Like most of the other Ferrets, 2017 was a hell of a year for me. 2016 ended in true end-of-season sweeps week cliffhanger fashion, with my roommate (Ferret Jessica) getting pregnant and she, her husband, and I standing around the pregnancy tests she’d taken going “…well damn.”
Thus, 2017 went something like this:
- Clean up our house
- Interstate road trip #1
- Show our house
- Sell our house
- Interstate road trip #2
- Go house hunting
- Buy a new house
- Baby shower
- Get settled
- Have baby
- Oh shit there’s a baby in our house
- Ferret hospitalization
- Holidays, aka interstate road trip #3
By the time 2017 finally breathed its last, I felt like I had been clinging to “just make it to the end of the year without a breakdown” mode since June. All of the goals and plans I’d had for my writing in January went poof, and I was literally just focused on making it through the month, the week, the day.
The title of this post was originally a joke. I couldn’t figure out what it was that I did to refill the creative well that wasn’t, you know, the same thing everyone else tells you to do when you’re burned out, and I’ve been obsessing over a new TV show since the end of November, so I want to tie it into everything.
And then I realized…wait.
That is literally how I refill my creative well: by finding a new obsession.
In high school, it was the Final Fantasy games and Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series. In college, it was Lord of the Rings (don’t ask me how many versions of the movies I own, okay, it’s a lot). In my post-college life, it has been, in no particular order: World of Warcraft, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Doctor Who, Final Fantasy XII, Courtney Milan’s romance novels, Teen Wolf, Leverage, and Voltron: Legendary Defender.
And when I say “obsession,” I mean it. I fall into these pits for at least a year, if not two or three, sucking the marrow out of every bit of content that I can. I’ve played and beaten ten out of the fifteen Final Fantasy games. I watched the Lord of the Rings movies collectively eleven times in theaters (including the Trilogy Tuesday before Return of the King came out, where we watched all three movies in the theater, one right after the other). I watched Leverage in its entirety five times before the show finally left Netflix. I own every novel and novella that Courtney Milan has ever written.
Whenever I’ve been mentally or creatively burned out (or approaching burnout), it tracks with when I find myself a new show, a new movie, a new book series, or a new game to sink my teeth into. And inevitably, diving into a new obsession means I have a shiny new original story waiting for me on the other end of it.
I can point to every single novel I’ve ever written and say, “I wrote this because of X.” Maybe it was a character. Maybe it was a concept. Maybe it was a mood. Maybe it was a one-off line about someone’s backstory that never got expounded on. But all of the things I’ve obsessed over have, in turn, given me stories to tell.
Falling desperately in love with what other people have created fuels the fire I have to create for myself.
I know this method isn’t one that will work for everybody, especially because it does require the ability to pull yourself out of the pit occasionally (and as anyone who’s been a fan for any length of time can tell you, getting out of the fandom pit is hard). But feeling that joy, that passion, for a story is one of the best ways I’ve found to recharge my batteries and get me excited about creating again.