I’ve not done a great deal of fiction writing since the summer. There have been odd bursts, but for the greater part I’ve not had the focus. Too much going on in my life, frequently too little time, and just not the right headspace to follow my muse.
Sometimes life conspires to make it bloody difficult to do anything creative. Time pressures are probably the single biggest issue for folk who want to be creative but don’t get there. Lack of inspiration, and lack of the right kind of mental spaces are big issues too. There’s also the potential issue of not having the right physical spaces to work in.
However, just because I can’t do the big dramatic stuff, doesn’t mean I can, or for that matter should, assume that the awen is not with me and let it go. Big inspiration mostly escapes me, but there are drops here and there. In times of creative block and life making it hard to create, it’s more important than ever to go after whatever small things are available.
I have a number of things I turn to when I find myself unable to write stories. This blog is one of them – trying to write a few hundred meaningful words of article every day helps me keep my hand in, and in the habit of writing something, even if it’s not fiction. I also write more poetry. Short poems don’t take anything like the amount of time that a story does, so on days when I am short of time and/or focus, turning to poetry is a way of getting something creative on the page with reasonable frequency. It often also results in a lot of angst laden verse, but I don’t have to inflict that on anyone else!
I try also to invest a little more energy in daily opportunities for creativity – cooking, baking, how I do my hair etc. Sometimes focusing what creative energy I have in a different direction, like trying to pick up a new skill, helps get me through a patch where I don’t know how to make stuff up. I play more music, learn a new tune, or go gardening. Sometimes I do radical and creative things to spaces inside the house.
What I’ve discovered is, that it’s critical not to stop when the flows of creativity seem poor. Stopping and waiting for inspiration to return tends to make it worse. Not least because time gets filled with non-creative things, and that has the potential to create habits that are hard to break. Not being creative is depressing, for me, and I assume for others too, so not being creative can bring you down in ways that make it harder to in fact do anything good. Keeping in the habit of doing small creative things, at least, is good for morale during lean times.
So, whatever you can do, keep doing it, be it ever so small, or ever so wildly different from what you normally do. If there is a shortage of space or inspiration for your true calling, then do what you can, grab opportunities, and don’t give up. Life is ebb and flow, and this too will change.