The title says it all. I’ve been stuck in a bit of a creative rut over the last year or so and I think that there are a number of reasons why that was, but I also hope that, in the coming months, I’ll be able to sort that out and start writing again. I write this now because I had a small epiphany just a little while ago and I wanted to talk about the steps I’m going to take to try and improve. It’s not that I’ve lacked the will to be creative, I’ve just lacked the motivation to actually start and follow through with anything substantial.
I’ll start with the reasons why I’ve lacked motivation, and this was the epiphany I had today. I think that I think too much. I’m at university doing quite an academic course (maths) and, while last year I didn’t really apply myself, I felt like the daily routine of going to lectures, struggling with problems and trying to wrap my head around new concepts exhausted me mentally and, of equal importance, stressed me out. Usually when I’m stressed I can write about it and getting things down on paper helps. It helps even more if, when I read it back, it doesn’t sound like word-vomit, but that added taxation on my brain when I just wanted to relax or hang out with my friends would have been too much, and so nothing got written. I also had stresses from other sources as well and I used to lie to myself a bit about how creative I had been each week to try and make me feel better. I pin the blame mostly on university but I can’t deny that the way I am doesn’t help me.
There is also falling out of routine. I have now established a fairly good routine of sleeping/working/relaxing and other things but it used to be that I’d stay up until I physically couldn’t, would work until the work was done rather than until I needed a break and would have no set times for meals or relaxing or whatever. Now I have a far more balanced lifestyle and it has taken quite a while to build up so I hope I can keep it. This one is mostly my fault though. It was another stressor that I didn’t need and I feel like I wasted a lot of my own time by not being strict with myself, which in turn lead to me feeling more stressed because I had wasted time. With the falling out of routine I also stopped reading on a regular basis. One of the most important things for aspiring writers to do is to read as much as they can, preferably good stuff, but I just stopped for no real discernable reason.
Now I’m trying to change that. I am obviously reading more now, even though it is slow going, and I have got a good work-life balance going even if, this last couple of weeks, I have done a lot of extroverted things that have tired me out. I have also been doing this blog for quite a while now and, over the course of writing it, the standard of work has improved. This is also something beyond my control but my room is big enough now to give me some space to stretch out. I feel comfortable in it, and it’s not cluttered like my last room at uni was, nor my room at home.
But next comes the big step. Long form fiction has always been the most satisfying, yet the most difficult writing I have done. Many projects have crashed and burned before they even started, and some have just fizzled out. I’m going to change that in November (hopefully) November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. The goal and rules are simple: write 50,000 words in the month of November and no prose before the month starts. Planning is all above board though and, while I would like to plan my book, usually they go a bit off the rails when I do. The failure of my last project I put down to lack of planning. I didn’t get very far and it’s something I’ve wanted to write for a while. It was a fantasy book, something I haven’t previously had much success with and, while I had a plan for what would happen later in the book, getting from the first scene which introduced characters and their motivations to a scene where the plot could progress was a void of creativity that I didn’t want to set foot in. Fantasy is a very tired genre and I’m not one for reusing stereotypes so quickly I gave up disheartened.
When I have thought things out some more I will do a blog entry on it but it goes without saying that this blog will be on unofficial hiatus during November. I might do something surrounding my progress in NaNoWriMo and I am determined to finish it this year but I might just end up too burned out after writing 1,667 words in a day.