Creating a cycle of creative renewal

In my last post, I wrote about the cycle of creative burnout and how our creative inspiration becomes depleted when we push ourselves too hard and for too long.

I’m well acquainted with burnout; it’s a cultural norm in the field of urban design, my last “real” J.O.B. The writing profession has its own set of deadline-driven, high-stress work.

In the creative realms, including writing, artists are often seen as people who work in fits and starts, pulling all-nighters when they suddenly become inspired (or finally stop procrastinating).

I’ve allowed myself to enjoy the feeling of heroism that comes when I swoop in and save the day, meeting the deadline with just seconds to spare, but I’ve paid high prices for every single one of those dramatic experiences: apathy, resistance, confusion, grief, exhaustion, and lifelessness.

And truthfully, I STILL feel like I’m recovering from the bad choices I made working 60 and 70 hours a week more than 10 years ago.

Balance is a myth? I don’t think so.

It’s been said that balance is a myth and that passion should reign supreme.

I disagree.

Imbalance is an amateur’s gig.

Balance — an ongoing cycle of work and renewal without resorting to extremes — is part of not hitting bottom in the first place.

Balance is about staying sane.

It doesn’t mean that we don’t work hard and play hard at different times.

But it does mean keeping an eye on the greater whole and not bingeing on any one thing at any given time.

So what DOES a cycle of creative renewal look like?

The cycle of creative renewal

It looks like this:



Tell me what you think

I love to read your comments on the blog.




Coming Attractions

~> November 15th. Join my free Writer’s Chat on TOMORROW. Sign up here:

~> November 21st. Register by WEDNESDAY November 21st (a day early because of the U.S. Thanksgiving) for the next 4-week session of my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle (starts November 26th). Build a solid habit of daily writing and finish all your writing projects:


What I'm Up To

~> Daily (back at it now that I’m more or less recovered from my wrist surgery). Working on rewriting my script, Progeny, with my mentor Chris Soth after finishing the ProSeries.* Working on “mini-movie 4!”

~> Reading: How to Train Your Dragon with my son. Back to watching Big Love.


* Affiliate link





What to do when you want to write but you’re not writing: 6 steps to get back on track

Note: For all the naysayers who scoff when people have trouble writing — these aren’t the droids you’re looking for. You can go about your business. Move along, move along.

When you want to write, but you’re not doing it — whether not at all or not as much as you’d like — there are some simple tricks that can help get you going.

Here are some examples of times where you might see your not-writing pattern show up:

  • You’ve been wanting to write but you aren’t sure what to write about.
  • You know what you want to write about but you can’t find the time to write.
  • You have time to write but you can’t seem to get yourself to do it — and you feel guilty and ashamed about it.
  • You were writing regularly, but you just got back from a trip and you’re having trouble getting started again.
  • You’re stuck on a particular part of your project and you don’t know what to do about it.
  • Just looking at a blank page is overwhelming.
  • Thinking of the final product (the book, the screenplay) is overwhelming and you can’t imagine how you’ll ever get there.
  • You’ve had a success with your writing and you’re feeling intimidated about topping it (second novel syndrome is an example of this).
  • You’re bored of the project you’re working on and you can’t think of anything else to work on that sounds remotely interesting.

First things first.

ALL of these scenarios have one thing in common: Resistance.

Resistance is that little devil we affectionately know by many names — perfectionism, procrastination, fear, doubt, apathy, etc.

Resistance is telling yourself you don’t have enough time: You do. Really. You only need a few minutes every day to get back on the horse. And it’s way less hard than you think it is. I promise.

Resistance is telling yourself you don’t care, don’t have ideas, or don’t want to write. Bull. I know you’re a writer and I know you want to write.

Let me help you.

6 steps to get back on track with your writing

Step #1: Don’t fall for the resistance.

Resistance LIES to you. It is the enemy. Resistance is not your friend. It is not the truth. It is like an energetic force you press up against when you start moving closer to your project, like you’re wading through chest-high sludge. It pushes you back. IT resists YOU.

DO NOT fall for it. Do not believe it, do not entertain it, do not listen to it.

Step #2: Start with super small baby steps.

The smallest you can muster.

Decide on the very smallest increment of writing that feels totally, completely, 100% attainable.

My recommendation? Somewhere between 5 to 15 minutes per day.

Step #3: Use a timer.

Get out your paper, your file, whatever you want to work on. Set your timer for the time you agreed upon with yourself. Write for that entire length of time. Don’t stop until the timer dings.

If you’re fresh out of ideas, do morning pages, use writing prompts, or answer questions from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way or The Vein of Gold. Or brainstorm concepts for your next novel or script. I don’t care what you’re doing, as long as you’re putting words on the page.

Do work on these with an eye on getting clear what your bigger project is about if you aren’t already.

Step #4: Celebrate!

Seriously. I’m not kidding. You just overcame the massive forces of resistance. That is no small feat. It’s like destroying the Death Star every single day.

Give yourself a treat — surf on YouTube for a couple of minutes, stretch in the sunshine. No big deal, just a little acknowledgement of what you just accomplished.

Step #5: Mark time on your calendar for tomorrow and plan what you’re going to write.

Get out your calendar and schedule the time for your next writing session.

While you’re at it, decide what you’ll work on during your session.

Step #6: Continue every day.

Keep writing, incrementally, for at least 5 to 7 days out of every week. You’ll be surprised to notice that it’s much easier to get started again when you’re staying current with your project. Experiment with how much time it’s “safe” to take off.

I found pretty quickly that anything less than 5 days off is almost unbearable for me. Seven days a week on the other day, feels exhausting. I do like to have a day off.

Next time: 10 tips to make writing regularly easier — Stay tuned!

The next session of my Writer’s Circle starts on Monday, June 11th, and the last day to register is Thursday, June 7th by Midnight Eastern Time. If you are a serious writer who isn’t writing — or a writer who wants to get more serious about your work — my Writer’s Circle system will help you finish your projects. Come join me!

Find out more at

“I tamed the book beast in 3 sessions, 15 minutes at a time.”

“I’ve had this book brewing in me for 15 years. I never thought I could finish it…it seemed too big. After joining the Writer’s Circle, I tamed the book beast in 3 sessions, 15 minutes at a time. The Writer’s Circle system is so effective, that I have used the basic principles in other areas of my life to great success. It is so satisfying to finally turn my dream into reality.”

~ Terri Fedonczak, Certified Martha Beck Life Coach,

Finished the first draft of her parenting book after starting it 10 years ago.