An idea is born within your twisted little head, and suddenly all is well with the world. You’ve cracked the code to the ultimate solution that will cure your creative slump. You begin to set foot on this journey into your newfound world of ideas, only to find the landscape ahead of you is plagued with desolation. You can see your destination far in the distance, but the path to get there is completely abandoned. You’ve entered a void of creative motivation, and are about to dive head first into a pit of bland mediocrity.
This pretty much describes what Ive been going through lately, a complete uninspired mess with motivation nowhere to be found. Despite how hard I try to finish what Ive started, I just cannot find reason or strength to interpret why Im even doing this in the first place. So many questions race across my brain, some of which frighten me. Have I truly lost interest in music, the one thing thats kept me going for as long as I can remember? That would be impossible, wouldn’t it? Well, when you become consumed with such lack of motivation, its easy to accept your fate as nothing short of failure.
Fortunately this uninspired wave has long since washed away from me, and given the opportunity for hindsight to reveal some clarity on what this all means. More importantly, how to deal with it in the future. I struggled with the thought of even writing this article to begin with, but eventually decided it would not only be good therapy for me, but also might have the potential to help someone else out there dealing with similar issues. We can learn a lot from difficult moments in our lives, and taking any kind of benefit from them will transform that negative moment into a positive one.
Feeling What You Have, Not What You Need
When I entered this creative void, the first conclusion I jumped to was that this happened because I just didn’t feel like doing anything. I had no motivation to do the things I used to love doing. I convinced myself that I could no longer feel anything, and was void of all emotion. Meanwhile, the whole time I was actually feeling several emotions, just not positive ones.
Shame, guilt, envy, and failure seemed to circle around my head like vultures plotting out their next meal. I was feeling something after all, but I was giving in to the feelings that were not going to get me anywhere. Negative emotions like that will only hold you back, hence why I was never making any progress. Now that I figured this out, how was I supposed to fix it and move forward?
Look to Your Past to Fix Your Future
Many times when I was in my funk Id reminisce about the past, and how life was so much better back then. I started compiling a list in my head of things that used to bring me happiness. The list from my head soon made its way onto paper, actually a note taking app on my phone to be more specific. I began jotting down albums, movies, foods, and even smells that reminded me of my youth.
For example, one of my favorite memories comes from a time when my friends and I would visit a local book store that was surrounded by trees. We’d sit and read books on the occult while the smell of hazelnut coffee brewed behind us on the table where they served coffee and snacks for guests.
The next day I did just that, I brewed a cup of hazelnut coffee, grabbed a few goofy old books on the occult, and sat outside surrounded by trees. To my shock and surprise, it actually worked! This tiny little idea took me right back to that place from long ago, and suddenly I had a smile on my face again. It was just the small glimmer of hope I needed in order to pursue the rest of my nostalgic list.
I continued on, watching old movies I loved, listening to old albums, cooking the food I grew up eating. Slowly but surely, my sense of purpose started coming back to me. I was finally feeling like myself again. I kind of relate this idea to driving in a sense. You might be driving forward while looking through the windshield, but your rear view mirror is there as a reminder of whats behind you. Does that make sense? In other words, its important not to always dwell on whats behind you, your past in this case, but that doesn’t mean you cant use it as a tool to help you move forward.
Enjoy Even the Smallest Achievements
Now that my motivation had slowly crept back into existence, I still had another challenge to conquer. Ive always had an issue with never feeling accomplished. A day would go by, and Id look back on it thinking “What the hell did I do today? I got nothing done!” and repeatedly beat myself up over not being productive. Stepping back and looking at the situation from afar, I noticed one common factor. Id always take on the weight of the world and expect to fix everything in one day. In order to solve this toxic behavior, I started small.
When it came to sizable tasks that needed to be completed, I made a list of everything that needed to be done. At one point I was working on a very large website that had always been such a heavy weight on my shoulders. It was an overbearing monster of a project that would constantly cause stress and keep my supply of Advil running strong to combat my headaches. After listing one by one, each and every aspect of the website that needed work, I was able to systematically complete it piece by piece, rather than diving into it blindly.
Day one would go by, and Id check off the first three items on the list. Just the feeling of checking something off like that was enough to cure my previous feeling of guilt ridden failure. Should a day come where I sat around watching horror movies all day, Id embrace the fact that I had time to just lounge around and watch a few movies that inspired my creativity. The day might come when I have a family and don’t have the time to do this, so Im going to enjoy it while I still can. Speaking of having a family, is that looking too far into the future? Am I getting ahead of myself here?
Never Get Too Far Ahead of Yourself
The last and most important piece of knowledge I picked up from this experience, was to stop looking so far ahead of myself. Id always look so far into the future and come up with so many ideas which Id then share with the world in a furious rage of excitement. “Im going record ten albums in five years, and then Im going to shoot 20 music videos, and then Im going to direct a horror movie, etc…”. It got to the point where I could never keep up with all the ideas.
Eventually I started seeing people react as if my future proclamations were just the incessant ravings of a confused person crying wolf. By focusing more on the present, and current tasks at hand, I was able to slowly build that trust back. Not just with other people, but myself. I started seeing results from my work, and in turn that motivated me to pursue my goals even further.
So everything is fixed now, right? Not quite. There are always going to be ups and downs in life, and its important for me to remember that everything happens in balance of each other. Good must exist to prevent the bad, and bad must exist to give perspective on the good. At least thats what I believe, take it with a grain of salt of course. As I continue to work ahead on all my creative endeavors, I do so not completely cured, but with a new set of tools that can help me break through the walls that once stopped me in my tracks.