We all do too much, right? It’s hard to stop. We can do it all, and we try. But then we get run down. At least I do, in two ways: overall energy level and creative spark.

To replenish my overall energy level, I need equal measures of sleep and sitting quietly at home not interacting with anyone. Usually, this means I need my nose in a book (fiction, thank you, preferably mystery). That’s a sure-fire remedy for me. I know how to solve that problem.

Recapturing my creative drive is more difficult—in part because, while I’ve been dealing with low energy my whole life, I’ve only been cultivating my creative side seriously for the last two years. You see, my first book was (as I expect most first books are) a voyage of wonder and discovery. I wrote it as the muse came to me. Rewrites also came to me at the right time.

It wasn’t like that for my second book though. To make a long, excruciating story short (you’re welcome), book 2 taught me I couldn’t wait for the muse to arrive, but I had to go hunt down that fickle bitch and put her to work.

Now I’m facing my third book, nary a plot idea in sight. And I have to get excited about it … but how?

I’ve been reading new, good mysteries lately, and that’s helping stir my competitive juices (not to beat others, but to feel I belong in the community). I’m reading articles about politics and miscreants in auto racing, which is making the plot engine in my brain sputter to life. But I need something major to kick my fingers into gear (my husband is unlikely to role play the muse in the illustration). And I’m hoping that the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, happening this week in Cleveland, Ohio, will be the ticket.

More than a thousand of us—published authors, aspiring writers, fans, readers, booksellers, groupies, you name it—lovers of mystery and crime fiction will gather to celebrate books and writing. I’ll spend three days solid talking about the highs and lows of the writing process with friends and role models. If the past is any judge, I’ll come home exhausted, intimidated, and uplifted. With any luck, also energized and ready to tackle my demons new book.

But in case that doesn’t work, what suggestions do you have for jump-starting my creativity?

(Illustration from

6 Responses to Recharging

  1. Tammy, B’Con will do wonders. I’ve never figured out why it works in a positive way to hang around people who seem to be writing better, faster, twenty four hours a day but it does. You’d think it would have the opposite effect.

  2. Just start to type with your focus on a single sentence and keep writing from there…OR…[and I hate to say this this again] check out “MAKING STORY: Twenty-One Writers on How They Plot.” And if that fails, hand your husband the gun (preferably empty.). Can’t wait to see you in Cleveland.

    • Oh, right, into the abyss! My problem is that I just don’t know a single thing yet. I’d be OK writing without a full plan if I at least had one or two elements of it. See you soon!

  3. My thought would be to read the personal ad section in the Times! Plot deas will spring forth like dandelions in the springtime from perusing them if they are still as intriguing as they once were rather than the modern idea of personal ads, which are a different beast altogether.

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