Dear Faceless Void,
Like many creatives, I’ve been feeling a hard time being creative lately. I don’t have anything to add to the calls for self-compassion or understanding, the acknowledgement that the world is a blistering hellscape and we are all going through this.
We are. That is valid.
But what I do want to add is my pondering of why the world at large is stopping us.
I mean, writing is, in theory, escapism. It is something we often derive pleasure from, and very often either doesn’t touch on current affairs, or is our means of processing said things. So why is the world being a flaming pustule leaving us staring at open word documents and our fingers just tapping idly beside the keys?
My humble opinion, dear void, is that writing, in fact all creating, is a vulnerable thing. Creatives will say that the process is deeply personal, and why shouldn’t we also think about what position we put ourselves in to draw from that wellspring? We have to drop our defenses, lay our thoughts bare, give ourselves grace when make mistakes, strive to take something from deep inside and place it where anyone could, in theory, see it.
That takes courage, even without any plan to show it to someone. We all fear rejection. We all fear being mocked or made fun of or being dismissed, and creating is exposing the soft spot on us, right where some boy with a fairy and a toy sword can smack it. How many creatives do something creative only to rip it up or toss it straight to the recycling bin and hitting “empty”?
The world has our guard up extra tight. We don’t, to be frank, feel safe. And when we aren’t safe, we aren’t about to lower the defenses and let the old weak spot hang out. We definitely aren’t going to leave it out.
So, what can we do? I think, something that would help is to figure out some way to feel safe. Not comfortable, not “in the zone”, but just safe. I have found writing video-chats to be great. Not for the accountability of having people expecting you to report back that you wrote so many words, but for the idea of safety in numbers.
–Cue grand musical crescendo, and the male lead saying “they do move in herds…”
But it doesn’t have to be group writes. It can be about designating time in your day that is for writing, that you won’t let the scary things near you (so no social media!), that you can have some ritual around of putting on the right music, or lighting a candle, or making some tea to sip while you write.
But foremost in your mind, before you think of plot or character or motive or McGuffin, needs to be an affirmation of “I am safe, at least for right now.”
Find that, and maybe you can find your creative juice. It helped me write to you, dear void. Even if I know when this is done, I’ll be going back to a world that is hostile and dangerous. For the time I wrote this, I at least felt safe.
Until next time,