On forcing creativity

9th March 2019

I’ve been stuck in a bit of a rut lately. I came back from our trip to Australia and New Zealand full of words that I couldn’t wait to get down on my blog about our time abroad and all that we had experienced. And then nothing. I combed every inch of my brain for blog post ideas but was left with only dust. I even tried a bloody mind map – on actual paper! – and still, I was disappointed with the results. Don’t get me wrong, I’d made peace with the fact I could never be constantly active on my blog and that was fine. But this felt different somehow. I had nothing to offer. I felt lost.

It’s fairly easy for me to see how I arrived at this place. My full-time job as a journalist means I am naturally writing frequently and in turn, having to be creative 5 days out of 7. This, however, leaves little room for my blog. Funnily enough, I started my blog three years ago as an outlet for my writing, as a place where I could be creative while I was in a job which didn’t offer that. Fast forward a few years and I’d never stopped to consider the fate of my blog when I eventually got my dream job. I never even considered if it was possible that my two roles could c0-exist harmoniously. But now, when I get home from work, if I’m being perfectly honest, the last thing I feel inclined to do it stare at my computer for another few hours. More to the point, I don’t actually feel like I have anything left to give.

Last weekend, I was ready to give up. I was still trying to think of content to no avail and I was ready to throw the towel in out of sheer frustration at myself. But then something somewhere switched and I started to think about things a little differently. Ultimately I was trying to force creativity, something I don’t believe is actually possible.

It’s easy to think that if you try to keep pushing through, you will hit a breakthrough. That if you put in the time and effort, you will get there. But I’m not actually sure that’s true any more. Because from what I’ve experienced, the result of this, if your heart is not truly in it, is just simply not worth it. Truth to be told, I’m not actually very good at much. But I do know that I can write and I’m generally quite a creative person. That all of my best work has come naturally to me rather than when it’s had to be forced out and I think this is true of most people. The beauty of creativity is that it can strike when you least expect it. Like that idea that comes to you like a flash when you’re showering or while walking the dog, those are the nuggets that grow into something brilliant.

You don’t need me to tell you that blogging is oversaturated. I don’t say this to be negative, more to point out that putting out insubstantial content is pointless on a platform where you want to stand out and encourage someone to read your blog over the many others they can pick from. If you’ve had to force out a blog post, it’s never going to do you any justice.

And sure, perhaps this isn’t a very revolutionary conversation to have. Maybe you’re reading this thinking, ‘well duh?’ But I know amongst you there will be others who need to be churning out content, just for the sake of being ‘present’ every week, something we are told in all those ‘how to grow a successful blog.’ But I call bullshit. Sure, you don’t need to be posting intelligent, thought-provoking reads all the time, it might just be a recipe for your Nan’s melt-in-the-mouth flapjacks or your holy grail beauty products. The difference is that at all costs, it’s important that what you produce comes directly from, well, the heart. Vom.

So I’m trying a different tact. No longer am I going to make demands of when creativity pays me a visit. Because nobody likes being told what to do. I’m not going to waste my precious time going round and round in circles, desperately trying to clutch at something, at anything for the sake of posting on my blog. I’m going to wait for creativity to strike, all by itself. Because if I can’t offer you the best of what I know I’m capable of, then truly, what is the point? And frankly, you deserve better.