Friday, July 22, 2011

Switching Gears

Not all of us are just writers. We wear many hats. Besides being a mother of four and a wife, I’m a commercial fisherman. Just this week I finished fishing the Sockeye salmon season in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

I’ve exchanged my fishing hat, raingear, boots, and bibs, for a laptop and a much needed green tea frappuccino.

Problem is my writer’s hat doesn’t fit. Something is wrong this year. I usually dive back into writing—into that magically world where I pull all the strings—with barely a splash. My characters welcome me back with a barrage of dialogue spewing so fast it’s all I can do to make sense of it all.

This year there is only silence.

The logical part of me says not to worry. Fishing was really hard this summer. Give yourself a freaking break. Remember those gale force winds, ten foot seas, and cutthroat fishermen. The parade of bears to where you were no longer saw them as a threat but more of a nuisance. Come on. Mosquitoes are a nuisance!

The creative side of me is frantic, mentally searching for anything worth writing about and coming up blank. It’s amazing how scary blank is. I’d rather deal with bears.
I know I need to “chillax” as my teenage daughter is fond of saying. I definitely need a few fraps. Reading a good book is also sound advice. Rereading my own material and maybe editing is a stellar idea too. But no. I don’t want to do any of it.

I’m just exhausted. Right? My creative well hasn’t dried up. Surely not. I could write about my recent summer experiences, but who wants to relive all that hard work and frustration? Not me. I want to fall into a coma.

So please, share how you refill your creative well when it appears to be all dried up?

This writer/fisherman needs to be tossed a line.

Tiffinie Helmer


Lesli Muir Lytle said...

You need to be around writers for a little while and it will all come back! You'll be all pumped up again. Too bad there isn't a great conference coming up--oh wait, there is. Park City in October. But until then, seek out your kind, woman.

Kris Yankee said...

Your photos are awesome! That bear - eek! Glad you're safe and back home.

I find that when my creative well has dried up, I need to take a step back from the project. Even if it's just a few days, not putting so much pressure on myself to write is a huge thing.

So, take a breath, read a magazine or watch some trash tv, and have a glass of wine/beer/vodka/whatever. You'll be back at the keyboard soon.

Grace said...

Read a book, watch a movie, catch up on your sleep, and exercise a different creative muscle for a while. I like to knit a new pattern when my muse takes her vacation. I'm currently in the process of beating the beyotch into submission. :D SHe finished the scene she wanted and says she's on break.

J. Coleman said...

Take your frappuccino and sit someplace like a park or the center of a mall, even a parking lot - anywhere there are a lot of people and watch. When my children were small and we'd stop for gas, the kids would have me make up stories about the people in the car next to us while we waited (like in the movie "Date Night"). Pick one person and imagine what's going on in their head, their life. I watched a guy smoking outside the back of a restaurant the other day waiting for take out. Rushed back to work & wrote a rough plot. If you're stuck in your story, put your character on a TV talk show and expose them. Glad you're off the high seas and slightly envious you're where it's cool! St. George is a balmy 107.

D.R. Grady said...

Take a nap, or two. Then I dig out an old manuscript and edit it. It gets the creative juices flowing again and it makes the story better. Or if that doesn't work, I go back to an friend - a book off my keeper shelf. That always helps. Give it some time, sounds like you had a hard time fishing, so your brain needs a refresh.

Tam Linsey said...

I agree with Lesli - being around other writers help me. Any chance you are in Anchorage any time soon? I know a bunch of ladies who would be happy to schedule a lunch around your schedule :) or said...

Join us and James Dashner on the 20th of August. That may help. As well as rubbing elbows with other writers for an electrical zap or two to help jump start the creative juices. We like to shock each other. Get home soon.

DeNise said...

Sometime a 'creative' date helps me get my juices flowing. A trip to a museum or gallery a real movie in the theater not at home on the tv.
You'll be back to juicy in no time. (tee-hee-pun intended)

DeNise said...

Sometime a 'creative' date helps me get my juices flowing. A trip to a museum or gallery a real movie in the theater not at home on the tv.
You'll be back to juicy in no time. (tee-hee-pun intended)

Tiffinie Helmer said...

Such GREAT comments ladies! That's it. I need a drink or many. Maybe my fraps aren't strong enough. Could it be that I'm not needing caffiene but something a bit more numbing.

Tam, I'm headed your way on Tuesday. I talked to Boone and found out there is a meeting scheduled. Yeah.

This was the best pep talk ever! Thanks again. I hope others get as much out of this as I did. I feel kind of selfish.

Anita Clenney said...

Hi Tiffinie. I'm glad you're home safe and sound. I can't believe you even have the courage to do this. Icy water, freezing cold, bears...Yikes!

I find inspiration comes from a variety of places. Reading is a great inspiration. If you find a great book, I bet your inspiration will strike. Also, movies help. My family went to see the new Harry Potter, and ten minutes into the movie, ideas started pummeling me for the book I'm writing now. I had to find a scrap piece of paper and used my cell phone light to scribble them down so I wouldn't forget. It was like a creative dam in my head broke free. It was wonderful because I'd been stuck in a scene.

So read, watch movies, and don't push yourself too hard. Don't worry, that blank page won't stay blank for long.

D.S Melander said...

I know how you feel. Sometimes I get so stuck in the writing process it's like the bottom falls out of the whole story and I can't find a way out. the last time that happened I put the book on the back burner where it seemed to want to be and focused on other things. and then some time later for no reason at all my gears started working again. creativity seems to be a separate entity that you can't control, you just have to ride the wave when it comes.