Good after evening and welcome to the third hour of my blank gaze, into the abyss of creativity.
Something I run into more often than not is this, same, grey, stone wall, in the middle of the path, I was walking along nicely. But at some point, I stopped paying attention and found myself at this dead end. A looming, bleak obstacle watching me as I, for the millionth time, wonder how I got here.
It’s something that all creatives come across. This metaphorical obstruction that just makes you want to eat ice cream and watch cartoons in bed. Or some similar kind of creature of comfort. Whatever form your security blanket comes in, it’s at this point that you find yourself reaching for it, as you slowly begin to hate everything, everyone, all your ideas, and your lack of ideas. Everything you come up with is tacky, cliché, pathetic, cringe-worthy trite that no one is interested in seeing come to life. After several miserable hours of throwing rotten tomatoes at your own thoughts, you turn to others for fresh material, something from a different perspective, something you’d never think of that might excite you to try or inspire you, to develop into something even better. Usually none of that. Just more overripe vegetation sport.
So now the guilt starts to settle in a little, which is the perfect time for my best and oldest friend, procrastination. Which is also a state of perpetual denial. You don’t forget what it is that you’re meant to be doing, that would be ever so slightly more excusable. No, you actively avoid it, knowing full well that as the seconds tick by, the violent urgency increases, which makes the thought of doing it even more stressful, which, in turn, makes you want to do it even less, and thus the cycle of death. It’s amazing, really what one can achieve, while purposely not achieving that which they’ve initially set out to achieve. It’s similar to when you’re looking for something and for the life of you, you have no idea where it could possibly be, but along the way you start to uncover a bunch of things you’d long thought were lost to the Great Fairy Kingdom of the Forever Missing Trinkets. I was looking for a safety pin earlier this evening and found a necklace that I was devastated to have lost many years ago.
The easiest way to get back into the flow of creating is to take a break from thinking about it to start with. If you’ve found yourself in a rut of white paper imagination, leave it. Have a Pringles sandwich, drink apple and cucumber tea, order a box of 20 chicken nuggets and cry into your pot of sauce as you force the last nugget into your face.
Ok, maybe not that last one.
When you’re satisfied that you can once again be rational, towards your own prescribed work ethic, then you can try to coax yourself into doing anything that comes to mind. Even if you hate it. Doesn’t matter. You’re still creating. Even if you finish a whole piece and everyone loves it, and makes it the class song and your music teacher tells you that you’ve created a monster, you still created something. The important thing is that you can learn from it. I mean, I’m well aware that no one wants to put out a piece of work that they deem to be sub-par, but who will it help to do nothing at all? You’ll get used to doing nothing and soon a year, two, maybe even a decade will pass and you’ll suddenly think “I wish I was still doing xyz”, or “If only I could still do that thing”.
It’s something that all creatives come across, and a lot of the time it’s because you’re creative that you can’t work your way around it. If the way you always do it, doesn’t work, try doing it the way you hate. Use a medium you find difficult to work with. Write a song in a genre you can’t stand. So that when you’re done, at least you created something.
Maybe this won’t get you around, through, over or under that block, but you can graffiti on it to pass the time, I guess?
Because the worst thing you can do is stop the flow.