Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Empty Well of Creativity

Now this is a strange thing, posting two weeks running. It's a one-off don't worry, next Wednesday will be someone new! I don't have the brain juice to come up with post ideas every week.

Speaking of brain juice... today I want to talk about one of the more troublesome problems that my depression has thrown up in my lap these past few months. The FUBAR state of my creativity. More specifically my ability to write.

But Rachel you're writing right now! Yes I'm writing a non-fictional piece about the inner workings of this dented brain-box of mine and believe me it's a damn struggle. But it's *not even close* to the levels of nope that I'm faced with when it comes to creative writing like working on that novel I took two & a half years to produce a mostly-complete draft of. That just ain't happening. Nuh-uh. No-how, no way.

From my guesses of what caused this period of depression the start coincided with the end of my last OU module and with my finishing of the draft of my book in May. I went from having a job & also having a really productive writing month in April (link goes to the last post I did on my writing blog twelvety-million years ago) to being at home all day and procrastinating my way through my final Children's Literature assignment.

120K words of frustration
I got the essay finished (by the skin of my teeth if I recall- yup on the deadline day) and I wrote the last chapters in my draft. I went to the effort & expense to get my manuscript printed & bound (look at the beast!) but then the problems started...

It took me THREE WEEKS to read the draft through once. Any other book of this size would take me about 6 hours to read but trying to get through my own writing felt like a constant assault on my eyes & brain. I loathed every second of wading through the pages I'd spent over two years creating and I "joked" to many people that I was tempted to set fire to the damn book just to put it and me out of our misery.

Now I know that I am possibly the worst person to objectively judge my writing. Especially while sliding into depression. So in a moment of sense I held off from grabbing the matches and instead put the manuscript and the plethora of notebooks associated with the project into a drawer and began to pretend it didn't exist.

I'm still ignoring that drawer. Other people would have come up with a bunch of new story ideas and be happily working on a different book while waiting for the previous one to be done being a recalcitrant piece of shit. But I can't do that. I have had a couple of ideas over the last few months but any enthusiasm for them died within a day or two. Any attempts to sit down and just write something were rather like trying to force a boulder through a sieve with cooked noodles for fingers - ludicrously impossible.

There's just nothing in the Creative Well to pull up and pour onto a page.

One of my favourite author-humans Susan Dennard writes a fantastic newsletter in which she shares news about her books (most recently Truthwitch & the upcoming Windwitch) as well as writing advice. Her website is a goldmine of resources for the aspiring writer and it's bookmarked on my browser for whenever I want it. Back in July her newsletter was talking all about how working on Windwitch for two years had left her so burnt out that her creative well had run dry.

This was something I related to enormously, but with the unpleasant exception being that I had been trying to refill my Creative Well for weeks by that point. I'd devoured more books than I'm comfortable admitting and all it served to do was make me run out of space in my reading journal. All the worlds I'd escaped into and raced through had left no impression on me once the final page had been turned. Every book I threw into the Well just clattered onto the bottom rather than filling it back up.

 Depression has kicked a fucking great big hole in my Creative Well and I have no idea how to fix it. Which is super inconvenient when my final OU module is literally Creative Writing and I will have to be producing pieces for deadlines - the first being in a MONTH from yesterday. Shit.

So I'm in a bit of quandry. Can I write my way out of this or will I need help in the form of medication in order to get my brain back on an even keel long enough for me to properly patch up the Well. I honestly don't know right now, any advice would be greatly welcomed.


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No judgment, no hate, because it is already tough enough being a girl.