3 Ways to "Breathe In" to Fuel Your Creativity
The Oatmeal drew a beautiful short essay/comic a few years ago in which it compared creativity to breathing.
It is the most true assessment of the creative process I have ever come across, and it has helped me many times over when I bury myself under a heap of overwhelming demands on myself.
The theory goes as follows: Creativity is like breathing. When you are writing (painting, drawing, etc.), you are breathing out—putting a little piece of yourself out into the world.
You also have to breathe in.
Breathing in is when we take back from the world to regenerate what we have lost when we breathe out. “Breathing in” activities often feel like a luxury, and they can look like time getting wasted.
And so “breathing in” often gets pushed off the list, shoved off until later, or guilted completely off the radar altogether.
But you can’t just keeping breathing out all the time. It’s inhuman. That’s true for creativity as much as it is for literal breathing.
Especially as writers and artists, we need to set aside time to breathe out on a regular basis. Then, protect that time fiercely.
Here are three great ways to breathe out:
1. Read. Read other novels in your genre. Read all kinds of books not in your genre. Read short stories. Read essays. Read comics. Read, read, read, read, read.
2. Watch. It doesn’t take much flipping through the channels to stumble across amazing storytelling on television these days. Watch it. Study it. Watch movies. Watch documentaries. Watch satire. Visual storytelling still counts.
3. Listen. Subscribe to podcasts, go to conferences, and attend presentations. Take advantage of opportunities to listen to other authors and industry pros. Even better, go in open-minded and without your own agenda (which can be hard, at a conference!), and just pay attention.
4. Branch out. Breathing in does not have to be limited to things directly related to your creative work. Learning to draw, taking a pottery class, or going to a ballet count too! These all feed your brain’s creativity and challenge it in new ways.
When you hit a wall in your creative process, ask yourself: Are you breathing out?
Probably not. If that’s the case, put down your pen. Close the computer. For the love of God, stop breathing out.
Then, assess your situation. What do you need to do to get some inhaling back into your life? Do what’s necessary to replenish your creative juices, and breathe deep.
Click on the cover below to get Mud, the 1st book in E.J.'s Chronicles of the Third Real War series today.
Torn apart by war and abandoned by the gods, only one hope remains to save humanity. But the savior isn’t human at all.Trapped by his Maker’s command to protect a mysterious box, Adem is forced to kill anyone who tries to steal it. When a young boy chances upon Adem’s temple, he resists temptation, intriguing the golem. As the boy and his sister convince Adem to leave the refuge of his temple, the group lands in a web of trouble.
Now Adem will do whatever necessary to keep his new young charges safe, even if it means risking all to get rid of the box. Their saving grace comes in the form of an angel who offers to set Adem free of the box’s magic by granting his greatest desire—making him human.
But first, Adem must bring back the angel’s long-dead human love from the Underworld. In doing so, he will risk breaking the barrier between the realms, a cataclysm that could launch the Third Realm War. To set things right, he may be forced to give up his the only thing he’s ever truly wanted…a chance at a soul of his own.
E. J. Wenstrom is a fantasy and science fiction author living in Cape Canaveral, FL. Her first novel, Mud, is being published by City Owl Press. When she’s not writing fiction, E. J. drinks coffee, runs, and has long conversations with her dog. Ray Bradbury is her hero.
Join E. J.’s newsletter to stay up-to-date on Mud‘s upcoming release and other fun readerly news: www.ejwenstrom.com.