Geography of the Mind

The real estate of my moods...

Some call it "writer's block" but that seems to me a term more for professional writers who must create some work on a deadline. I have no deadline except the inevitable one that we all face. Besides, it's not just about writing for me either, it's about everything, the panoramic landscape of living.

Over the years I have come to understand intellectually that a lull in my creative self has value but the knowledge makes it no easier nonetheless. It is because I tend to view life itself as a creative endeavor. I'm usually figuring out new ways to do things, see situations in another way, ponder different points of view, read something stimulating, engaging in interesting conversation. It also means acts of creativity, snapping a picture here or there as it strikes me, writing something, creating a video and occasionally a piece of art. I used to do music until I lost my singing voice, an adjustment that caused a real crisis, a story for another time. I do believe though that event helped me understand the terrain a creative soul deals with much better, teaching me a lot about coping with a dry spell. I've never quite understood how some people repeat every day in much the same way and never give it a thought, I see that as incredibly boring, although evidently they do not. To each his own.

When I'm experiencing a lull in creativity, such as I am now, life seems flat, dull, sometimes melancholy and at its worst, fortunately rarely, depressingly black. My field of vision is narrowed and not by choice. It is a good thing I have a strong sense of self (some would argue, especially my sister, far too strong) and I recognize that it will pass and usually when it does, I burst with a maniacal creativity which would leave some (especially my sister) to believe I'm manic depressive. That's an incorrect diagnosis, it is much more mood swings, going from a lull to being charged up with ideas. I tend to think that is not unique among creative thinkers.

The real estate of my mind crosses this Saharan desert condition, with meager oasis scattered in between, every once in awhile and if I wanted to I could map the path it takes. It's enough that I know it is usually seasonal and occurs around this time every year, briefly in the very dead of summer, again somewhere around the beginning of winter. I can't be bothered to survey it except with fundamental navigational tools to get out of the terrain. Road maps to steer myself away have proved useless to me since every time I've tried to avoid it, it's actually made it worse, steering me towards believing it's a natural occurrence to recharge myself. Easier to consider it like a cactus absorbing stored water for lean times, since by the time I'm past it, I'm too engaged again to chart it. I'm busy moving on in the lush Sonoran desert, marveling at how the minimalist landscape maximizes what it has, utilizing it as inspiration while recharging from the taproot for more water.

The best anecdote to this vista of plodding mind and parched brain is doing exactly this...writing about it. It is an effort, sometimes more so than others. Thankfully I've learned from being in rougher territory, the aforementioned losing my singing voice, that this pause too will pass and my inherent nature is to be always learning and creating something.


  1. I think I understand to some extent the "empty" feeling that goes along with not creating anything for a while. I've experienced the same thing any number of times, and though I can't say it's ever really depressed me it has made me wonder what was going on. I think depression and confusion are pretty close together when it comes to reactions to creativity's "temporary avoidance".

    I take at least two positive things from it (and I don't see them when I'm in the middle of wondering but they're obvious later):

    1) Creativity (at least as I feel it in myself) never stays away for long and has always returned with force.

    1a) Upon returning it always offers up the feeling that it had been lurking inside my unconscious (or otherwise just outside of any place I could perceive), doing the work it had to do and maybe keeping me out of the way for a little while.

    Maybe it's foolish to think this, but I do: I believe that anything "creative" that I come up with had its start somewhere else, that some other power helped me out, made the connections of thought, and stuffed the ideas into my head and heart at the times it knew I could make good use of them. I think I have a really, really perceptive silent partner in anything creative I manage to do. I have no idea who or what that partner is but it always feels good to receive the ideas.

    I guess I boil it down to: the creative thoughts are gifts, and maybe we wouldn't appreciate them if we had complete 24/7/365 access to the source. I don't know; just a possibility.

    Very cool and thought-provoking post, JR!

  2. You've hit the crux of what I was getting at with a lot more clarity, especially with your two points. I hadn't thought in a very long time about the idea that as you succinctly put it: "creative thoughts are gifts, and maybe we wouldn't appreciate them if we had complete 24/7/365 access to the source."

    That's absolutely dead on. My post (and probably the next two that I've already written) seemed a bit muddled to me but that's because I'm working through my thoughts and seeming lack of inspiration.

    Your commentary is quite insightful because it reminded me of basic precepts that all creative people need to bear in mind...except that it's hard to when in the middle of a creative funk. I've referred in the past to your idea of "silent partner" as the "invisible hand of the creator" but I like your way of putting it much better.

    Sometimes I think we take things for granted and forget they are gifts and should appreciate them as such. That said, I'm seeming to come out of my little Saharan venture and ideas are popping up again.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!