The Struggle of Creativity

Life is so hard sometimes.

It’s hard when you know how long your journey is, and it’s harder still when you’re honest about the hills you face.

I’m having one of those “hard” mornings.

Nothing’s really going on. There’s nothing new I know today that I didn’t know yesterday. There’s no horribly adverse turn of events.

It was a hard weekend that required I swallow my pride and accept that there are an awful lot of areas in my life that are entirely outside of my control right now.

It’s times like these I hate it when people talk about positive visualization or the like, because I know how little I can affect a few things that can be monster bad for me. However, what I can change is my reaction to that knowledge.

Right now, I’m facing the possibility that my company may have to do layoffs. It’s in the air, but I love that my employers are so open with us, so we can plan ahead. We’re just facing the economic reality that’s the status quo in much of Vancouver’s film industry right now. It’s been a weird winter. Is it the dollar hurting our business? Did Olympics road closures create too many routing headaches for shoot coordinators and other cities seem more appealing for short-term shooting projects? No one really knows, but we’ll know soon & everyone’s being positive.

For now, I can make sure bills are paid, life is simplified, and I’m careful about where my fiscal priorities lie.

I’m using it as an opportunity.

An opportunity to adopt better spending habits and try to think of ways to eat healthier, faster, cheaper, and fresher, to have quicker and more energetic meals, so less time is spent in the kitchen and more time is spent creating. If I have to be a domestic goddess less, then I’ll work more on my book.

If I have to be frugal, I’ll be frugal in an attempt to figure out how to cut more work out of my life over the long-term, so I can get through my book writing as quick as possible.

Because, ultimately, I believe in my talent and ability… even if I’m scared as fuck about writing a memoir about ME and having to sustain YOUR interest for some 280 pages or so.

I’ve turned the page on the paralyzing fear. Friday, I spoke with a woman who seems to be instilling herself into my life in the role of a “mentor”. I don’t even know her name — just what she goes by on Twitter. You don’t need to know THAT name. But she knows her writing shit, man. I’ve not done all the fancy classes on writing, but I’ve read WRITERS writing about the craft of writing and how they successfully do what they do, and I know she’s saying all the right stuff. The systems she’s helping me with should prove infinitely valuable.

Me, I don’t give a fuck what the schools are teaching — I want practical systems that work in the constraints of MY talent & craft. That’s what lady’s dishing out, too — pragmatism that suits a little Steff we know.

But she told me I sound like one of those writers for whom it all comes so easily that I think, “UGH, I can’t POSSIBLY be good at this — shouldn’t it be MUCH harder than this if, you know, I were churning out anything with worth at all?”

And I laughed and laughed and laughed. “Exactly. Yep. Nail, meet head. BANG on.”

Because it’s completely true. You’d be completely wrong if you thought I spent much time writing these posts. They seldom take longer than an hour, or even an hour. I can really turn out something along the lines of 1,500 to 2,000 decent words in an hour, on most good days.

It wasn’t always that way. I was creatively blocked for six years. I just had jack shit to say. I’m not sure I really believe in creative block now… I sort of go there sometimes but I realize it’s not that I’m creatively blocked, it’s that I’m mentally cluttered. It’s all about focus. And how much you’re willing to force through the obstacles for the meaty, hurty bits under it all.

Like the body recoils the instant before an anticipated injury, so too does the brain in the act of creating. When you think it’s going to hurt most, the heart of it moves a bit away from you. You have to really want it in order to take it. Your choice. Your brain will interfere, but like getting a needle, you have to remind it that this won’t really hurt — not for long, anyhow.

And I’ve taught myself to do that. I can reveal some pretty incredibly raw stuff when I’m willing to accept two things: one) it can’t hurt me anymore and two) you probably kinda know where I’m coming from, so it’s better that one of us have the guts to address it than the elephant stay sitting in the corner, right?

For now, I’m fighting to get out of my own corner. I think this next year or so is going to be the best but also the hardest year of my life. I want it that bad… I’m willing to make every sacrifice I need to make, because I’m fucking tired of getting in the way of myself.

Yeah. Writing comes naturally. Yeah. I sometimes take it for granted. But, yeah, I need it as much as I need air.

I would rather write words than organize words. I’d rather be picking at emotional scabs and digging through the existential trash that is my past than shuffling paper and figuring out scene orders. I do writing, I don’t construct it.

Inside, though, I know I have the ability to do both. Doesn’t mean I’m underestimating the hike it’s gonna get to climb those mountains, though.

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