to get you read my dumb article, just making sure you don’t feel plagiarised or anything. 🙂 thanks.

    August 9, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Learning Self-Kindness in the Crazy, Lazy, Creative Daze of Summer | Lisa A. Kramer: Woman Wielding Words
  2. The Magic of Imaginary Worlds | The Accidental Cootchie Mama
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  4. It Is Life That Is Right and the Architect Who Is Wrong | The Accidental Cootchie Mama
  5. To Boldly Go . . . | El Space–The Blog of L. Marie
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  7. The Drained Tank | The Clever Dog
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