You may look at the photo below and say, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas the desert anymore.” And you’d be right.
I have the honor of introducing Julia Munroe Martin, a friend, blogger and talented writer from Maine to my blog this week. Her sea-inspired photos and words provide relief from the dry spell we’re experiencing here in the desert. Literally and figuratively. (I’ve been focused on novel edits, so Julia’s insightful post and gorgeous photos couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you, Julia!)
The Photo-therapist is In ~ By Julia Munroe Martin
Lately I’ve been in a writing funk. A lull. A lack of creativity. I might even go so far as to say I’ve felt some doubt. Can I do this? Do I want to do this?
It all started in the month of May. Our usually empty nest refilled. Our daughter was home for almost a month. Our son and his lovely girlfriend too. It was wonderful. My writing was at a point of natural ebb: querying my recently finished novel. But of course there’s more writing to do—there’s always more to do. Two novels in progress. One in early planning stages, but one already outlined in detail—ready to go!
But then it happened. I was enthusiastic until one day suddenly I wasn’t. Just wasn’t. And it (being unenthusiastic) didn’t go away when I tried the things that usually help. Like turning off the Internet, clearing off my desk, cleaning up the house, going on walks, watching movies, reading books or magazines, listening to music, going on more walks, cooking good meals, weeding the garden, baking cookies… none of my usual tricks worked.
A week went by of writing next to nothing. I started getting a little worried. Then two. Even more worried. Is this still my thing? Can I write anymore?
One day I lamented my plight to Melissa—okay, in the interest of full disclosure, Melissa noticed I wasn’t my usual writerly self, and she asked me. When I told her how I was feeling, Melissa was very sympathetic (she’s a good friend and as a writer herself, she’s been there), and she made this suggestion:
“…find someplace outside where you can just go and be with yourself—take the camera. That ALWAYS inspires me. Just go take photos one day in your backyard to jar your creative juices into flowing again. You can do it!”
As I read her email, I realized not only was I not writing as much as I used to—I hadn’t taken any photos for a long time either. And I usually do, for my blog but also just because I enjoy it. Within minutes of getting her email I was outside in my backyard taking photos. I gave it a good effort, took a few photos, but to be honest I really wasn’t into it. I took a few but just a few.
But a funny thing happened after I got back inside. I sat down and wrote, for the first time in about a month: 2500 words on one of my new WIPs!
The next day I decided I’d try again. I took my camera and headed for a favorite coastal spot—where I often see Ospreys and other birds, and it also affords beautiful views of the islands of Casco Bay.
Still, I felt lackluster, and I realized it had been so long since I’d taken photographs just for the joy of it that I wasn’t quite sure where to start. And it surprised me. After all, I live in one of the most naturally beautiful places in the country—one of Maine’s monikers is “Vacationland,” for goodness sake.
I thought about Melissa, her blog, and the kinds of things she photographs, and I asked myself: What would Melissa do? For one thing, there’s the quote on her blog—her tagline:
“Sometimes our best inspiration for our writing—and our lives—is right in front of us. So whether you’re a writer or just someone who wants to experience life with eyes wide open, I invite you to see what I saw.”
I thought of all the inspiring photographs I’ve seen on Melissa’s blog: her adventures in Betty, the wildlife, the beautiful open spaces and mountains, the old ghost towns, the mighty Saguaro, the trestle bridge, and so much more. I realized what I really like about Melissa’s blog—it reflects her genuine love of nature and allows us, her readers, to experience the things she sees with wonder, her inspiration, as though through her eyes.
And then I knew what I had to do! I used Melissa’s technique as a model—channeled her photographic lens to inspire my creativity and my photographs! In short, Melissa became my photo-therapist.
Just yesterday, I went out to take more photographs. It was a beautiful sunny day, mid-tide flowing, and I went to an island about ten minutes from home—connected via bridge to the mainland. I wanted to take some more photos for this post, some photos that reflected what I see. I walked down to water’s edge, and at first I was disappointed. I looked for signs of life in the water, but it was murky, and I didn’t see anything. But I waited and just watched. Suddenly the water came alive. I saw first one tiny crab, then another. I saw snails and minnows and tiny clams…and so much more. I took photo after photo; you can see some of them below.
The big question is…Did the photography work? Am I writing more? Yes! I’m happy to report my writing is back on track. My current WIP is now at about 10,000 words, and I’m back to writing every day. More importantly, I’m feeling more enthusiastic. I know I might go through this again—okay, I can say with absolute certainty I will go through it again. But when I do, now I have one more trick up my sleeve.
And so do you. Just ask yourself: What would Melissa do? And writers – what techniques do you use to promote creativity when you’re in the doldrums?