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Agony Editor: Ideas come to those who wait — and read

Dear Agony Editor,

I’m a mid-career author currently between books. For the first time in my career, I have no ideas. Zilch. Usually, even when I’m working on a book, I have two or three future ideas on the burner. But the well has gone dry. I also have no desire to write. This makes me very nervous. How do I get my ideas – and my spark – back?



Dear Dull,

While it might be new to you, I think what you’re experiencing is fairly common. As much as writers can control their work, they can’t always control their creative processes. 

Creativity isn’t a switch you turn on when you feel like writing a book. If only it were that simple! It’s possible that factors outside your writing life are consuming your energy and ideas. (Let’s not forget the psychological and emotional impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on many.) 

Given that you’re in the middle of your career, your current pause could mean something greater is brewing. Perhaps the books you’ve written in the past follow similar themes and subject matter, and it’s time to push your writing in new directions. 

While you wait for inspiration to strike, there are a couple of things you can do that are within your control. Don’t let your anxiety make it worse. Obsessing about your lack of ideas won’t help. Consider this time a mini-vacation from writing. Also, try to dismantle any notions that you have about the kind of writer you are or the types of books you write. Read books that may not normally be on your radar. It’s time to get inspired by other writers. 

Lastly, make sure you’re on high alert. Creativity is a door. You need to recognize when that door opens and be prepared to walk through it. Pay attention to the small details in your daily life, the conversations you have, your dreams at night, the sound of birds in the morning. The spark is out there, and it will come when you’re ready to receive it. 

Just make sure you recognize it when it arrives. And have a little patience in the meantime.


June 15th, 2022

8:40 am

Category: Opinion

Tags: ,