Creativity Blockage

I haven’t made much time recently to sit down and write. Between summer class AppIndie 2.0 work and family stuff, I haven’t exactly been a maven of productivity.

Just as I haven’t been writing any blog posts (the last one was when?), I haven’t been working much on my novels, or any of the other creative pursuits that I’ve come to enjoy. Though I make an effort to show up for my writing time, but nothing seems to come out when I sit down.

Writer’s block is probably nothing to stress about, but just the same, it feels me with that bit of anxiety that seems to permeate through the rest of my life.

While some of my friends and colleagues seem to be moving forward with their work and creative pursuits, I seem to be just stuck in the mud.

Fundamentally Wrong Idea

Every time I sit and think about what I should be doing in any certain situation, I always come back to the idea that I am somehow failing myself by not sitting down and completing what needs to be done. The blame always comes back onto myself–and the burden of the knowledge that my future self will most certainly be angry with my past self for not completing–should be enough of a motivator, but sometimes it just doesn’t light my fire.

Listening to Elizabeth Gilbert‘s presentation at the 2009 TED Conference, I am intellectually reminded once again that I shouldn’t be stressing about this as an extension of my viability as a father, husband and contributing member of society. If you haven’t listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Nurturing Creativity presentation, please take a few minutes and watch:


Now, as we learn from this video, our modern society has taken a different approach to the idea of genius as it pertains to an individual.

Rather than having an external, ethereal genius to guide us in our creative pursuits, modern humans have the trait of genius. As [Author’s Name] states in this video, this can be a soul-crushing and counter-productive model of the creative inner self. This can lead to all sorts of self esteem issues, not to mention psychological problems that can retard or even obliterate the creative energies one might be able to use.

Even though my conscious brain agrees whole-heartedly with this model; something deep inside me prevents me from changing my inner view to allow for the idea of an outside entity to be in charge of inspiring and pushing me to create.

Genius and Resistance

At any one given moment, a person is conflicted in two directions:

  1. Creative Pursuit
  2. Distraction, Procrastination and Lethargy

The idea of Resistance is that it is an external force which is manifest in behavior which keeps us from doing what we should, or what we could possibly do.

Given these two concepts, a creative person then has to deal with two outside forces pulling in opposite directions. Whether you view Genius and Resistance as internal ideals or external entities, you can see what kind of a problem this will cause.

Procrastination has been one of my biggest downfalls for as long as I can recall. In elementary school, I learned that I could go out and play for 4 hours a night, and quickly scrawl together A-grade material in the morning just before class began. As a consequence, this became a habit, and I am seeing the error in my ways today.

I also suffer from anxiety caused by both procrastination and my natural tendency to avoid situations that could potentially be harmless.

Are people reading my blog? Only a few a day, so why bother writing? I’ll never finish my novels, so why should I even care if I’m organized and complete even the smallest fraction of the work and research that goes into the universe I have created?

These are questions that I face every day, and I always come up with two answers, both of which are not correct:

  1. I can always do it later. I’m only 25, I still have at least 50 good years left in my life.
  2. If people aren’t reading my blog, maybe I should just avoid putting the effort into it altogether, and keep myself sane.

How does one get themselves out of this kind of funk? I haven’t found the answer yet, and I assume that it is a different animal for every creative person out there.

Living In My Head

One thing I do all too often is over think. I think things through until their logical end, and as a result don’t take the risk for the fear that things won’t work out.

I know intellectually that these thoughts and habits are completely illogical. But because of the momentum (or lack thereof) that I’ve created for myself over the past 25 years, I tend to just let things go until they eat me alive.

Since my last post I have done almost zero writing. I have erected a wiki to help me with fleshing out the ideas in my universe, but have left that largely untouched. I have started quite a few blog posts with ideas I’ve gathered during my down time and before, but they haven’t made it past the “Draft” stage:

My Recent Drafts

My Recent Drafts

What’s keeping me from finishing these things? Nothing but myself.

It’s come to the point where I’ve even stopped showing up for my Genius to help me translate the ethereal messages into words to share with the world. I am most certainly not doing my part to complete these missions.

Being bipolar, my head isn’t exactly a great place to be living. Things come and go like the winds: ideas (good and bad), distractions, tasks, work, etc. And yet, one side of me just drags me down, keeping me from using the potential I was born with and my parents cultivated over my adolescent years.

Don’t know where you’re going only know just where you’ve been
Led Zeppelin – Dazed and Confused

This seems to be my motto over the past few months/years, and it has to stop. I’ve never been one to set and keep schedules properly, but I have to put more than the usual zero effort into it.

I would be interested to see what other things creative types do to keep themselves diligent. If you have any thoughts, leave them in the comments, tweet me, or shoot me an email.

  • Isisi

    I don’t know if this will help, but I’ve found in recent years that, for me anyway, the best way to be productive is to make a list of everything I need and want to do that day, organize them by least pleasant to most pleasant, and then do the one(s) I’m dreading first.
    That way, not only do I get things accomplished, but I get them out of the way so that the dread isn’t hanging over my head. If I wait, I put them off by procrastinating, doing pointless little useless things, ANYTHING as a means of delaying what needs to be done, and I get so much less work done.
    I’ve just found that getting them out of the way makes for an infinitely more productive work day.
    Also, I love you. :) And I think it’s great that you’re working so hard on self improvement.

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