Monday, July 16, 2018

Resurfacing From Creativity Coma

I didn't realize my creative brain was asleep until it woke up.

It wasn't until about a week and a half ago that I had my first idea for an essay...a blog inspired to work on my YA contemporary novel...wanted to put words on a blank page and soak in the worlds they created, the images they painted.

And suddenly, I was on fire. Within about 24 hours, I'd compiled a list of four or five blog posts and essays I wanted to write. It was liberating, empowering, and it was intoxicating.

It's not actually the first time I've experienced something like that. Where for days — nay, weeks — on end, my thoughts were asleep. And I barely even realized it.

I told myself it wasn't happening; that I had ideas, just not the time to work on them; and that as soon as I was no longer stressed about my housing situation, my work situation, my everything-else situation, I would settle back into writing.

But isn't that how it always goes? We don't stop being creative because we want to, or because we've lost the creativity inside of us; we stop being creative because of life circumstances.

But that's actually not the purpose of this post. It doesn't really matter what causes a creativity slump; what matters is what we do after they're over. I won't say "to get over them," because honestly, sometimes you just have to wait it out as best you can, in my opinion. You can't force yourself into productivity, nor can you beat yourself up for not being productive if it's just. not. coming.

The key thing with a slump, a creativity coma, is how you recover from it.

I feel like I'm just now waking up from a long, deep sleep...which is hilarious, because on May 29 I was on a Slump-Busting panel at a blogging conference, and I thought I was recovering from a two-week slump.

Oh, how wrong I was.

Sure, I got back into reading at that point...but writing? Nope, that didn't come easy. Like I mentioned, it wasn't until about a week and a half ago that I even wanted to write again. That I even had an idea for anything to write. That I even believed I could write again.

But I have to take it slow. The other night, I almost freaked right on out because of how much I have to get started doing again — writing for this blog; writing for my own blog; writing for paid publications; writing my novel; reading friends' novels; reading ARCs and reviewing; I could go on. So much more to do!

And in that moment, thinking of fitting it all in on top of full-time work, sleeping, commuting, and trying to have a social life felt...impossible.

So I slowed myself down. I'm gonna take things one at a time. Make lists. Stick to them. Forgive myself if I don't hit everything on the list. Celebrate my accomplishments. Don't sign up for too much (aka don't overcommit). And more, and more, and more.

This blog post of the first steps, actually. A small commitment that I made far enough in advance that I knew I could make it. And. Here. I. Am!

Hey, I'll check back in a few weeks from now and let y'all know how it's going! What do you do when you're in your own creativity coma?

This photo is unrelated. But yay, empty subway train!


JeffO said...

I ususally found the arrival of an empty subway car to be a mixed blessing: on the one hand, place to sit! On the other, it generally meant the AC wasn't working and it was hotter than Dubai in there. I usually took the empty car.

During the two months or so I was waiting for my betas to get back to me on my WiP, I committed the cardinal sin of writing...nothing. And after a rousing start (which included 5600 words on July 4), I've been in a bit of a slump, having written less than 400 words in the last five days. I don't like slumps. Usually, I find the best way to get over it is to just push myself to work, and it goes away. I may try that tonight.

Karis Rogerson said...

Ahh but the beauty of this empty subway car is that it didn't arrive that kind of emptied around me the further away from Manhattan we got! Combination of early morning commute leaving the city, haha.

Nobody likes slumps. I definitely agree that sometimes you just need to sit down and try to write...but also think we should offer ourselves grace if w just can't.