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Bootless cries - The Ex-Communicator

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August 31st, 2011


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11:28 am - Bootless cries
I often go through quite a miserable time when I have to try to be creative. My thoughts grey out, and nothing comes, and I get frustrated. I feel as if entropy is closing in on me, everything fraying apart, the engines running down. Not to over-dramatise my petty frustrations or anything but I'm experiencing the HEAT DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE here.

I got stuck like that yesterday, trying to write up the new course plan. I was shuffling bits of paper, and typing things and deleting them, and I felt like a failure. My daughter had to go to work mid-afternoon, so I took the opportunity to walk down with her. I thought it would be a nice break but I was stomping along like the worst companion ever. The sky was damp and grey, like my stupid brain. I saw this woman stopped in her car, right in the middle of the road, not even pulled over, just staring at nothing. I'm like THE WHOLE WORLD IS DYSFUNCTIONAL. Nothing will ever get done again.

"The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead."

It's such an oppressive feeling. Anyway, I did get through it, and I am finishing off the course plan now. I wish I could get things done without having to spend half a day wallowing in this ridiculous nuisance.

Mostly posting this in case other people get it too. What do you do? Better to stop work and go see a film do you think? Or is pressing against a grey wall and getting angry with myself a necessary stage? Don't know.

(18 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:altariel
Date:August 31st, 2011 10:56 am (UTC)
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Oh god, I know exactly what you mean. I spent most of yesterday in exactly this kind of funk, fretting about a project that I should have been enjoying. It's like I need the nervous energy and anxiety to be able to create anything. I could bloody well do without it. I resigned myself ages ago to this being part of a project: this admission has alleviated it in some cases, and even when it sneaks up on me in a bad way now, my thinking-mind is able to say, "As you know, this too shall pass..." even while my feeling-mind is wailing and moaning and grinding its teeth.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 31st, 2011 11:19 am (UTC)
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Perhaps it is just a thing that has to happen. When I'm in it I never manage to be very philosophical about it.
[User Picture]
From:altariel
Date:August 31st, 2011 11:23 am (UTC)
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Also I am convinced that there are super-sorted ubermensch out there somewhere, who never feel this way and simply approach each task laid before them with confidence, ease, and gusto. Which makes me feel mortal and judged.

(I am putting off writing a conference paper right now.)
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 31st, 2011 11:41 am (UTC)
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Oh, yes, those people. I tend to imagine nearly everyone else except me is in that category. I can't say how helpful it is to read other people expressing the same doubts.
[User Picture]
From:sjkasabi
Date:August 31st, 2011 11:17 am (UTC)
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It's a necessary stage for me, it seems. Though I've learned to compress it to the minimum necessary amount of grey time by deliberately multi-tasking the attempted creativity with something really boring and process oriented that needs to get done anyway. Then my subconscious gets to sort out what the creative thing really needs to do *and* I get all my old emails deleted, or whatever.

I think, for myself, the greyness is because my subconscious, which is really the creative bit of me hasn't worked out how the thing should be done, but my rational self believes it can do the creation by the numbers and keeps trying anyway. Once my subconscious has worked out what the end product, rational me can backwards engineer a process to materialise the thing in the real world. I've never done more than one real draft of serious pieces of writing - the first time I get stuff down is usually fine bar some polishing. It does mean deadlines can get rather scary though.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 31st, 2011 11:39 am (UTC)
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You sound as if you have got a bit past the stage I am at, and you are more at peace with the process. I agree about the subconscious, and just letting it get on with things. Perhaps I am trying to force it too fast, and that's what the bad feeling is.
[User Picture]
From:splodgenoodles
Date:September 1st, 2011 02:08 am (UTC)
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Perhaps I am trying to force it too fast, and that's what the bad feeling is.

Or maybe this is yet another attempt at rationalising procrastination.
[User Picture]
From:electricant
Date:August 31st, 2011 12:06 pm (UTC)
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Oh yes. I haven't found a way to avoid it. I try to build in the funk time for aspects of my work that need me to inject even an iota of creativity. Writing the monthly newsletter, for example, involves about two days of frustration and staring at blank computer screens and wallowing in the minute bits of filth I end up finding in the corners of everything, and then about half an hour of actual writing.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 31st, 2011 12:11 pm (UTC)
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This is all just so helpful to hear
[User Picture]
From:zornhau
Date:August 31st, 2011 12:22 pm (UTC)

A bit of both..

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Brain research suggests that creativity involves several parallel systems.

So, there's nothing wrong with: Feeding your brain. Letting it digest. Drafting. Editing.

That said, I find MindMapping incredibly useful.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 31st, 2011 04:07 pm (UTC)

Re: A bit of both..

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I think part of the problem is lack of faith in the process, and the rest is the propensity to beat myself up about being lazy.
[User Picture]
From:executrix
Date:August 31st, 2011 12:38 pm (UTC)

Mouton Suis

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I often get paralyzed by the feeling that it is absolutely impossible for me to make this project Great and Brilliant. (And, for some of them, I'm pretty sure it's impossible for it to be Greatly and Brilliantly done at all.) So I have to let myself just totally suck and come up with something lousy and just hope that I can make it mediocre.

Usually, after I've poked at it for awhile, I decide that it's not THAT bad.

Also, on a worst-case scenario basis, of course you want to have a good course plan, but the loss of life from having a course plan that is not optimal probably would fall within parameters of acceptable losses.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 31st, 2011 04:04 pm (UTC)

Re: Mouton Suis

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And revision is where the real writing takes place anyway. I used to have a boss who just ripped everything from everyone to shreds and rebuilt it - very difficult to work with, but at least you knew there wasn't much point in trying to get it right.
From:emmzzi
Date:August 31st, 2011 01:23 pm (UTC)
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I find reading about idfferent things for a bit gets the different bits of my brain working better. For examples, this blog http://blog.creativethink.com/creativity_exercise/index.html
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 31st, 2011 04:05 pm (UTC)
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Those sort of things don't help me, though I know a lot of people swear by them. I think I just need to get through it - well, I have now anyway.
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From:kerravonsen
Date:August 31st, 2011 01:36 pm (UTC)
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Yes and no, for me. I have two kinds of non-creative places I get stuck in.

One is the "I don't know how to do this" panic, which sometimes happens at the start of a project, especially something with a deadline (because if it's something without a deadline, I don't have to do it and I can happily put it on the back burner). I dither and procrastinate and do something else, but it's the kind of "stuck" where I just have to buckle down and write something anyway. Because I know in my head that if I have something, even if it's crap, then I can do something with it, but a blank screen is a blank screen. I know it in my head, but my heart is whining, saying "Mummy, do I have to?" And my head says "Yes, dear, you have to."

The second type usually strikes in the middle of a project, where I am irrationally convinced that the whole thing is crap and will never work and that I don't know the good from the bad so I can't fix it either. That type is usually fixed by stopping, stepping away, and sleeping on it.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 31st, 2011 04:06 pm (UTC)
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The Internet is so good for procrastination too. I'll just do a bit more research... and an hour later I'm on TV Tropes or something.
[User Picture]
From:kalypso_v
Date:August 31st, 2011 01:47 pm (UTC)

But at my back I always hear...

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...Maria Callas in the final moments of Pasolini's Medea, standing on the walls of Corinth screaming down at Jason "It's useless! Nothing is possible any more!"

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