Creativity gone zombie?


(Photo credit: AMC, The Walking Dead, Pilot)

Ever feel like your creative cup has run dry? Like the Sahara Desert, only without the beauty and mystery?

We’ve all been there.

For the past few weeks, I’ve had zero energy, inspiration or give-a-cares to devote to any creative pursuits outside of the fourteen marketing campaigns that are on my To Do List at any given moment. (I’m a copywriter; it’s my job.)

Until recently, I’ve felt pretty crappy about how uninspired I’ve been.

I mean, shouldn’t real writers be writing? Don’t we put a ton of pressure on ourselves to follow our creative passion at all times? I do. I also have a serious case of Imposter Syndrome, so when I’m not writing, I’m even more terrified of being discovered as a total fake.

Worse, if I’m not working on my creative or personal writing, does that mean I’ve turned into one of those ‘writers’ who call themselves writers but don’t actually write and instead just walk around wearing puffy shirts and correcting people’s grammar and wax mysterious when asked about their latest work? (That stereotype came from somewhere and whoever did it, sucks.)

If that’s the case, I’m even failing at that because: 1) I don’t own a puffy shirt; 2) I don’t correct people’s grammar unless I’m trying to antagonize them; and 3) I’m as mysterious as a bowl of Cheerios, without the sugar.

But in answer to my questions in the paragraph before that last one—no, I don’t suck as a writer.

Because life is sticky, and sometimes we’re going to run dry for a little bit.

That’s okay.

Here’s my reality:

  • I battle light to moderate depression from time to time.
  • Now is one of those times it’s closer to moderate than light.
  • I write for a living and so I can’t call myself a ‘non-writer.’ It’s my job. Literally.

I’m also more than a writer, and the other parts of my soul need to be nourished, too. And when I’m going through any degree of depression, it’s okay to take time to do that, even it means binge-watching The Walking Dead for six eight hours straight on a Saturday instead of doing laundry or dishes just so my brain can stop thinking and relish in the awesomeness that is Daryl Dixon. It’s also okay for me to repeat on Sunday.

Once you realize that you’re more than this one particular talent, you might find your well being more open to being filled instead being a frustrated vacuum of darkness.

Once you take the pressure off of yourself to be so productive at all times, you can stop ambling around, drooling, unable to form a complete sentence and wishing you had the same brains and guts other, real people have.

Metaphorically speaking, of course. I’m not an actual zombie. Usually. I’m assuming the same about you.

I won’t bother with the How to Fill Your Creative Cup list. There are a million (probably) posts and articles about refilling your creative cup. Writing prompts abound. Lists go on.

I’m not even going to pretend to regurgitate all of that because I think it’s different for everyone. If you’re looking for ideas to refill your cup and you’re hoping I have something new, I don’t. And I’m sorry about that. But for what it’s worth, I still believe in you.

When I read through those lists, I typically think “nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope …” If that stuff works for others, great. I like going my own way.

So, what do I do?

  • Sketch during lunch.
  • Read whatever I want.
  • Eat less sugar.
  • Work my way through a Wreck This Journal.
  • ‘Doodle’ writing blurbs in journals and on stickies.
  • Keep writing, even when it sucks.
  • Relish in some of the sucky writing.
  • Go through writing development books paragraph by paragraph instead of trying to cram the entire volume into my brain in one sitting so that I’m smarter, faster. (That never works, by the way. I just come out the other side feeling like I’m going to fail a test I’ll never have to take.)

If anything on that list works for you, high-five. If not, that’s okay. The first five seasons of The Walking Dead are on Netflix; dig in.

P.S. If Daryl dies, I really will riot.

P.P.S. I’m not caught up on Season 6, so please, no spoilers.

4 thoughts on “Creativity gone zombie?”

  1. Always a pleasure to read you. Bon mot: that “other, real people have.” Let me add, for crowding out that black hole noise when other entrainments run out or fail, clean something till it’s white glove perfect, walk absolutely nowhere as far as legs allow, limp home without assistance by imagining it to be tundra at minus 40, sit as in Zen, see how long it takes to do a model car in one go, mutter about Rothfuss not getting the third book done, carve only what the wood invites, carve only what the knife wants, reinstall Windows to provide an objective source of pain, analyze and graph the sentence structures in Call of the Wild, refactor a program to read like a novel, look up something in Britannica and see how far afield you can get in six hours, buy a lottery ticket and script a new life, imagine an apocalypse and script a new life, practice starting fire with flint.
    Interesting to note focus on process, obscuring product.
    On the other side, when the fog lifts, I find it proper to use phrases like “make hay while the sun shines,” abjure labels like “manic,” and press every last drop of adrenaline into service.

    1. Laurence, your comment makes my writerly soul feel like it’s stepped into a sunbeam filled with frolicking bunnies. In short, thank you. Yours is one of the best comments provided.

      “…reinstall Windows to provide an objective source of pain…” Brilliant.

  2. Yeah, ever since I stopped freelancing I’ve been exactly like a zombie because of my anxiety/depression. So I’m probably setting some sort of record for completing a video game trilogy.

    1. First of all, hugs to you to carry with you as you deal with your depression and anxiety. That’s no picnic. Second, if you find a record that you’re actually setting with the video game trilogy, let me know and I’ll celebrate it with you. Because victories matter. (Hugs)

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