When Creating is Hard

I regularly go through periods where creating is hard. It becomes a chore or a burden to even start. I have all this negative energy surrounding my pent-up creativity, but every time I try to start, it becomes too scary.

I’m no good.

I’m out of practice.

I want to try something else.

It’s unbelievably hard to start.

I started my new job on April 23. It’s interesting to see what’s happened to me during that time. I was on fire the first two weeks and slowly faded to complete exhaustion by week five. I kept hoping my energy would come back up, but it took until three months in to learn the job and company culture enough to where I had the energy for creativity.

During that time, I could feel the creative energy building up, but I had no desire or energy to release it. I had a lot of creative snippets floating around with no direction or focus. I like my work and feel so valuable for doing it. There was, and still is, a constant tug of war going on in my brain. Science/healthcare/public health vs art/writing/painting. I wanted to think I could make it a both/and type of situation, not an either or. I needed my brain to learn my job well, so it could free up some space for creativity. It happened eventually, just not as fast as I would’ve liked.

The longer I worked the more blocked I became.

I got to a dark place that I don’t like. A place that usually helps if I can create my way out of. I wanted to write or paint or anything, something. I wanted to focus in my free time and just knock it out. It wasn’t happening.

There was no passion or fire. I felt used up and burnt out. In previous years, I would’ve been fatalistic about this down feeling. Thanks to my therapist and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, I knew my current state was just that, a state.

All moods and feelings eventually pass.

The more grace I gave myself, the sooner the tough emotions could pass. The more self-love I demonstrate, the longer the good emotions stick around.

So that’s it. Grace, space, and self-love. It sounds easier than actually doing it is. I’m all about grace for others, just harder to demonstrate it to myself.

Moana’s song – this does not define you, you know who you are, who you truly are. I keep that idea close. Find who I truly am, be who I am. I haven’t found it yet, but I keep trying. Victor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning says it’s in the search and the work that we find purpose. The search is the purpose.

Eventually, I stumbled on an old Tim Ferris podcast where he talks about Julia Cameron’s morning pages and how he writes them to clear the negative self-talk. I started writing morning pages and about a week later I felt free like I hadn’t felt in ages.

The answer is simple, but the process is hard.

When creating gets hard, give yourself grace and find a process to dump the bad thoughts and emotions so you can move on to the good stuff.

Have you gotten into creative ruts caused by stress or external events? How have you gotten yourself out of them? I’d love to hear in the comments.

Lean on Me Watercolor
Lean on Me Watercolor

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