Focused Fallow Period

rice-fields-204139_960_720Fallow: farmland plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation or to avoid surplus production

“I think many of us fear idleness, as if not producing is evil, a poison. But in my opinion, what’s truly toxic to our work — the work of creating art, of finding and sharing beauty and truth and experience — is to push too far. To focus on output rather than input. To view rest as an enemy, rather than as another tool in our toolbox.” –Kristin Hoffman

A few weeks ago my lovely CP Katy shared this post about creativity; specifically, about how to keep it flourishing. Basically, nonstop creative output is impossible, and everyone needs a break to recharge. I’m sure we’ve all been there–where the blank document or blank notebook pages are staring at you and you feel there’s nothing left to give.  You’ve been on deadline (or missed a deadline) or it’s time for the next big idea and you feel like you are scraping nothing but dry earth from the bottom of a well. This post was such a good reminder that creativity comes from life! A healthy, balanced life. <–That thing Americans don’t do well

About a month ago I had the lucky opportunity to spend a few days with my CPs in Vegas for Leviosa Con, and we ended up discussing creative breaks. (Actually, my reward for meeting my Leviosa deadline was a planned break, thanks to that post!) As always when you get a group of writers together, it’s interesting to share different processes and observations. For instance, we noted that becoming a hermit—as comfortable and natural as it may seem to introverts—can stagnant your creativity. Ideas come from meeting people, going to events, being outdoors, seeing new things. If you are to “write what you know” – the most common way people seem to approach writing – you need to know more than the four walls of your house and the mannerisms of your pet!

This is different from reading or watching movies or TV or listening to music, although those things are all inspirational in their own ways. Those are all examples of another artist’s polished work and vision. That’s what they made from their own experiences. If you only consume other pieces of art, yours can become a copy of a copy and you can lose that spark of passion that gives other people the chance to connect with your story.

Personally, I love the idea of a focused fallow period. I have time for fun and spontaneous discovery, but I also have a list of things to read/see for researching my next project. It’s a way for me to absorb new information and ideas without feeling pressured.

Obviously, being a turtle of a human myself, it’s easy to say “Go live life!” but much harder for me to do. For me, making small talk with a retail checker is a big deal. Cancelled plans nearly always mean a sigh of relief and the immediate thought “I get to read/write tonight instead!”  But I’m officially in a fallow period now (I’m technically not drafting again until October) and while I’m basking in the glow of permission to blaze through my TBR and watchlist, part of this time is about going out to live some life. Which is terrifying, but that probably means it’s the right thing to do!

To all my fellow writers / hermits, I encourage you to get out there! Think of it as research. It seems scary at first, but every time I have done this I end up with buckets of ideas and better yet, stories and memories that happened outside of my home. Best of luck!



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. janellaa
    Aug 14, 2016 @ 09:38:44

    This is an AMAZING idea, and so healthy for the Muse ❤ She will be a faithful, productive servant to you come October because you treated her so well throughout this period 😛

    Liked by 1 person


    • Amanda
      Aug 14, 2016 @ 12:02:32

      It has been amazing so far! Reading my last book now before beginning my research novels and films and my mind feels so awake, it’s awesome!



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