Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

When Creativity (Temporarily) Dries Up

with 5 comments

As I’ve said for a few weeks now on my blog, I’ve been dealing with a family health issue that has pushed almost everything else to the back of the line. As that seems to be resolving, my creative life is re-emerging…and as such, I thought I’d write a blog about why I think my creativity (save my editing work) more or less dried up during the recent emergency.

You see, we all have so much energy. (I’ve heard this called “spoon theory” or even “so many f**ks to give,” so whatever terminology works for you.) And when most of it is going to manage an emergency of some sort, there’s just not a lot left.

As there are probably more people out there who have to deal with this sort of thing, or maybe have dealt with it in the past, I know I’m not alone in dealing with the lack of energy or utter exhaustion that dealing with a crisis (along with continuing to do as much of your own work as humanly possible without collapse). But it is difficult, while you’re in the midst of it, to remember that…you feel isolated, almost the loneliest person in the world, and your own needs go to the back burner while you take care of someone else.

This has been called “caregiver fatigue,” and is a known phenomenon.

What makes me feel like myself, more than anything, is to create, whether it’s words, music, or a combination of the two. (That’s how I saw my work on CHANGING FACES, at any rate. I still intend to cut a companion CD of some sort down the line, if I can raise the money for such and regain the energy and strength to play my clarinet at top form.) But I can’t create like this, or at least can’t create very much.

No one can.

You just don’t have enough spoons to play with, as creativity takes a lot of spoons — far more than it seems at the time.

I know, from past experience with traumatic events, that my creative impulses will come back online after I’ve regained strength, rest, and health again. (As dealing with the crisis, especially coming out of two full months of illness, wasn’t easy.) And I look forward to the day I can wake up with a story idea, happily write it down, and think hard about what I’m going to do next without exhausting myself even further.

However, I’m not there yet. And admitting that isn’t easy, because I want to be known as a strong person, someone who can do anything she puts her mind to…someone who writes ten thousand words a week, maybe, as I did while my late husband Michael was alive, and haven’t managed to do consistently ever since.

I think overall that the important thing to remember, if you’re in a situation like I’ve been, is that so long as you’re still alive, and so long as you are doing your best, your talents will re-emerge once there’s sufficient energy for them.

And as a persistent person (I’ve sometimes been called almost pathologically persistent, which I don’t think is exactly a compliment), it’s all I can do now to remember that, and trust — as my niece, Jenni, also a writer, told me — that my creativity isn’t absent. It’s just brooding, waiting, and will burst out of me again once the energy has been restored to allow it to flourish.

What have you done in similar situations to nurture your creativity? Tell me about it in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 17, 2018 at 2:30 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Hi Barb.
    Oh yes I know this all too well. You truly have my sympathies.
    Family Worries. Personal Health, they can stifle the creativity because you are trying to deal with them, and a guilt almost seeps in a times ‘I shouldn’t be devoting time here on my writing’ and other permutations on this theme. Or as you say, the sheer fatigue takes over.
    Fatigue and ill-health I personally can deal with, and let it ride. The same situation does upset my wife who has several health issues which leaves her too tired to write her poetry to her standard
    Then there can be distractions, not just leaky roofs or squeaky doors. I’ve been incandescent for a couple of weeks over the political situation in the UK, not the govt (for once) but my nominal homeland, the Left…that’s a long story. I had to let rip on my blog; it was quite a challenge not to come across as a far-right supporter, I managed to channel it by saying how much fresher it was to be an environment where folk talked about writing rather than displaying hypocrisy, ignorance, or ‘fashionable’ views. That was turning into a real block.
    I wish you well, hope that things will slowly get better.
    Even a few words on paper or laptop helps though, it’s something.
    All the best
    Roger

    Woebegone but Hopeful

    April 18, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    • Thanks, Roger. I appreciate what you’ve said here.

      I’m sorry about the political situation and how it’s affected you. I know here, we have a lot going on as well (as I’ve discussed on my blog before), and sometimes it is overwhelming as well. We, as individuals, can’t do much except try to vote against people who don’t represent our interests at all. But collectively, if we band together, we can usually effect some sort of positive change even though it takes time and energy and a lot of effort.

      That’s hard, though, when you’re already exhausted. (Just sayin’.)

      Anyway, thank you very much for your understanding, Roger. 🙂 Do take care, and my best to your wife also.

      Barb Caffrey

      April 18, 2018 at 2:25 pm

      • Thanks Barb for your kind wishes.
        You’re quite right. I felt so much better going onto WP and just reading about writing and the joys of it. Here’s hoping for more and more positive energy and subsequent change.

        Woebegone but Hopeful

        April 18, 2018 at 3:29 pm

      • I second that wish, Roger.

        🙂

        And I’m glad you feel better after going onto WordPress and reading various blogs (including mine) as well as writing your own. 😀

        Barb Caffrey

        April 18, 2018 at 10:49 pm

      • 👍👍

        Woebegone but Hopeful

        April 19, 2018 at 2:41 am


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