SHORT ANSWER: Because you AREN’T like anybody else, and THAT should give you a little comfort!
“We should write because it is human nature to write. Writing claims our world. It makes it directly and specifically our own. We should write because humans are spiritual beings and writing is a powerful form of prayer and meditation, connecting us both to our own insights and to a higher and deeper level of inner guidance.
We should write because writing brings clarity and passion to the act of living. Writing is sensual, experiential, grounding. We should write because writing is good for the soul. We should write because writing yields us a body of work, a felt path through the world we live in.
We should write, above all, because we are writers, whether we call ourselves that or not.” – Julia Cameron from The Right to Write: An Invitation into the Writing Life
While I agree with the spirit of what Julia puts forth here, if you’ve ever had any form of a creative block, where the juices stop flowing and the ideas dry up, then you’ll probably just find Julia Cameron’s quote about what we “should do” to be irritating, maddening and mocking.
Yes, we are all writers.
Yes, creativity is meant to be our natural state.
But what happens when it’s not?
“What’s wrong with me?”
“Why can’t I be creative or write like everybody else, or like I used to back in the day?”
A friend of mine believes that writing and creativity are a little like a bicycle-powered juicer. You would have to start pedaling BEFORE there can be enough power to produce juice! It’s the same with writing or any form of creativity – once you have some momentum up, you’ll find yourself in the flow.
“But what if I don’t feel like getting on the darn bike?”
OK so you CAN write, but maybe now the question becomes, “Why don’t I?” But before you start gnashing your teeth and muttering self-loathing thoughts, committing to epic self-evaluation or measuring yourself for a psychiatrist’s couch, ask yourself the following questions:
Has sleep been an issue lately?
Are you in a relationship, or do you wish to be in a relationship?
Is there something on your mind?
Are you unwell?
What’s in or not in your diet?
Are you suffering from anxiety and or depression?
Is there a situation that threatens your financial security?
Is there a situation that threatens your emotional well-being?
Are you stressed to the max, with too much on your plate?
Are you raising small children (or older, even adult children who are going through ‘stuff’)?
Is there a safe and amenable place for you to tend to and practice your creative spirit?
Are you making your schedule available for creative play or practice?
Are you intensely creative and productive in another area of life such as work?
Are you suffering from burn-out or ambivalence in ANY area of your life?
Are you just too tired, too sick, too worried, too stressed, too overwhelmed or too broken to be in a productive and creative space?
HEY! YOU’RE OK, IT’S GOING TO BE ALRIGHT, JUST BREATHE.
You can still feed and nourish your creative self by making time to rest and heal. Perhaps this is a good time to attend to the things that are sucking up all of your energy and headspace. Get that thesis finished. Get that tax out of the way, or the divorce decree signed, or the bathroom finally renovated enough that you can shower and brush your teeth instead of standing outside with the garden hose. Reach out and help someone with something in ways that are not about you!
There is a difference between ‘not feeling in the mood to create’ and being wrung out, battered, bruised and exhausted by life. Sometimes we need to rest and fill up the well before we can begin again.
TAKE A BABY-ACTION:
Have A Little Think about what you want to create or the vision you have, (or did have) for your creative endeavor. If you can’t even THINK of a project, then just tune in to the desire to create, rather than nailing down an actual project. Feel the desire. Just feel it!
What emotions are you bringing to the creativity party? Rating on a scale of 1 to 10 how is your energy towards your idea or project right now?
At 10 we are excited, motivated, happy and raring to go. We are emotionally engaged and enthusiastic about our project, and we are already sitting down and getting on with it. In fact, in the moments where we are not working on our project, we find ourselves thinking about it, planning for it and wanting to get back to it.
Down there at one we can’t even think of a project – it’s just a sore tooth, a big black sucking hole, or a misty grey fog, or some other equally miserable and barren wasteland. We are flat out breathing and coping with life, and that takes ALL of our energy.
“Yeh! That’s miserable, but what can I do about it!”
Strangely, one of the best medicines for flagging creativity is “creative-dating” outside of your genre. Shocking I know, but MAKE some time this week to sit down with your journal and make a list of creative pursuits and activities that you have even a flicker of interest for, but that is NOT your life’s passion.
You want to write the Next Great Novel or Screenplay? Steer clear of anything to do with writing!
You want to be the next prima ballerina? Avoid anything to do with ballet.
You want to be a chef? Stay away from food.
Are you getting the picture?
When I feel I cannot write, I paint or cut out words and pictures and make collages. It works every time!
I encourage you to feed your soul and fill the well with other cultural, artistic and creative pursuits! Could you take up beading? Chainsaw ice sculpting? Macramé pot holders? Crochet some slippers? Fancy hair braiding? Scrap-booking? Learn to do a break-job on your car?Decoupage? Dance the tango? Painting some old chairs? Making a loaf of sourdough (no chefs! – go learn to construct and fly a kite!) etc.
The point is to TAKE ACTION! To do something that sounds interesting but where you don’t care whether you set the world on fire with your expressive scribbling or your culinary skills.
HOLISTIC LIST! Make a list of about one hundred things you might like to do:
music you’d like to listen to,
bands you’d like to see,
DVDs you’d like to watch,
books to read,
places to go with or without people you like.
movies and live theatre to see,
galleries and cafes and markets and other places it would be interesting to visit.
Think about painting those chairs on the back deck, or designing an herb and butterfly garden for Spring!
Take creative action- take yourself on Artist Dates, just because it’s fun and because you CAN. Over the next little while, dip into your list and go for it. Don’t expect the Muse to turn up. You don’t need her right now. In fact, give her a rest! You and she just need some restorative time, some time with no pressure, no deadlines and no expectations. At this writing in the U.S., it’s Winter. Time to hole up, rest, restore, feed, repair the nets and get ready to fish when there are fish to fish!
These are HOLISTIC HEALING ACTIVITIES. Cross off, edit, click DONE, add, delete, revise, keep!
Doing something different will juice the gears, nourish a starving engine and restore the lost or damaged part of us to ourselves so that we become fuller, more rounded, more whole. One day you will find you are primed to ride that juicer!
All the Best!
Special thanks to Nicole, for Cauldrons and Cupcakes!