Creative Crisis

Hi everyone,

Something that I’ve been struggling with lately is a huge creative dip. It’s probably because I’ve been down more than up over the last few months but when I look back I realise that it’s been coming a long time. Apart from Down Days, which is more of an outpouring of my thoughts and feelings than anything creative or crafted, there’s been very little work coming out of me. I have so many projects to be getting on with:

  1. The Adventures of Alan Shaw Vol 3
  2. Greaveburn 2
  3. Emi
  4. A Cyberpunk novel
  5. Rewriting two old, terrible books from my early writing years
  6. A geek memoir-style book
  7. Scripts of Not Before Bed short stories for short film versions
  8. Script of a movie idea that I’ve had bouncing around for a while.

That’s a hell of a lot. Plus I have ideas for several other projects to come after that that are too numerous to mention. However, with all that to do, I can’t seem to get any of it done. Everything is at a total standstill. My brain just feels empty. Or perhaps I can’t focus properly. Either way, it’s frustrating as hell.

Then there’s the usual hurdle of not thinking that I’m any good even when I do write. I think this is pretty normal for creative types, at least on my z-list level (actually, I don’t think I’m on the official alphabetised list yet. I’m probably just a number determined by my amazon rating which is in the millions). Still, it doesn’t help. Everything I read is much more articulate, more imaginative. It feels like everything I’m doing has been done before and better.

This came to a head just last night when my lovely wife had bought me a copy of Matt Haig’s “Reasons to stay alive”. I’d never heard of it but the praise on the back cover included Stephen Fry and so I started to read it right away. Instead of making me feel better, I just felt ill. It’s brilliantly written, poignant and easy to read; everything that I hoped Down Days would be, and Haig even mentions things like poets in the first few chapters and describes the feeling of wanting to die so eloquently, so simply.

Basically, I started comparing myself to someone who obviously has more skill than myself, and I can’t help but think “why am I bothering?”. It’s all been done. Every story has been told and told better. I’m starting to think that I should just give up. Down Days is done now, and I won’t take it down, and I’ll probably keep writing this blog as I find it cathartic, but why am I bothering to fight against so many other people with better skills than myself, the millions of people who want to be writers, too, and the hundreds of publishers who only want work that is a safe bet, rather than the things that I’m trying to do. I feel like I’m sharing my soul through my books and…nothing.

Is it selfish to desire a little feedback? I don’t want the Rowling Millions (that she totally deserves for her excellent work), and I’m not expecting to be remembered in three hundred years in whatever version of the literary canon still exists; just a little sign is all I ask, something that says “keep going, you have something there” something that can make me feel less like I’m pouring my essence into a page that just eats and eats and eats.

Suffice to say, this author is in crisis right now. A turning point has been reached. I can either carry on the rugged cliff-side trail, clambering with bloody hands and feet, or leap off the cliff for a brief sensation of flying before hitting the bottom.

 

Thanks for reading.

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8 Comments

  1. We all go through this, even the ‘a listers’, so you’re not alone. If you’re struggling with depression, then yeah, it’s amplified. I certainly am no stranger to the issues you describe. I think it’s just sheer bloody mindedness that’s kept me going all these years.
    One thing I’d say, try not to overwhelm yourself with projects. You’ve got a lot on there. Focus on what really matters, take it one bit at a time, and don’t feel like you have to take it all at once. Think about what you can put on the backburner for later, and focus on the one or two you feel are the ones to deliver now.
    I’ve been struggling with creative issues for a while. Yeah, I’m battling with a shitty day job that by its nature sucks on my creative energies, the commute takes its toll, and looking after a father with dementia doesn’t help, but in my case what triggered a creative crisis was self-publishing my novel a few years ago. Suddenly, I had to do all this marketing (half baked in my case because I simply do not trust marketing and marketers (as a journalist that scepticism is an occupational requirement)).
    I’m sure you’ve felt the pressure too: you’ve got to do all this social media stuff, you absolutely must write all these blog posts, yadda yadda. In my case, I think it turned my writing into a chore, because I was endlessly trying to think up ideas for posts and write things I really didn’t want to waste my energies on, but felt I had to. The upshot, it became a kind of aversion therapy.
    I’m in the proces of fighting back now, trying to focus on what matters — short stories, and when I’m ready, my next novel. If that means all the stuff the SEO/marketing gurus say I should do has to take a back seat, then so be it (because ultmately all that stuff is rooted in marketing agencies that are simply touting for trade).
    We can’t ignore this stuff, but we mustn’t let it take over either. I think in essence, we have to focus on what matters to us as writers. Otherwise we just give strength to that nagging voice asking ‘what’s the point?’
    Keep going, Craig. You have something worthwhile to offer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The only true battle is the one we fight within ourselves. Just be who you are, and enjoy the journey because the world may never care (for most of us it doesn’t anyway). But us shadow dwellers, the unnoticed amongst the beings in light, we see things from the ground up. You have a wonderful descriptive style. I find myself jealous of your* skill and long to be at your level. There’s a lot of hidden beauty in this world and maybe for inspiration, you need to go outside, to search within yourself. Do something crazy/different/uncomfortable, something stimulating. I hope you find what you’re looking for.
    Much <3, Elysia
    PS: My books are my only friends. They feel like my soul too.

    Like

    1. That’s quite the compliment, Elysia. Thank you. Although I think you may be mixing my books up with someone else’s 😂
      I hope that your own work does well. And don’t forget that we are always our own harshest critics. I’m certain that you’re better than you think.
      I’ll try to take your advice and hope to get some inspiration soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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