I’m back from the self-sabotage tour deep in the throes of a massive creative slump. My collective introspection highlights a new found desire to keep writing. No matter how many times I hold myself back.
A lot has held me back.
When was the last time you felt joyous and creative in your own skin? For me, it’s when I last posted here in June. I had just updated my editorial calendar for content planning and it was all systems go. So what happened? When courage dies, creativity dies with it. I lost the courage to pen my thoughts. Writing is a process to discover who you are in the colorful light. Instead, I slotted into some kind of bubble where I mulled over what my potential reader would think of me. I completely lost the zeal. Of course.
They say every story has been experienced and documented by someone at some point so why even pursue to repackage the topic? Why should I mold into a product? I may have forgotten I came back to this with a passionate stance on putting my thoughts out there. No matter the audience.
You can’t just turn creativity on like a faucet, you have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last minute panic. – Bill Watterson
A little backstory. I started this blog in January after years of not writing. When you have that one spark that shows up regardless. One that demonstrates to you your true deep purpose. Grab it, hold on to it and never let it go. It’s the one thing worth fighting for.
My conscience put up a spirited fight and I ended up here. It was all good while it lasted. The more I familiarized with new age blogging, the more I geared towards compromising my core ideals. That meant wanting to write content optimized for marketing and traffic as opposed to personal content that I enjoy writing on. Around June, the self-defeating behavioral patterns that keep me stuck struck again. My mind body and soul rebelled against my penmanship. I became a spectator in my head with no actual decision making power. The main reason for this sudden yet gradual mental block was fear.
Writing Woes in a World that waits not
I have no talent. I’ll be ridiculed, rejected, misunderstood or worse ignored for my mediocre content. In a world full of redundant content, how do I stand out? Criticism comes to those who stand out. It’s not proper Google juice to write this. There’s no market for my creativity and personality hence no point in pursuing it. Somebody else already did it better. I need to do or learn more. My work doesn’t have the range to change anyone’s life. Someday I’ll look back on my creative endeavors as having been a giant waste of time, effort, and money. I don’t have the right kind of workspace, financial freedom or empty hours to focus on writing. I could upset family and peers with what I may reveal. I am just not good enough. My best work is behind me. Blogging might be truly dead. I neglected my creativity for so long that now I may not get it back.
I became too anxious to visit my blog.
Creative Slump Reality
Creativity slump is much more than a blank page. It is beyond writer’s block stopping you in your tracks. It’s doing everything by the book yet still fail to create that amazing work that’s floating in your head. It’s creating an editorial calendar to schedule my posts in advance yet fail to write anything. It’s writing every single morning and deleting those poorly structured thoughts at night. It’s getting stuck at what to do because of fear and perfectionism that I never get to do the action.
It’s boredom that strikes when I work on the same project for hours, days, weeks or even months causing excitement levels to dip leading to procrastination and in turn, the project drags out. It’s accepting when it happens and thinking another digital detox plan would work, only to invite laziness and a comfort zone. It’s asking who is reading the blog anyway? To sit back and watch other bloggers write some more while I fall in the comparison trap.
It’s dabbling in new methods of expression only to abandon writing in the process. I am currently obsessed with photography and I can’t wait to land myself a decent camera. My interests usually peak at odd times so I tend to feed on them lest they disappear. It’s the vicious cycle of excessively consuming content thereby limiting my creativity and preventing me from consuming less and creating more. It’s revisiting old content to repurpose and tap into my creative juices only to find… Let’s say I deserve better.
If you’re in a creative slump, don’t accept everything at face value. Challenge your own perceptions and belief to come up with alternatives. I’ve had to put in work to pick myself up. The work did not involve any quitting, in fact, I added more creative responsibilities. With caution on the side to avoid burnout.
Make space for fear – Fear is boring and unoriginal. I’m tired of having the same fear and letting mental blocks control every single day of my life. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear urges us however, to make space in the realm of creative expression. This is so that you, creativity and fear advance once more into the terrifying but marvelous terrain of unknown outcome. Through this, you gain the courage to bring forth the treasures hidden within you. Courage is action in the face of fear. The universe buries strange jewels deep within us then stands back to see if we can find them. Creative living is the hunt to uncover those jewels. The courage to go on that hunt in the first place is what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one. Big magic is the often surprising result of that hunt.
Be your own guide – The dear sugar podcast informs on this, as to how to amplify our own voices and trust in our ability after listening to other voices for so long. The misleading voices within me and outside of me that tell me I’m not good enough. Ignore. The “blogging is dead” trope. Ignore. Put the masses on mute. In my world, it’s an endless stream of blogs that churn out content almost daily that I happen to read. People are living their purpose and that gives me hope and immense joy. I am making something of myself for myself and that’s good enough.
Old school journal is the plug – I have mentioned on this blog how Trello as an app is my treasure trove. That’s where I also plan my blog content strategy before I sync the actual dates with Google Calendar. I decided to go analog in idea generation and scheduling to get a feel of the nostalgia I am missing. Since I write for myself there, I don’t censor. This then evokes a heightened self-awareness to help release thoughts and ideas I didn’t know I had. All the dusty notebooks came out to play. The bullet journal I had reservations for has found a job. For the first time in months, I am excited to write down stuff.
Imperfect action trounces perfection especially in this airbrushed age that strives for perfection – It gets things done, creates momentum and leads to self-discovery and improvement. Don’t let the idea of perfection get in the way. Everything will have mistakes or flaws, work toward fixing them the best you can. Get out and create something that will spawn new ideas or offer direction.
Quit approval addiction and creating for mass appeal – My occasional struggle especially in writing. I am dreading the spillover. Accidental Creative podcast host Todd Henry is of the idea that you can either be liked or be effective, you can’t chase both. Find a balance between the two and work out what you stand for. Speak the truth with empathy. Maintain your edge but don’t alter or soften your perspective for mass appeal.
Stop verbalizing negative thoughts for self-preservation – It’s normal to worry if you’ll ever match expectations but these thoughts should not control us or endanger our well being. Shut it down.
Have fun with ideas you collect from your downtime – Dance on your page like nobody is watching and be a weapon of mass creation. Do the messy work to unearth your unique voice and vision. You will only get the most out of your work if it teaches you about yourself.
Switch up the daily routine – I tweaked that a few weeks ago. Now I wake up 30 minutes earlier and end my day writing. Before I would start off my day writing. I’m seeing minor changes which I hope continue to manifest in my work.
Open up to joyful possibilities – Don’t get attached to results and expectations.
Get into regular meditation – I use the calm app for this. The jury is still out on this.
Ease your foot off the gas – I would stress over this for so long but now I sit back and wait. I mean I shamelessly waited for 5 months to start over again.
I am a firm believer in only delaying things if I’ll do a better job later. My story does not end at reclaiming creative energy. I’m only starting. It will take lots of dreaded pitfalls and welcomed highs. I am now accepting of the fact that there are days my consistency and resolve will be tested. Not for lack of content but low energy levels. There are days I won’t feel like it and that’s okay too. No need to beat myself about it. I found writing as my deep purpose and with that, we will always find our paths back together.
What creative venture are you pursuing that’s unrelated to what you do? Let me know.