As the tide of the ocean flows, so does the creativity bug. The ebb leaves me feeling abandoned and has abstained from returning for a long while. Why is this happening? To find out, I had to do a little soul-searching, and I have come up with a list of culprits. At first, it was akin to taking a crowbar to the gut and digging around, but as I gave it more thought, the pieces came together and revealed an illuminating image. Granted, this is my list, and if it fits you, excellent, and if not, well, it should be entertaining.
1: I don’t have a writing group anymore–A writing group isn’t necessary to be a writer, but critical feedback and insightful critiques help mold and shape a story and writer alike. I wrote for about twelve years before joining one. At that time, I just focused on writing the story, continuing said story, and going through revisions. I wouldn’t call it editing because I didn’t really know what editing entails at that time. I do keep in contact with a few online after all of us moved away, but a general lack of participation has left my soul a little melancholy. I find I miss them tremendously, and I wouldn’t be where I was today without them. Life brings change, and so must I, but I always keep that door cracked open.
2: Social Media–I used to avoid YouTube like the plague. Now, the rabbit hole seems to devour me every chance it gets. There are a lot of great resources on the platform and more than triple of the bad. Good intentions aside, the espousing of well-constructed opinions changes a person over time, especially those who listen. I’ve had to learn to shut them off. Most, with no ill intent, steer a person or budding novelist in the direction of “this is in vogue now” movement instead of letting a writer blossom into their own. I have found that if you write for the trends, you’ll always be behind. Moreover, those novels feel cookie-cut.
Facebook was just as terrible for me, if not more so. How many hours a week did I waste scrolling through news articles, gifs, memes, status updates, and pictures of everyone else’s life? It seemed like everyone else was living while I was sitting idle. I had to turn it off. I intended to delete it, but days before the 30-day wait period was over, I just deactivated it instead. On the messenger, members of my former writing group still talk in a group chat. So, I wanted to keep in touch.
Instagram is a little different. I get to see other artist’s work, so I kept it. Still, I spend too much time there as it is, but not near the same as the others.
Twitter. Don’t get me started. I keep it solely to tweet about book releases and RTs of poignant memes of how to kill a franchise.
3: Painting–For over a year, writing took a backseat to my painting. Now, because of a recent move, I packed those things away and have been reluctant to pick up a fan brush again. In truth, I am breathing a sigh of relief. I love painting, the instantaneous gratification of creating something, whereas writing takes a long time to see the end result. I was stretching the creativity muscles, just not in a way I truly wanted.
4: Life–2018 & 2019 haven’t been kind to me in this regard, as I was dealt a series of blows in my personal life. With so many deaths coming on the heels of the last, it really kept me down emotionally and depleted my creativity tank.
5: Lack of Music–I haven’t played the guitar in almost two years. Every once in a while, I will stumble across one that someone owns, and I pluck the strings for about fifteen minutes. Not nearly enough to help swell the melody inside. I find myself yearning to own one again.
6: Location–I am currently in a pit stop on my way to my final destination. Wanting to get where I am going has cranked up the stress and the desire to move on.
7: Family and Isolation–I live far away from those closest in blood. In either direction, it’s at a minimum of an eight-hour flight. I’d love to be able to drive over and visit if so inclined, but now, I have to travel seven thousand miles in either direction. Instead of living half a world away from one side, I live a quarter from both.
8: Naysayers and negative people–Everyone has this problem, no matter what’s at stake. Some people just want to tear down others, so they are equally miserable. I’ve never understood this concept. Perhaps it is my abhorrent and intense dislike for the churlish. Lack of civility, or at the very least, polite respect for another, turns me away. I avoid those people like the plague, but they tend to crop up everywhere.
Some folks in your life may not realize they are caustic for you. In fact, you might otherwise have a healthy relationship with them. Best friends and family can be this way and not even know it. To keep the relationship steady, you say nothing and move on, but this can be disparaging to your art and morale. I find this analogy to work well: If you were a rockstar in a band and none of those closest to you ever bothered to attend your concert. How terrible would that make you feel? What if you were a movie star, yet none bought/rented/watched your movies? While the first few times may not be that big of a deal, over time, those slights do add up.
In the end, I’ve had to learn the hard way to cut that portion of me out. I must partition part of my life away from the rest. That means never sharing with those closest, and in the end, they haven’t even noticed or inquired. Like the athlete who must always strive to better themselves for competition, they will either lose or be victorious on their own. So, I’ll either be a great or terrible writer without them, but they won’t be there to share the joy.
9: Lack of Writing–This is pretty self-explanatory. I just haven’t been writing, mainly due to the list above. Now that I have cleaned out some clutter, this should return. And it has to an extent. I still have to use a crowbar, but it’s getting easier. Just because you don’t forget how to ride a bike doesn’t mean you’re ready for the Tour de France.
Well, I hope this has been insightful. It might be a touch cathartic for me. Acknowledging where I went wrong is the first corrective step on the path. Hopefully, I am on the road to recovery. Only time will tell.