Filling Up: Creativity’s Limits

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.

Have you tried watching movies/reading books to fill your creative tank back up? Did it work?

6 thoughts on “Filling Up: Creativity’s Limits

  1. Abbie Emmons (@AbbieeMusic) says:

    YAAAAAAAS. THIS POST. I agree 1000% with the input/output thing. I’m definitely not the kind of writer who cranks out hundreds of thousands of words every year…I would say I’m more of a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of writer to be honest. XD but!! Movies/TV/books with good storylines INSPIRE ME TO WRITE SOOOOOO MUCH. I can just tell if I’ve encountered a good story because I’m just like “skjfsljdlkasjdlkjs MUST WRITE” and it’s a lovely feeling omg. :’)


    love this post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • cassandrabarthuly says:

      Oh gosh yes. It makes me so happy when story ideas start bubbling up because I watched/read something with such a good storyline. I have the opposite problem, I like writing many words in a short amount of time, but I always overestimate myself and end up getting burned out. Crying over books and eating chocolate, I 10/10 recommend.


  2. Jane Maree says:

    Ackk this reminds me how slack I’ve been at reading. I’ve been trying, I really have but ugh. I’m not being very good. And I don’t even know why because I LOVE reading?? *smacks brain* GO READ, JANE.


    • cassandrabarthuly says:

      Same! I went on a reading binge in June/early July and have been slacking so much, even though I love reading. I really need to get back into it before school hits and I go off the deep end of textbooks xp


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