There are few things in life and the creative process that can stop you as dead in your tracks as discouragement. It dries up your wells of creativity, telling you that you’ll never get to where you want to be, asking you why you even bother trying. It keeps your head filled with lies about your ability and capability. It pushes you down in the dirt, even if others try to encourage and build you up. Not much creativity happens when you’re faceplanted in a ditch in your own head.
Discouragement can have a lot of causes. Maybe it comes from a lack of inspiration, that feeling that maybe you’ve just lost your spark. Maybe it’s waiting for the thirtieth reply that isn’t coming, ever, from a publisher or agent. Maybe it’s your health or state of mind that is setting up blocks, setting you up to fail. Maybe it’s a combination of things that started small and grew until you couldn’t stop it anymore. Somehow, the cards are just stacked against you. You get discouraged, and your creativity falls asleep.
But notice what I said. It falls asleep. It doesn’t die. It isn’t stolen. It doesn’t fade from existence. It’s taking a break.
I must admit that I’ve been stuck in that rut of discouragement lately. I’m tired, I’m feeling uninspired, and I feel like no one will ever want anything I create. I feel like a failure and a fraud in my creative life.
And then, while I was just starting to feel a little bit discouraged but willing to keep trying, life hit me in the face. I got a boyfriend (who I love dearly and wouldn’t trade for anything!), so my time to create slowed down as I started reorganizing my time and how I spend my evenings. I had to learn how to still do the things I love while spending time with him. Then my family dog died just a little bit before Thanksgiving, very unexpectedly, which has been hard on all of us, especially since it’s the holiday season. And I’ve had personal demons to cope with as bits of my depression resurfaced as a result of all the lemons life has been lobbing at me. Let me tell you, lemon juice in a wound does not make it feel better.
So I stopped. Everything just stopped. I spent endless hours watching TV or scrolling Facebook for no other reason than I simply didn’t want to do anything else. I started feeling guilty for doing nothing, for ignoring my dreams, for letting my blogs stagnate, for not creating or reading or being Selina as I know her. And I hate that.
But I’m not done. My muse didn’t die, she just took a nap. And while I still feel guilty for the things I’m not doing (sorry guys, I promise I don’t want to abandon you), I also know that maybe it’s time to slow down a little, put a bit less pressure on myself to be productive. I need to let myself take it easy and simply create for the joy of creating, to remember why I love to read and write and draw, to lose myself in the process of creating. And I know getting back into it will be hard, especially since I’ve been pretty sporadic and unscheduled since my final year of grad school. But I dearly miss having my writing schedule, thinking 24/7 of my story and characters, plotting as I’m doing everything else. I miss the excitement I felt waiting to come home so I could lose myself in the world I had made, to experience my own story in a new way. I want to be the artist I know I am.
I know it’s going to be hard. And if you’ve ever felt this way, I know you understand. It’s in these times that we must trust our own dreams and desires, that we trust the people who love and support us, and that we trust ourselves.
We will get through it.
We just can’t let ourselves give up.