When the Creativity Switch is Set to “Off”

A lot of writers say to write every day.  Sometimes it’s touted as the key to success, or the mark of a “real writer.”  Supposedly when you do it every day it becomes an ingrained habit and writer’s block no longer plagues you because you’re used to just pushing ahead.

I’m not so sure there’s any magic bullet or mark of being “real.”  I think every writer is different, and has different creative needs and phases.

For me, when the creativity switch is off, it’s OFF.

I can blame it on any number of things, usually.  Pregnancy brain.  Sick kids.  Busy weeks.  Stress or exhaustion.  (All of which I have right now.)  But at the end of the day the fact remains that sometimes the flame of my creativity just…winks out.

Poof, gone.

Normally I’m very gung-ho about being creative in God’s image, enjoying stories and imagination because they are an imitation of the creative God who made us…but when the spark is gone, I don’t even want to read, or watch a TV show.  Forget about creative OUTput!  I can’t even get up the enthusiasm for creative input!

It’s like that creative and imaginative part of me died.  It’s immensely frustrating, and I feel lost and empty without it.

So, that’s where I am right now.  I can’t bring myself to even look at my book, because I feel no connection to it.  I have no ideas to write for a flash fiction contest I’m dying to enter (and the deadline is mere days away…I probably won’t make it).  I can’t even think of a really good blog post for this week, which is why you have this messy thought dump.  😛

Sure, I could try to do the “backside in chair” method and just force the words out no matter how awful and uninspired they are.  But if I hate the very idea of writing right now, what’s the likelihood of creating anything I will enjoy – much less readers?  The spark isn’t there, and it will be painfully obvious.

Some writers can draft fast and sloppy, and then go back later to tidy up, because that’s their creative process, but that doesn’t make me happy or inspire me.  I have to draft clean, with precision…that’s who I am as a writer, and it makes me happy in my art.

If I don’t enjoy making my own art, who will enjoy the fruit of it?

“Success” in the writing industry isn’t guaranteed no matter how hard or how consistently you work.  At the end of the day, we writers have to write because we love it, and we love our stories, and we want to please God with our work.  Those are the things that must truly matter, because money, fame, fandoms, and movie deals are never guaranteed.

So, life goes on.  The spark is gone right now, but it will come back.  It always does.  Maybe sometimes God pinches the flame out to point me toward something else I should focus on instead, for a time.  Maybe it’s a reminder that all creativity ultimately comes from Him, and I need to draw closer to Him again.

When the spark comes back, I shall write!

For now, I will distract myself with housework.  And cute babies.  And much-needed naps. 😉

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What do you do when you feel uninspired?  Are you a push-through-it diligent rough drafter?  Or do you move according to inspiration?

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9 Comments

  1. Kessie

     /  May 6, 2015

    Take that nap. It’ll help. I’ve been so sick for the last three weeks, I had the energy to write exactly one day. Get back to 100% and it’ll come back.

    Reply
  2. Schylie La Belle

     /  May 6, 2015

    I am totally with you, Bethany! I simply cannot write when I don’t ‘feel like it’. If I don’t have that inspiration, nothing can get me to write. But, thankfully, that doesn’t happen too often. I just have to wait it out and then the Lord opens my eyes to see something that gives me inspiration and gets me running to my computer. 😉

    Reply
  3. Same here for me!
    And yes – draw close to God at all times, not even in the creative “off” times. 🙂

    Reply
    • Oh absolutely! I wasn’t suggesting a this-or-that kind of thing. I just meant maybe if I’m not seeking closeness with God as I should, perhaps He uses this kind of thing as an indication for me to reevaluate my priorities and remind me I need Him first. 🙂 But who knows. I DO know it causes me to seek Him more, to ask for His blessing and help in my creative efforts!

      Reply
    • Although, manic creative progress and success makes me seek Him in gratitude, too! 🙂

      Reply

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