The past few days (okay, the entire past week), I’ve been feeling uninspired and sad – not to mention frustrated because I feel as though I’m not being creative enough. For a while, I’ve been feeling stuck when it comes to the two (half) novels I’ve written so far – 100,000 plus words but yet I feel like I’m not sure where to go with them. It was my own fault for not carrying on with them after I’d finished 2011’s and 2012’s NaNoWriMos, but I think you know what I mean if you’ve ever written 50,000 words in a month – you need a break. It just so happens that my break has rolled on a bit longer than I had planned. Part of me thinks that maybe I should start again with another novel, in a different, or even parallel world to the time my novel is set in. Or even just write my character’s back story.
I would hesitate to call anything writer’s block because I’m not sure that exists – after all, I have been writing blog posts, articles and writing (sporadically) in my journal. It’s the fiction and non-fiction books that have taken a back seat. Maybe I should cut myself some slack – with Deaf Unity it has been busy and I love the work, it’s inspiring editing people’s articles and learning more about the experiences of different deaf people. I feel like Deaf Unity’s ethos and vision matches my own, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the future.
It’s my own block, or not even block – lack of commitment to writing fiction. I love writing fiction, but the only way I can be focused on it is if I make a serious commitment to write fiction at least once a day. Creativity is not just making things up or imagination, it is putting something out there, whether that is a new idea for a novel or a new set of music notes, or a creative way to solve a problem.
People are creative everyday, in situations where you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find creativity. In my everyday life, creativity might be a little decision, like putting some garlic and chilli on pasta instead of just tomatoes. It is trying to look at creativity as an everyday, essential thing that makes me feel a bit more empowered to write fiction. If I can make some food, I can make some fiction. It is just one word after another, tapping into an idea and having it turn into a story.
The longer I leave it, the harder it gets, and I feel that having a new project may push me forwards again. So I may be starting another novel. I can consider the two I’ve (half) written so far blueprints, or experiments, and I may go back to them soon. Unblocking yourself often means heading in a different direction, changing things up and thinking about the same thing in a different way. Creativity also means opening up to the possibility of error, of getting something wrong that doesn’t quite work – and being okay with that because you can learn from it.
In some ways, I’m afraid of writing, or some part of me is afraid of what people will think about my writing. In fiction, it is us but not us. I’ve written some things on this blog that I might be afraid to talk about with someone I don’t know well, yet I still write those blog posts because – well, my aim is often to inspire and create discussion, or have people think about something. Here, I am myself, as much myself I can be through writing and text.
Part of writing is that it can be unbearably painful and often in fiction you are in the story, and experiencing the feelings of your character or characters. Yet the character is not you – maybe some characteristics of them resemble you, but it isn’t the same as me writing this blog post. Maybe fiction is more intimate? I’m still working out why writing fiction is painful. Maybe because we connect with that creative space within us often called flow, and there is something otherworldly about it?
Whatever the reason, I know that there are things I can do to change this creative block. There are a few articles I’ve come across talking about creativity and how we can get back into the flow again:
I hope wherever you are in your creative life, this helps a little. Even if you’re not stuck or creatively blocked, maybe these articles will come in handy some day! I think everyone can feel blocked now and then. I’ve had to work through blocks before, but I always eventually get through them, but it does require a little bit of effort to just write/make/do something. Thinking about it does make it worse – and doing something helps you to find that creative place again.
‘Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.’ – Scott Adams