The Strange Story Of How This Exercise Came To Be…
Well, one night about a week ago, I wasn’t feeling that creative. Actually, that’s an understatement. I had a few hours to draw and write things but I wasn’t really feeling particularly motivated. With what I can only describe as dreary weariness, I listened to the same song on Youtube repeatedly and scrolled through article after article about videogame censorship and other fascinating topics.
I only seemed to be barely interested in what I was reading but I didn’t feel like doing anything else. In fact, I felt like I was a machine collecting data or someone gorging themselves on a free buffet long after they feel full. I was reading out of both a sense of jaded fascination and what I can only describe as mechanical duty.
At the back of my mind, my inner critic was saying something like “You should make something, you’ll fall behind on your blog!” and my inner cynic was saying… well, I won’t repeat it here…
One of the other thoughts which crossed my mind went something along the lines of “Maybe I’m just burnt out and taking a break?”. But, somehow, this didn’t just feel right. After all, it just felt like I was wasting time and pissing away moments I could be spending making things. But, at the same time, I didn’t really feel like creating anything.
This feeling was quickly followed by a a feeling of subtle, empty, meaningless horror. It is feelings like this which prevent me from becoming a nihilist or an existentialist, despite how cool both of these philosophies sound.
But, I shrugged and carried on reading, occasionally pausing to restart the Youtube video I was listening to. By now, the song which had filled me with awe and wonder an hour earlier had turned into a drearily boring dirge.
Eventually, with the slow reluctance of someone waking up, I picked up my sketchpad and started doodling until I had the bare skeleton of a drawing. Then, suddenly, I had a better idea for it. Then another one. In fifteen minutes, I’d produced a drawing which I was really proud of (it’s one called “Sojourn In Perdition” and it’ll be posted on here tomorrow, along with an even better drawing called “Poesis Automatica”).
This experience, this magical sense of making something amazingly cool and feeling proud of it, made me think about creativity in general. In particular, it made me think about why I create things. So, I decided to write a list. It surprised me.
Well, I knew it all already. But being reminded of it surprised me and it had the added benefit of making me feel extremely inspired.
So, I just write a list of why I create things? That’s it?
Basically, yes. However, there’s slightly more to it than that….
You have to be absolutely honest with yourself and you should focus on the emotional reasons which drive you to create things. As such, it’s probably best not to show the list to anyone else in case you think “I can’t write that” and start watering down your own thoughts for public consumption – in case anyone thinks that you’re “weird” or “strange” or “pretentious” or whatever.
Because, if you’re doing this excercise properly, at least some of the things on your list will probably sound fairly strange to anyone else. And some things will probably sound more than a bit pretentious to an outside observer too ( eg: one of the things on my list was “To build the world of my imagination”). So, don’t show your list to anyone and don’t censor yourself.
The interesting thing is that you don’t even have to finish your list for this exercise to work (I abandoned mine after writing nine reasons). All you have to do is to keep writing reasons until you feel like creating things is a deeply meaningful and significant thing which (to use a very pretentious and new-agey phrase) you have a duty to your own soul to do.
I don’t mean this in the sense that you have an “obligation” to be creative (that way lies countless guilt trips and creative burnout…), but I mean it in the sense that you should feel that creativity is part (or all) of your purpose on this earth and that creating things is an essential and fun part of who you are.
Because, let’s face it, if you’re worried about feeling uncreative, then creativity is almost certainly part of your purpose in life.
Yes, this exercise might not give you any new creative ideas, but at least it will give you a whole bunch of reasons to create something and remind you why you create things.
And, if you’re still not feeling creative or if you need some more practical advice, then check out my article on writer’s block/artist’s block.
You should probably also check out this awesome article by Carolyn Elliott too (it’s where I learnt the word “poesis”.)
I hope that this article was useful 🙂 (and I hope that it didn’t sound too weird either…)