As writers, we are creative people, yet even creative people can sometimes find themselves stuck for ideas. What do you do when you are drawing a blank, or suffering from “writer’s block”?
As Catholic writers, we know that our creativity is a gift from God, so that should be the main and first source we turn to for inspiration. I always find praying to the Holy Spirit before I start writing helps the process. Sometimes, if I’m working under the pressure of a looming deadline, those prayers can become quite desperate: “Holy Spirit, I need help now!” Other times, it is a much more relaxed, “Dear Holy Spirit, please enlighten me as I write.”
While I am certain if He wanted to, the Holy Spirit could dictate the world’s finest manuscript through my fingers, that doesn’t seem to be the case (at least not yet!) The Holy Spirit helps me a great deal, but I still seem to be the one who needs to go out and do the leg work. That includes reading, taking notes and keeping my eyes open when I am out in the world for ideas that I can use in my writing. It also means I need to write those ideas down, even if it is on a scrap piece of paper, so that I don’t forget them.
I also need to make the time to sit down and be creative. While being creative on a schedule seems counterintuitive (after all, shouldn’t inspiration be something spontaneous?) it actually helps to know that I have a time set aside for writing. With nothing else on my schedule at that time, it means that I am focused on the task at hand, and am less likely to be distracted by the other hundred and two things on my to-do list. Still, when that time comes, I sometimes find myself at a loss for ideas.
I recently read The Muse is In: An Owner’s Manual to Your Creativity. This is a fun, colorful book by Jill Badonsky designed to encourage one’s natural creative juices. She offers a collection of ideas for projects (one for each day of the year), wonderful quotes by creative people to keep you going when all seems lost, and ways to conquer those parts of our personalities that work against our creative process such as fear, perfectionism, being overwhelmed, self-sabotage, and procrastination.
The Muse is In offers inspiration and encouragement. It is all about the process, as opposed to the end result. If you find you are in a place where the well of inspiration is a bit dry, I definitely recommend it. Pray to the Holy Spirit, and then read this book, and I can almost guarantee your next creative idea will be at your fingertips!