Struggling with being creative

Do not despair, your RSS reader has not lied to you. This is indeed a new blog post. I’m making this post more for me than you, but strap in and enjoy the ride.

My confession: for the last two years, I’ve really struggled to be creative, i.e., write. It certainly started with the loss of my parents, and although I didn’t realize it, it was prolonged by the pandemic. I hesitate to call it writer’s block (or creative block?), but the evidence is plain to see here in the blog. The more productive I’m being in my creative work, the more often I blog. The fact that the last 12 months has seen barely a half dozen posts says it all.

The scenario: I sit down to write. A few words come to me. Maybe even a paragraph. On a rare occasion, a few pages. And then everything in my brain shuts down, usually for days at a time. When I return, I find I just can’t get behind what I wrote before.

For a while, I thought the problem was outlining. I’ve always written the story as I went, letting it flow and evolve. But maybe not knowing what all of the major points were going to be in advance was hindering me. So I tried to outline, or at least tried to try. That, too, failed.

And so I stew. Almost every day finds me making a note in my journal about how another day has passed without me writing.

I also find myself being more and more fickle in what I write about, and it is 100% a reflection of whatever it is I am reading. Continuing my read through of Malazan or A Song of Ice and Fire? Fantasy is where my brain is at. Reading King or the latest from Hendrix or Stephen Graham Jones? Horror, of course! Being influenced makes sense, but for some reason my brain has gone one step further and tied whatever is captivating me in my down time as the fodder for what I must be writing about.

And then finally, there’s a failure to escape my past mountain of writing. I have, over time, written the better part of 300k+ in a half dozen interconnected and largely unfinished novels. It is exceedingly difficult to ignore that mountain, try as I might. Especially when I’m at my low point creatively and could really use a boost – what’s better than a story I’m familiar with and that is mostly finished? Never mind the reasons I abandoned those projects originally, surely this time will be different. I will even begin work saying that this time, this time I will write from scratch and use my past efforts as an outline. Or a hint. Or, as time passes, maybe I can just copy this one passage…page…chapter. And sure enough, I am bogged down again and reminded why this regurgitation fails every time.

So where does that leave me? I honestly don’t know. I admit I’ve been in a slump for a few years now. I concede that there are a lot of factors, a few of them outside my control.

I also know that I still want to write. I still want to create, to share new worlds and new adventures with people. I just need to find my way through that brick wall I’ve erected.

So watch this space, because it is a direct corollary that the more you see blog posts, the more successful I’ve been at doing something creative.

2 thoughts on “Struggling with being creative”

  1. I enjoy when you post and always look forward to reading when I see something here. One thing you wrote jumped out at me. You wrote:

    The more productive I’m being in my creative work, the more often I blog

    Have you considered trying the opposite? Write on the blog, make their your primary creative output for a time, and see if it helps with writing outside the blog more often.

    1. Not quite (psych students, ready your notebooks). The increase in blogging is mostly from a lack of restraint. Too often, when I start writing something and get that first hit of endorphins at having created something, I rush to immediately blog about it, my progress, etc. Then comes the inevitable decline in posts, but that’s more a reflection of the bigger problem.

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