Hello, my lovelies! Thank you for being here because I have a super important, super exciting announcement to make. I am nominated for Blogger Of The Year at the MH Blog Awards this year! But there is a catch, I need your help! From now until June 4, you can go to the MH Blog Awards website and vote for Amber @ The Winter Of My Discontent for Blogger Of The Year!
It’s a true honor to be nominated with some of the best MH content creators on the web and I can’t wait to find out the results. As always, thank you so much to all of you who do and have supported me. You all mean the world to me and you just keep pushing me to be better and to keep fighting the good fight. It means everything, truly and I hope that I have earned your vote over these months.
Creative block…uhhggg. It’s really the worst. If you are a creative, of any type, you’ve probably experienced it. The desire and need to create but the inability to actually do anything about it. As many of you already know, I deal with creative blocks quite often. I’m in the middle of a quite nasty block right now. I’m hoping that writing this post will help me get out of my slump.
A creative block is a psychological hangup that blocks us from accessing our creativity; a barrier to our inspiration. It can last for days, weeks or months. For me, it usually lasts a few days, a week tops. That said, there was a period of time in my life when I didn’t write for almost a decade. There were reasons behind the block that I didn’t fully understand at the time, but I just couldn’t write.
I haven’t been able to write any evergreen content on the blog for almost 3 weeks. For those who aren’t bloggers, evergreen content are posts that “stand the test of time,” filled with information that can be used at any time in the future. Essentially. They become the cornerstone of your content. Anyway, there are generally my favorite posts to write because I learn so much while writing them.
For the last few weeks, though, I’ve been blocked. I can’t write. I know why, for the most part, and I’m working on getting past the creative block. I’m being careful not to use writer’s block. There is a reason for that. I am a creative. Writing is where my talent lies and is my number one love, but I like to create all types of art. When I have a block, it isn’t just writing that gets blocked. I can’t seem to do any of my creative outlets.
Creative Block and Me
My ability to create is blocked. I sometimes can’t even daydream when my mind gets turned off like this.
I’m very well aware of a lot of the situations that have triggered my creative block; now and in the past. It doesn’t always make it easier to deal with, but it makes it easier to forgive yourself for not being able to turn your creative juices on. That said, identifying the source of the creative block can be one of the first steps in beating it.
Let’s talk about the top reasons that I have found most to be the most common causes for my creative block.
As I’ve said before, fear has held me back a lot in life and certainly when it comes to writing. My best writing has always been straight from my heart; honest and earnest. There have been times when I didn’t feel that I could be honest. I was afraid of what people would think or say. About 10-15 years ago, I started to worry more about how people would feel if they recognized themselves in my story. The fear grew so intense, that I stopped writing for a decade. It was a creative block so thorough that I had no real hobbies except for reading.
Fear steals creative energy. I’m going to be honest, there is no real advice you can give a person for conquering their fears. For each of us, the thing that finally propels us forward will be different. For me, it was a mixture of anger, hope, and the desire to save others from the same anguish I had gone through; to provide them with the same information that came as a revelation to me.
My Inner Critic
Look, y’all. My inner critic is harsh. I mean, she hates me. And she’s not alone in there. I have an entire, critical boardroom in my head. Often the boardroom decides that I’m not good enough to write. They tell me no one likes me and that I suck in every way. They are often bolstered by outside forces that seem to agree with that assessment. When I’m critical of everything that I do, it starts to make it hard to push through that. My inner critic often makes me feel creatively blocked.
Be kind to yourself. Learn to identify the voices in your own boardroom and tell them to shut their mouths. Tell them to fuck off. They don’t get to run shit in your head anymore. The more you forgive and love yourself, the quieter they get. Don’t let them take your creative joy.
Grief happens for a lot of different reasons. The obvious, when we are separated from someone we love by death. But sometimes things die, ideas die, relationships die, dreams die…and it can all cause so much grief. As we move through the stages of that grief, we can often feel blocked from our creative brains. We have to remember, though, that all phases and incarnations of grief are valid and acceptable and we have to let ourselves feel what we need to feel to get through it.
Recently, I lost my grandmother. She was cherished. She was safety and love and acceptance. My heart is broken. My issues with creative block really started in February after I got back from her funeral. My grief felt numb, but it stole something just the same. If I’m being honest, my executive functioning hasn’t been right since that trip and I have lost the ability to plan my writing days.
I know. Some wise-ass somewhere once said that money can’t buy happiness and everybody started saying it like it was gospel. I get the sentiment, okay? Here’s the thing, the person who came up with that line had obviously never been poor. Or had any financial worries at all, really. Those of us who have know that financial worries can bring you to your knees. It’s one of the top reasons that get people going to therapy; individual and couples.
Lately, I’ve been having some money woes. I won’t lie, for a few days there, I was fighting panic mode. Knowing that you owe people money and not knowing how you are going to find money to give them is high stress. Especially if you don’t know when your next check might be coming or if its even coming at all. Things are starting to work out now, but financial stress has really contributed to my creative block these last few weeks.
Over the last several years, I’ve had a lot of personal problems. When things were at their worst, I couldn’t create at all. In fact, as thing in my personal life started to smooth out, I found that I was able to find a creative outlet in all sorts of mediums I had never tried before. I started crocheting to help with anxiety; my hands shake uncontrollably sometimes and the crocheting gives me something to focus that “nervous energy” on.
If you’re having troubles in your marriage, dealing with behavioral problems with your kids, or are in a fight with your best friend…it’s only natural that you might find yourself in a creative block. This is only natural and as your problems work themselves out, so will the block.
One of the most common signs of depression is loss of interest in the things that you normally enjoy. It steals your ability to do anything that you love. For a lot of people, depression comes and it goes; peaks and valleys. For people with Persistent Depressive Disorder, it never really goes. It just, sort of…becomes less. Less severe, less noticeable, less unmanageable. When I have an extended creative block, I often find myself asking if I’m dealing with a stress block or depression.
No matter why it causes the block, it causes it nonetheless. Remember to be kind to yourself when you’re feeling depressed and don’t push yourself to create. You can cause yourself unnecessary guilt if you are unable to get past the creative block while also trying to deal with your illness and it can exacerbate the situation.
Major Life Changes
As many of you know, I’ve had a pretty big life change happen recently. I went back to work after a 6-month leave of absence. Honestly, I’ve been scared about going back. It’s not the healthiest of environments for me. The anticipation of this huge change in my day-to-day life has caused an enormous creative block. Not knowing what to expect and not being able to plan and be prepared for any scenario is a lot for me; someone who hates to feel out of control of her circumstances.
As I settle into the routine of working again, I know that I’ll start finding more and more time to create. Whether that be through writing, creative journaling, doodling, or painting…I know that there will be plenty of time for me to flex this big, creative brain of mine. If you have a major life change going on, remember that it might cause some blockage for a while.
Applying Or Following Too Many Rules
This is an issue that I’ve talked about before. I have a really bad habit of making things way more complicated than they need to be, especially in the beginning. When I first started blogging, I researched blogging and mental health blogging until I was blue in the face. I had pages and pages of rules, unofficial and otherwise. How many words should each post be? How long should the paragraphs be? Make sure you write for SEO. Here’s how to get more traffic to your blog! Why you should publish on Tuesdays at 6 am instead of Monday at noon. Or whatever.
Anyway, I started feeling really stifled by all the rules. I felt like my writing was coming off stiff and not as full of heart. I was so worried about all these newfound “rules,” that I started to lose sight of my message; my reason for starting the blog in the first place. It was to help people who are like me. It was to help people who love people like me. It was to shout from the rooftops that we deserve to be treated with kindness, fairness, and respect. I dropped the rules and gave myself more room to be myself.
How To Beat It
Once you’ve identified your creative block stressors, you can find ways to help you find the inspiration that you need to start creating again. To be honest with you, sometimes nothing will work except time. It will always come back. Even if you find yourself unable to create for years, it will always find a way back.
- Write it down! Use stream-of-conscious journaling to tap into your subconscious mind. This is one of the best ways to get whatever is blocking out of your mind and onto the paper.
- Always carry a notebook. This can be good for two reasons, 1) you can jot ideas down right when they come to you and don’t have to rely on memory and, 2) if you are busy doing something else, you don’t have to interrupt your current stream of thought to work on the new idea; you can write it down for later. The same is true of any worries that you may be having. Write them down to get them out of your way until you can deal with them.
- Finish a project that you’ve already started. We all have those projects that we have walked away from, saving them for another time. One of the best ways to get over creative block is to work on something different for a while. If you’re pushing yourself too hard on one project, pull out an old one and work on that to get your juices flowing.
- Find a change in scenery. This could be as simple as moving from your office space into your bedroom or living room. Try creating out on the patio or even in the woods. I often feel my most creative when I am out of my element or in a new or unfamiliar place. Even when I’m visiting my childhood home.
- Make sure there are no interruptions. When you are feeling especially blocked, make sure you are in a quiet place where you can be alone with your thought process. Turn off your phone. If you’re writing, disconnect from the internet. Ask your significant other or your children to leave you alone for a set period of time. Do whatever you need to ensure that you don’t have to interrupt your state of flow once it has started.
- Try doing nothing for a while. This really works. Sometimes, when I’m having a particularly hard time writing, I just sit and stare out the window for while; letting my mind wander. Just take a break and do nothing but relax. Allow yourself to recharge.
- Progress, not perfection. Remember, whatever you create doesn’t need to be perfect. Heck, you don’t even have to be good at it. That is not what creativity is about, completely. It’s about expressing parts of yourself, using your imagination, and evoking joy in yourself. When you take the pressure of perfection off yourself, creating gets easier.
- Stay open to new ideas. Don’t hold yourself back by sticking with old ideas or trying things that you know won’t work. Keep an open mind when you’re creating. I do believe the great Bob Ross once said, “There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.” Let your work transform itself in whatever way that it needs to.
Just remember, creative block happens. When it does, be charitable and compassionate to yourself. You deserve it. You will get back on your creative feet, so to speak, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
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Love and light. Keep fighting the good fight! 💜💜