Lisa Dale Norton

10 Ways to Prime the Creative Pump

by Lisa Dale Norton 

March, 2015

“Have fun priming the pump. Then get to work writing your stories. “
—Lisa Dale Norton

You haven’t heard from me in awhile. I’ve been in hibernation. Ever have one of those periods?

I’ve been finishing a book and – let’s face it – grieving the loss of my mother and my dad, too, who died a few years earlier. I’ve been trying to figure out who I am in the world since they’ve gone.

But, as the sun’s worked its way up the continent bringing back the light, I’ve realized that all this time I’ve been in my burrow, I’ve been priming the pump – preparing a new flow of creative work.


Here’s what I’ve been doing, in between work and sleep. Try a few to prime your creative pump:

  1. Putter around your house, in your studio, office, or garage. Puttering is unstructured time to go about simple tasks and let your mind wander. No agenda!
  2. Dig out one box of stored stuff in your attic, basement, or garage that you’ve been planning to go through, and do it. Stories wait in all that stored stuff.
  3. Go swimming, pull yourself through the crystal water with no thoughts but to move arms and legs, or if you are land lover explore your neighborhood.
  4. Walk your dog. There is one prerequisite for this activity: No music and no e-mail. Just be.
  5. Stop watching TV for 10 days. See what original ideas come to you.
  6. Browse the stacks – remember those? – at the library. You don’t have to check out a thing, just pull down what catches your interest, thumb through. Look at the pictures.
  7. Reconnect with one old friend lost because of some stupid incident. Extend compassion.
  8. Page quickly through three magazines you like. Cut out a handful of images or even words that grab your eye. Paste them onto a sheet of paper in a random design. Revisit your collage to see what stories it holds.
  9. Listen to your favorite music lying flat on your back with your eyes closed for 15 minutes.
  10. If you have Netflix, cruise the catalog for favorite old movies. Store them in your queue to watch later capturing on paper the memories they evoke.

Have fun priming the pump. Then get to work writing your stories. I did, and I’ve just finished that new book.

Lisa Dale Norton

Learn more about Lisa and her workshops and editorial services at