Playing to Refill Your Creative Reservoir

Sometimes writing is a joyful thing for me. The words flow and the act of putting together a story fills me with creativity and excitement.

Other times…it’s not so joyful. It’s stressful and draining and takes more out of me than I feel I have to give, especially when there are external, real-life sorts of things going on to distract me. Some people might write well in that state, but I certainly am not one of them. (And if you are one, I am deeply envious of you!)

So what can you do when you feel empty of all creativity? When you know what you want to write and how the story should be, but you just can’t seem to figure out how to get there?

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One thing I’ve found that helps me through those times is to take a break and to play. Last summer, right after finishing my first semester in my MFA program and feeling pretty drained, I spent hours and hours with my hot glue gun making wands for a Harry Potter birthday party. And I loved it. I never had a firm plan in mind for each wand, I just messed around with the glue, playing with it until I liked the shape I ended up with. The same thing happened when I painted them. I let myself play with different colors and thicknesses. The act of creating, of letting myself play, filled me and I was able to return to my writing both inspired and rejuvenated.


Even something as simple as playing the piano or singing as I clean the bathroom can be rejuvenating and leave me in a better mental place to come back to my writing. I have friends who sew or do calligraphy or draw in order to refill their creative reservoirs. And sometimes, I’ll even play around with other writing projects. Picture books and silly poetry are especially good for me.

We recently moved and, I have to admit, my creativity levels have been at a rather low point. (Who knew that the exhaustion from packing up your life and moving around tons of boxes could be so draining?) But I still have deadlines for school and things I need to get done. So what am I going to do?

I’m going to go play.

What about you? What do you do to refill your creative reservoirs? What’s your favorite way to play?


Jenilyn Collings loves to read and write things that are humorous or romantic (preferably both). She has worked as a dental researcher, a florist, a martial arts instructor, and a tracker at an alternative high school (she’ll leave it to your imagination what that entailed), but she’s now focused on writing and child wrangling. A long time resident of the Mountain West, she recently moved to New England with her family where she is gaining an appreciation for umbrellas, fall colors, and turning lanes while driving.

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