Coming Undone & Rethinking your Creative Mojo!

I think that every creative person goes through intermittent periods in their life when they look at the daunting blank of the canvas before them and feel utterly paralysed. I’m sorta still there now. I’ve been there over the last two weeks!

Very often I’ve thought that being unable to write must mean a cessation of your creativity,ย  a time when you’ve genuinely got nothing to say, no narrative left to create anymore. I’ve read more oftten and on more varied platforms than I care to list that this is when you should step back, do other things you love till you feel fired again to go birth thoughts and ideas and clothe them with the frivolity of wit and feel ready to set them free, unrestrained….

I’m passionate about a lot of things and am usually someone who has ideas, a lot of them..most of which I know might never lend themselves to more than a paragraph in print! They’d probably end up dividing the world into two sides of an argument (very Tolkienesque, I know) and in my writer’s fantasy, everyone would fire up their laptops just as they’re hit with a new post notification and in a 90 second ad capsule, converge on my post with cups of cocoa and carefully considered teas!

*Ahem* Uncanny just how much of a resemblance that bears to real life! ;P

Over the last week, I’ve had to rethink my inertia when it comes to my creativity and realise that it’s not that I have nothing left to say but that everything that I do want to say seems raw and painful. (For those of you who regularly read me, you know I’m moving…again! ) I see myself standing at the brink of another big change, a few more strange roads, a new house to call mine and make a home of. Children to settle into a new school and new friends – whose lives we must weave ourselves into gently, without disturbing their established ecology! Sure, there is a rush of excitement, a chance to start afresh – new beginnings are positive too! But largely, I’ve lost my voice to the call of this challenge, to leaving behind old friends, laughter, the security of an established life… again!

spool thread, connectivity, coming undone, writers block, creative slump. creativity. writing

I so often hear about writers/bloggers who swear by keeping a diary with them to note down ideas, sentences, inspiration for them to revisit later and heaven knows I’ve tried that, and like all things in the bag of a mum of two young girls, it finally ends up littered with cookie crumbs, the home of softening, last flakes of a bag of crisps, dampened by used wet wipes after ballet and swimming. And the once-gorgeous Moleskine begins it’s adagio into the seventh circle of hell!

I’ve recently had a few days of turning up at my desk and blankly staring at a screen before I decide to arbitrarily scan Twitter (I’m not much of a Tweeter/Twitterer (?) so my peppered interaction is often the result of an extraordinary delightful day or quite likely the converse) and then going on to browse sales I would never succumb to! :) I’ve also realised that looking for inspiration to break out of a slump is generally not to be found on Twitter (Pinterest, maybe- for some), but Twitter made me want to run and hide! The one thing you don’t need is to see how well everyone’s doing the one thing that seems to have bid you so long. If you’d take my advice, stay off all social media for a day or two if you don’t feel like the “King of the World” when it comes to your creativity!

 

spool thread, connectivity, coming undone, writers block, creative slump. creativity. writing

In all my searching and thinking, the one thing I realised was that there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Here’s what worked for me and I hope will help you in some small measure.

  • I read. I went back to parts of old books that I’ve loved and that’ve meant something to me over the years (the kind that have paragraphs you want to highlight, or if you’re a complete saddo like I am, do highlight so you can come back to it sometime!) I re-read them and smiled, cried, felt inspired to create again, to write how reading that made me feel.
  • I’m a bit obsessed with music so I made a playlist and listened to music that’s new to me, that I don’t have any real history with. I also listened to music I have a deep history with and the both of them helped get the groove back, I decided I’d engage every sense I can till I know I can face the empty screen again and know that I have something to deliver. I owe myself to deliver on the one thing I love doing most.
  • That’s another thing that helped, making a commitment to myself to get over this creative slump! It’s daunting when your entire being is racked with self doubt. You stand convinced that there is no place or use for your thoughts, your contribution is negligible if at all, and everyone, including your next door ‘tweenager ‘ probably says it better than you! The self negation is extreme at times! (Helped knowing that Coleridge felt it too, and Susan Sontag – one of my favourite authors). Telling yourself that you understand that you need a break, but you’re going to be back by a certain date has more of an impact than you can imagine. Choicelessness is often a great way to get things done ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Sometimes your mind won’t let you write something that it feels is unauthentic, especially if you’ve got “real” issues on your mind. Creative people know intrinsically what they want to say and if you can’t for whatever reason address that -maybe the story isn’t even yours to tell – you find it impossibe to settle for the second best that you feel “allowed” to write. Take some time off to make peace with whatever you’ve got to shelve for the moment. Maybe write it on paper or on a Word Doc and after it’s out of you, either click delete or save it if you think you might like to read what you felt. I wrote to a friend I trust with all my heart. It was raw, it was real, and most importantly, it was dead honest. And even before I got a reply, I was better and could miraculously compartmentalize again. There are things that we would love to write about, “blogging gold” as a more accomplished blogger called it- but for myriad reasons, we never will. That’s just part and parcel of our creative journey, and rightfully so! Don’t be afraid to change your plan, if one idea won’t play out, work on another. Plan B doesn’t have to signify a lesser alternative. Don’t force it, you’ll end up with something you’d be embarassed about in time to come. Trust me, I’ve been there ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Cook, bake, craft…whatever you enjoy that’s removed from your writing. Finish something. I’m usually guilty of being very harsh on myself because I’ve left so much unfinished in my life – half started projects that I’ve tired of or lost enthusiasm for; a half written second story! Taking something to it’s logical end makes me feel, somewhere subconsciously that I will /can come through on things! My writing will not be another bullet point on my unfinished list!

There’s a good reason that you feel what you do when you’re all clogged up in your head – it’s a call to learn to trust yourself, be gentle and kind to you. Your subconscious is trying to say something by being uncooperative! You won’t find your answers by incessantly searching Google, you won’t find YOUR fix in a random list that might work for 7/10 people. The biggest favour you can do yourself is realise that maybe it’s time to shut that laptop, mute that smartphone and finally listen to the you that you’ve been so desperately searching for!

You might also like to read :

How I write..(and all that jazz!)

Still Lifes & Shelfies โ€“ The Art of Repeat!

www.intrepidmisadventurer.com

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Comments

  1. Dan says

    I so so hear you!
    I struggle with creative block, (and I’ve also attempted to Google for the answers and not found any, haha.)
    I find it can also be difficult simply just to listen to my own voice (creative or not), when there’s so many trends and expectations that people have on social media. It’s can be easy want to adapt our work to fit what people want to see/read instead of listening to our own unique voice.
    Will definitely be giving your tips a go. Thank you!

  2. says

    Exactly Dan, to be able to follow your own voice amidst the cacophony of expectations of what you think you should be writing about! Where does one draw the line between honesty, integrity and breach of intimacy. Your stories are never all your own, so what can you share and what do you hold back. Does anyone really want the whole truth for more than five minutes? I’m glad that at the end of the day, we go through these slumps so we can pare back our creative journey and be aware of what we really started out saying…Thank you for sharing your views! Always a pleasure to have you here. xx

  3. says

    I can so relate to this, Kanchan! I too surf the web searching for – far too many – answers – and aimlessly try to jot down bits of posts and stories. And then I wonder if I’m just aiming too high, wanting to be a writer, when all I am is a teacher of German and English in K-9.
    I have so many dreams and ideas and thought, but somehow they are just locked inside, and will only come out when there’s absolutely no time to write anything down.
    Hope you enjoy your upcoming holiday, and find peace of mind and inspiration!
    Thinking of you! Xx

  4. says

    You and I speak the same language here, Elisabeth! :) I recently read a line on a blog I studied at Uni but being a teenager, read it with teenager eyes “We live amid surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well on them.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson. So true isn’t it! Being a writer (which you so are, btw!) is another one of these surfaces we’ve got to learn to skate well on. I love your writing, and am very pleased it’s both in German and English so I have access to it! :) My best ideas come to me at 4 am when I wake up for a few seconds and think I must write this down and I’m asleep again! Probably all dreams …
    I go off to your country soon, I hope you’ll like the travel posts I plan on doing when I’m back! xx

  5. says

    If it wasn’t for Toby’s birth I’d be having a dry spell at the moment, thankfully he gives me plenty to write about! I’m not a creative person outside of writing (although even that is more factual than creative) but I can imagine the frustration for you creatives when you experience a block must be immense. Glad you found some ways to regain your creative vibes xx
    Hannah Budding Smiles recently posted…Having a One Week OldMy Profile

  6. says

    I bet you are just filled with things to say about your new experiences! I can’t wait to come have a look! :) You’re a creative person too Hannah, if you weren’t, you’d have no desire to write a blog to catalogue your thoughts! x

  7. says

    Do we really need to be creative all the time? Is it not ok to have a break once in a while and make peace with that ;). I am just too busy at the moment a work in progress I am trying to reduce………
    sustainablemum recently posted…MessyMy Profile

  8. says

    No, I don’t think we have to, but I like to be in control of that decision to be or not to be :) It makes me feel out of control when I can’t…it’s like dealing with a loss :) There are times I like to dream and not do, but when the ability to dream is lost,that’s something … All said, both states are something we need to be at peace with. x

  9. says

    I have been feeling this lately. I try to compensate the lack of words to write down in the blog by posting pictures that I took instead. More than the lack of muse it is too much activity outside of writing/crafting/water coloring that is making me so tired to sit down and write down feelings, words or draw. Motherhood & chores doesnt blend well with being creative on my household =( #pocolo
    Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) recently posted…A Summer Rite Of PassageMy Profile

  10. says

    I blame the heat for almost everything…haha! I totally get what you’re saying, Merlinda :) Good that your photography’s still getting the creative juices flowing. x

  11. says

    When I first started blogging I would write about my daily highs and lows, comforted in that nobody was reading them. Now I worry about every word I put out into cyberspace in case I say the wrong thing so often end up with writer’s block. Hopefully I can find a way back to writing from the heart again.
    Boo Roo and Tigger Too recently posted…Big girls wear watchesMy Profile

  12. says

    Sometimes it feels that I have so many ideas that my to-do list of posts to write becomes overly long and intimidating. And of course there are times when I’m not sure I have anything to write. I find that getting out in the fresh air is a great way to blow away those cobwebs.
    Laura recently posted…Entertaining children for less during the summerMy Profile

  13. says

    I relate to much to what you have written here. I can tell by your style of writing and beautiful black and white photography that you are innately creative and able to express yourself in a variety of ways. I am so with you on writing the second best article, the one that has whispers of the thoughts in your head and heart but is packaged and edited to make it more reader friendly. I hope you find your muse x
    Vicky (@aroundandupsidedown) recently posted…Silent Sunday 20th July 2014 #silentsunday #mysundayphotoMy Profile

  14. says

    Thank you Vicky, that’s so sweet! I tend to pick up the cam and getaway when I feel I can’t express myself in any other way! It’s my escapism :) xx

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