Piggybacking on last week’s Recoloring Blue Days, I wanted to talk about how to jumpstart your spark of creativity when you can barely see it or it’s gone out completely.

Working through my grief over my mom’s death and the death of my friend, Caroline, I haven’t been able to muster up too much creativity. I understand why and am giving myself the space I need, but there was a part of me that longed for it; longed for the joy that comes with creating.

The spark flashed briefly a couple of weeks ago when I woke up with a new picture book idea. I jotted it down excitedly, only to stall after a few sentences, the spark gone.

Getting the Spark Back

These strategies may not work for everyone, but I’ve found they often work for me, depending on where I am emotionally.

  • spiralCreativity Out of Necessity. Look at things you have to get done—writing-related or not. Can you put a creative spin on it? Because I was teaching two craft seminars (which had filled nicely–hooray!) I had to finalize some exercises for each of them. As I worked out how I wanted the exercises to go and pictured the writers working on them, I felt that spark. I asked myself if the exercise would help writers understand the topic better, which gave me additional ideas. Soon I found myself smiling as I created and tweaked the exercises. I think it was connecting the exercise to the writer that got me excited.
  • Creativity in Baby Steps. Pick one small thing to do:
    • Re-read the first lines of one of your stories
    • Read a book that’s similar to your work-in-progress
    • Read a craft book
    • Revise a sentence or a paragraph that’s been bugging you
    • Observe one child or teen during the day and see if it sparks an idea or solution to a current project challenge.
      I’m really close to finishing my Find a Publisher online course, but I lost my momentum and my enthusiasm waned. But I want to finish it so last Tuesday, when I was sitting at the Honda shop waiting for my car to be checked, I decided to tackle some very minor tasks. After completing a couple, I started to feel a little spark of excitement because I was thinking of how much I love to share what I know and the course has so much great content.
  • drawingCreativity Outside the Box. Choose a different outlet. Pick up your phone or a camera and take some pictures. Draw. Paint. Dance. Try something else that appeals. Without the pressure of “having to get that book done,” you are free to merely create for creativity’s sake.Years ago, when I was stuck for eight months on my novel, I was feeling very discouraged and uncreative. I decided to see what else I could work on and settled on a book trailer for my now out-of-print picture book, Build a Burrito. After a few false starts, I hit on a stop-motion video and had a blast making it! I was excited and feeling creative again.

These are my top three ways to jumpstart the spark. If you have others, please share!