I enjoy writing and strive to keep it entertaining here on the blog. Creating a consistent background story helps me come up with new blog projects and inspires new soft toys. But the constant demand from social media for new material means I sometimes struggle to come up with anything interesting to say.
I have a small collection of books that inspires my writing when I'm feeling burned out or in a rut. Here are some resources to consider if you find yourself stuck as a writer. Most have been around a while and are easy to find used or at the library.
Many people have read the Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, a course in creative ownership. Think of Walking in this World as Part 2 of her course. There are new exercises including a walking meditation to add to your creative routine. A brisk 20 minute walk often helps me break through blocks and refreshes my mind when in the midst of a big project. Add this book to your New Year's list if you are looking for inspiring strategies for creative flow.
Bird by Bird is a classic writing instruction book. Warm, funny and honest, Anne Lamott lets us in on the big secret of a writer's life: they write crappy first, second and third drafts just like us. The difference between published authors and us is they keep going, pushing through junk writing until they uncover treasure. She includes helpful step-by-step exercises throughout and keeps the text lively with anecdotes from her own experience as a writer.
Barbara DeMarco-Barrett's Pen on Fire comes from years of interviewing writers in her radio show "Writers on Writing". This book is chock full of good advice from writers who know how hard it can be to shut out distractions and find time to write. She shares the methods women use to find the time and energy to write. From 15 minute tasks you can do in waiting rooms to exercises on getting started, mining your life for stories, crafting a plot and letting it all out, there are many tools here to get your creative juices flowing.
Elizabeth Berg's novels capture the essence of people who's lives are in flux. Her book Breaking into the Open offers practical advice about the challenges and joys of the writer's life. She tells her own story of how she went from working mom to published novelist while weaving in encouraging advice on capturing your own stories. There are numerous exercises designed to break through your personal limits while writing from the heart.
Elizabeth Gilbert's latest book Big Magic is a big permission slip to enjoy our creativity, no matter what the field. In essence she says we need to allow ourselves to create simply because it makes us happy. We make creativity hard when we insist that it pay the bills, make us famous or qualify us as unique. She feels that if we simply show up and fool around creatively, real magic can and does happen. But it won't appear if we don't do the work. Its a wonderful affirmation of creative life.
These books are my staples when my writing feel stale and I'm out of new ideas. Going back to the basics, working through engaging exercises and reading about the struggles and triumphs of other authors puts writing blocks in perspective for me. I hope you find these books intriguing and will give them a look if you haven't already.