For so long, whenever I sat down to write and my brain felt parched and clumsy, I would put it down to writer’s block. Treating it usually involved ice cream, staring at the ceiling and wondering where it all went wrong, and just poking at each troublesome sentence. It usually lasted until I managed to get back in the flow of cranking out pages as fast as I could type.
It wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized something that was perhaps common knowledge: output has to equal input. Now, if you’re looking at writing as a hobby rather than a career, perhaps you’re always in the positive. If you want to make a career of writing, it’s quite possible that you ride in the negative far more than you would like.
What I mean by output and input isn’t some sort of complicated harvest time equation in an algebra book. “If you plant five carrot seeds, add two inches of soil, one pint of water, and the cost of carrot seed is your immortal soul + your firstborn child…” Nope. I’m talking about the amount of creative media you stuff in your brain versus how much you’re putting out. If you’re a crazy duckling who churns out a few 100k a year, like I try to, then you should probably start ransacking your local library. (Can we have a moment of silence, please, for what a lifesaver libraries are. -places hand over heart- GOD BLESS LIBRARIES. that is all.)
Are you writing a dystopian story? Then break out the Hunger Games soundtrack and start reading/listening/watching. I can’t even list all the bonuses of managing your writing life like this, but I can give it a whack.
Firstly, you will become aware of all the popular cliches/tropes in your genre. Or, like the Hunger Games and the Divergent trilogy, you’ll become aware of the famous series that created anything after them to look like a cheap ripoff.
Secondly, it provides fodder for inspiration. Granted, getting lazy and copying Katniss Everdeen, slapping some red hair on her head and calling it original is not inspiration. That’s plagiarism, kids. Don’t do it. College professors everywhere will scream. But what it does do is provide ideas that can be quite unique.
“What if I took this character’s sassiness -cue Iron Man theme- and mixed it with a cinnamon roll personality -cue John Laurens sobbing in the distance- and then made him a baker -cue Peeta Mellark- ?”
Granted, I’ve never been inspired in quite such a logical, step-by-step way.
However, writing follows some of the same guidelines that life does. You can output energy, but if you don’t put any energy back in, you’ll end up like one of those Halloween skeletons, dangling from somebody’s porch in a lame October attempt to be the creepiest house on the block. Now, managing that input/output is easier said than done. If you don’t like watching movies/TV, read books. Wow your librarians with your bookworm-ish muscles as you lug out the maximum amount of books that can be put on your card. Hide in your room and eat chocolate and cry over books. You’ll be inspired, I promise.