Advice / Lifestyle,  Blog

An open letter to the creatives who can’t create

To the creatives who can’t create:

The creatives who are stuck in a slump, a slump that started sometime in March, or was it April? No matter, a slump. A dark creative slump.

You know the one.

We told ourselves in the spring that this was going to be our year, lockdowns and quarantines be damned. We were going to push harder, dream bigger, and create more. We were going to be the creatives of our dreams since we had nowhere to go, no one to see, and nothing to do.

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Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

We were going to finish penning our novels. We were going to actually edit the videos we filmed. We were going to publish the final master of those songs, promote those podcasts, and grow our creative reach to prove to ourselves and others that we are legit creators.

You know, legit creators in the sense that our creations can make money.

We were going to art until our hands grew numb from polishing our rough drafts into perfect pieces of art. We were going to create until we were satisfied with our efforts.

But at this point… I have to ask everybody else… are any of us actually satisfied with our efforts?

2020 has been a personal merry-go-round of creative guilt and shame and maybe you can relate. I tell myself that I have all the time in the world, that nothing besides working and staying alive commands my attention right now. This is my moment to do it all.

Yet, my moment feels so heavy. It feels like a boulder sitting atop my shoulders making it hard to do much but run on autopilot for the day.

Creating is so heavy. I have the time, but the energy? The passion? The creative juices that fuel the machine?

Empty. Depleted. Void.

My blogs sit empty, my Youtube still blank, my GarageBand embarrassingly untouched.

I see the “Last Opened” date on my apps and Google Docs and shrink back into myself a little bit. I shrink even further back when people ask when the next update is coming, the next episode, the next post. I haven’t updated my podcast since April.

Shame and guilt. Guilt and shame. Like a bitter idea-blocking cocktail I knock back each morning with my multivitamin and fish oil.

Shame and guilt… they’re heavy. Real heavy.

So, to my fellow creatives who can’t seem to do much of anything but watch as bouts of motivation that don’t quite last long enough to finish a chapter or pick up the tablet pen pass over you, this one’s for you.

I see you, I feel you.

Push forward when you feel like it, when you have the energy (or when you need the money because let’s be real here… ), but also give yourself grace.

Let yourself breathe. Greet the light and appreciate the day, even if it passes with nary more than a passing thought to the projects that stay shelved or exist only in your journals.

Guilt and shame fester and swell in the dark.

Embrace the fact that you’re trying… embrace that you’re not trying.

Embrace your truth and the reality that this year has been the darkest many of us have and will ever experience. Embrace the growth that you’ve made, even in the absence of having much of anything to show for it.

Most of all, embrace the fact that tomorrow is a new day.

Maybe tomorrow you’ll forget to kick back that guilt and shame cocktail in the morning.

Maybe tomorrow the heaviness of the moment will shift a a bit from your shoulders, making it easier to move, spread out, and create, even if for only a few minutes at a time.

Those few minutes are all you need. Our progress is slow, our processes even slower. And that’s okay.

To the creatives who can’t create… it’s okay.

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