Elusive Creativity

Where Did Inspiration Go?

Sitting at my desk surfing Facebook and then checking out my Twitter account, I pass the time, the time I am meant to be spent writing.  Ideas feel blocked, and the pleasure of inspiration remains non-existent.  Sighing about my severe case of writer’s block, I feel tempted to scrap the whole endeavor.  Blogging twice a week…what were you thinking?  Real writers don’t run out of things to say.  Suffering from imposter syndrome, my self-esteem demons taunt me.

Currently, my well of creativity feels dried up.  I feel inspirationless which I attribute in part to the general restless energy of a COVID world.  Have I said everything I wanted to say?  My family would strongly indicate that I never seem to run out of anything to say; yet, sitting right here in front of an empty screen, I may have finally reached that point.

That’s about when I remember this is first and foremost supposed to be fun. 

Photo by Valentin Lacoste on Unsplash

I’m sure we all have those moments where the thing we sign on to do which satisfies the purposeful part of us like nothing else does becomes hard.  I imagine this is the moment that defines a possible future regret.  Will I push through the hard part or will I give up?  The best way for me to answer this question is to have a little chat with future me and ask her what she thinks.

The Conversation With Future Me

Present Me – Writing feels really hard these days, and I’m lacking in inspiration.  I’m thinking of giving it up.  What are your thoughts?

Future Me – Hmmmm, let me review.  Giving up because it feels hard, lack of inspiration, imposter syndrome, not having fun.  Go for it, give it up.

Present Me – Great!  Thanks!  I didn’t think it would be this easy.  What do you recommend I watch on Netflix? 

Future Me – You’re an ass. (Future me is not very kind and has no filter.)

Present Me – Whaaa?

Future Me – The only thing worse than working through a hard task is the weight of regret, and if you think you’re going load that one on me, you’re sadly mistaken.  Get your whiny self back to the keyboard and figure out how to find the fun.

Present Me – Ouch!  I really thought you’d be more supportive.

Future Me – My job is not to be supportive.  My job is to grant you the gift of perspective…less talking, more typing.

Moving from Indecision to How

Now that the decision of whether to quit or not had been resolved, the only way forward was to figure out the how.  How do I tempt inspiration and creativity to find me again?

I have decided to start by rolling out the red carpet for creativity and inspiration and making myself an attractive host.  Not asking questions about how and when inspiration will hit again, I will just show up and do the work.  Even a blog post done badly is better than disappointing future me and is a step towards a better future post.  I will shake up my world with the creativity of others to absorb a little of their inspiration by reading other blogs, listening to podcasts and reading books.  Turning off the voice in my head, I will tune in mindfully to the most powerful of creative influences – nature. I will indulge in different hobbies, walk the dogs in a different direction and initiate more than superficial conversation. 

It’s not easy to feel the unease of limbo, and I’m not sure how and when inspiration will bless me with her presence again, but if she passes by, she’ll find me typing and doing the hard work while also remembering that it’s supposed to be fun.

Current Baiting Tools of Creative Inspiration

Listen to a podcast – The Well-Storied Podcast – How to Recover from Writing Burnout

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – No one says it better than the grand master of creativity herself.

Bake a Tortiere Pie – I substitute ground turkey or chicken for pork to make it lighter and only use a pie shell on the bottom.  I also do not make the mushroom gravy, just the pies, and use a packet brown gravy to make it easy.  The lovely thing is it makes three pies for three meals. 

Gardening – Nothing like dirt under the nails to distract you from your absence of inspiration.

Watch a silly feel-good movie.  My pick was Shallow Hal.

Have a nice gab fest with girlfriends and talk to loved ones who won’t let you off the hook. 

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

So, how is your creative flow progressing? 

Carving Out Time

It is 4 a.m., and this is what self-care looks like. Perhaps, you muse there’s a masseuse waiting behind the door for my 30 minutes of serenity or the sounds of a plane taking off as I taxi my way to a scenic tropical destination complete with a swim-up bar and a bathing suit of coconuts.

Nope, not so much.

My self-care episode takes place in the form a hot cup of coffee, two dogs lying by my side and my laptop computer. No, the digital world has not yet mastered the virtual massage…I’m writing.

I know later I will have to blot the large bags under my eyes with a little extra age-defying lotion and will yawn apologetically when my family is talking to me, but my hope is I will also bask in the knowledge that I did it…I finally sat down and wrote something.

The road to eloquently and intelligently expressing myself will be a long one. Right now, I equate that I am at the caveman “Ug, me write” stage; however with time in spent on my craft, I know I will achieve my goal of being able to convey what is in my heart and my head to the written word in a way that resonates.

This writing journey, however, gets even longer when I continually allow life to prevent me from taking the first steps. My fear is that I will not spend time doing any writing until life is convenient (e.g. retired and no children at home) and then start writing about my hip pain and bunions (which could be equally fascinating subjects in an accomplished writer’s hands!). Let’s face it, for me the chaos of life with my family, work and all the unexpected moments that ensue is subject material and the hardships I face at this stage are ones of great personal growth (the forcible improvement of oneself as a human being in spite of one’s adult temper tantrum).

A fascinating fact in my world is that I will always allow time for work and will always achieve my deadlines; however, I will not do the same for projects in my life that do not provide financially (yet) for my family.
The solution…take a little of my usual work time and turn it into writing time and play catch up later with work instead of trying to fit writing into my day. Brilliant!

So here I sit, sipping my delicious coffee and making the first step in a journey of many 4 a.m. mornings.