WHAT DO YOU DO? It happens to everyone – creative or non-creative. It is indiscriminate in who it strikes and when. So what can be done about rebooting the human CPU so that the programs run effectively without glitches, without viruses in the background draining the precious reserves of creativity?
One thing is for certain, and perhaps even a universal truth (with adequate funding I’d be very prepared to undertake a work/ holiday study), everyone needs change from time to time. Whether that is in the form of a new place, new friends, new dialogue, or simply a switch in mindstate, it is a healthy way to change what you think and how you think. Without novel stimulation lab animals and neglected children grow up psychologically stunted. New experiences are essential to mental well being especially when young but also when we are older and able to dictate what we do on any given day.
Relating to writing, there is a strange dichotomy, a need for routine but also the need for inspiration. Routines allow us to associate a chair with writing for example, so when we sit down, ideally we are in The Writing Zone (with possible parallels to The Twilight Zone). We are mentally prepared for what is to come and through habit we know we will write in said chair at this desk on that laptop. It forms a heuristic – a mental shortcut – cutting down on processing and over thinking.
On the flipside, if we sit at the desk two months in a row and have little change in our life beyond the ordinary, there is a good chance the creativity will plummet off a cliff with all the glee of a leper colony, err, I mean lemmings. Routine is productive to an extent, but there needs to be something outside of that to fuel what happens when you sit down to write. Blank minds don’t write on blank sheets. What you experience away from writing is equally important to what comes out when you do write. On a grand scale your life affects what you write. On the micro scale, each day affects what turns up on the page.
How to refuel? Good question (I am nostradamus!). Every writer will tell you that reading is essential. It’s akin to watching sports and that itch you get to go and play yourself, the need to try it out yourself. A good story, short or long has propelled me into writing many times over. But what if your reading fuel has been depleted also? Like the shuttle heading to outer space shedding the two booster rockets, space and spaced is what comes next. A delirium, an undetectable sickness that could stump each and every expert from neuroscientists to fortune tellers comes into effect. You are a shuttle heading where plenty of men have gone before…space, the final front tears. Doom and gloom…
I’d love to hear what all of you do in this situation, when writing and reading have lost their appeal. This is what I do, roughly speaking: I change up from the written medium and listen to music, watch TV, a film, or videos, anything not related to W+R. It’s almost a cleansing like process. To refuel, paradoxically, I don’t go to the W+R petrol/gas station. I go somewhere else entirely. I go for walks. I might even hoover. I’ll call someone. In essence it doesn’t matter, as long as what I do in times of creative injustice are divergent to what I was doing before. And then steadily, or even suddenly, I find myself writing and reading again whether it’s books, WordPress or editing and working on material.
What’s your solution to creative freezes, how do you get back on beat?