Have you ever had a moment where you were sure the creative juices were about to start flowing, but then refused to gel into anything useful? Many of my scribblings over the years would start with a great idea, then suddenly stopped making sense. Sometimes, my train of thought will even stop mid-sentence.
Sometimes, I’d realize I was trying too hard. So, I would try and relax, sit at my desk, and stare blankly at the screen in front of me. I’d do this in order to feel the ebbs and flows of my creative juices. Some days, the flows would come like a rushing river, overflowing with ideas and inspiration. Other days, the ebbs would leave my creative well dry, devoid of any creativity or inspiration.
When the creative juices are flowing, it’s as if floodgates have opened, and my mind races with ideas. My thoughts come at lightning speed, and my fingers can barely keep up as I try to capture them.On days where my writing is going well, it even affects my entire day. Colors seem brighter, sounds more vibrant, and almost anything in my environment can become a source of inspiration. When I get this magical feeling, I relish every moment of it.
Then, there are the days when the creative juices run dry. My mind seems trapped in a parched and barren desert wasteland. Hoping that inspiration will strike, I stare at the blank page, but it never comes.
But, my lack of inspiration doesn’t just affect my ability to write something meaningful. All around me the colors become muted, the sounds duller, and I find frustration in just about anything that comes unexpectedly. It’s a painful feeling when I’m running on creative empty, and I struggle mightily to find my way out of these funks.
In my quest to find an oasis of creativity, sometimes I try to will the beauty of a new inspired passage into existence. Sheer determination and tapping away at the keyboard sometimes seems the only way to bring the ideas back to flowing again. Unfortunately, this approach typically leads to burnout and frustration.
I’ve learned the hard way, by dealing with bouts of anxiety and depression, that creativity isn’t something that can be forced; rather, it has to come naturally. Some days, the inspiration will simply not be there, and I have to simply accept a dry and arid day for what it is.
So when I find the creative juices are ebbing, I try to step away from my work and do something else. I take a walk, read a book, or watch a television series. When these pastimes don’t lead to sufficient recreation, I then meditate. I try to clear my mind and let it wander, hoping that the universe will bestow some inspiration onto me. Eventually, it always does.
Once the creative juices begin to flow once again, I feel reinvigorated and inspired.This never-ending cycle of ebbs and flows is what makes creative pursuits so infuriating yet also so rewarding.Despite the many frustrating dry spells, I wouldn’t trade my vocation as a writer and editor for anything else. The highs are worth the lows, and the act of creating meaningful works are worth the struggle.These struggles alongside the victories are what makes the creative process so beautiful and rewarding.
So, what happens when the words still won’t say what I want them to mean? My coherency is at times fleeting, but not always due to internal or external stresses. The passion for the written word ebbs and flows for reasons governed mostly by the unconscious. Yet, sometimes the more mixed up I get, the more I need to write, even if the result is garbage. At times, these moments of incoherent rambling serve as a sort of a writer’s tune-up for me.
There was a time I didn’t think very much of my scribblings and the value they may hold. But, as I return to them later, they gradually make more sense to me. Writing is a beautiful exercise of the mind. It’s funny what you can come up with when you write whatever words pop into your head.
In addition to words, I’ll often get images in my mind. But, since the quality of my doodling leaves too much to be desired, I prefer to wait for the words to come to describe these imaginings. Some imaginings, however, are simply not easily explained with words alone, grand designs which I can’t figure out how to express.
So, the reason I start to write so many different things is that I can’t just stick to one type of writing is because my brain moves so fast. Often, I lose interest a particular subject before I even get going. It’s like I always need a new more complex vehicle to convey my ideas.
The trick to keep yourself motivated and productive as a writer is to manage the creative juices when they’re flowing. As I found myself leaning into writing essays much more than other genres, I finally began to find a happy medium with my writing. While I certainly haven’t closed the book on writing novels or poetry, I realize that essay writing is where I find my creative flow is at its best.
As we rely on imagination and ingenuity to make a living, we creatives must learn how to manage the inevitable ebbs and flows of creative juices. No matter how experienced you get, it’s always a challenge. For those about to create, I salute you.