There are cupboards in my home into which I shove things that are too hard to think about. Consequently, I live in fear of opening the doors in case I'm avalanched by the enclosed mess. Now that the closed doors of winter are being thrown open to the warm spring air, I've been thinking about the many things to which I need to apply the notion of ‘spring cleaning’—besides my cupboards. One of these is my writing. Like many, I suffer from winter blues. The lack of light and the cold sap my motivation and energy. There are days I can’t put my fingers to the keyboard or pen to paper; when the doona seems life’s best option. The last few weeks have been particularly difficult. A perfectionist by nature, I bring to the blank page the weight of my expectations. Before I've even begun to write, I'm worrying about whether the work will be good enough, who will care and what if I can’t do it? It’s easy for all these thoughts to spiral quickly into what’s the point? After that kind of thinking the search for the doona begins in earnest.
In response, I started to explore these creative downs. Through reading the work of Eric Maisel, I discovered they are not entirely seasonal. He makes the point that both creating and not creating provoke anxiety in creative people—it’s intrinsic to the creative process. Taking one of Maisel’s ideas, I’m employing a new strategy which is to document my writing anxieties by keeping an ‘anxiety awareness journal’ for the next month. While I seem to be unable to produce new work at the moment, I can certainly bleat about the fact, even if I'm my only audience. Given that creative people live with anxiety for many reasons and at many levels, this method aids in identifying and challenging the specifics of what is behind the procrastination, fear, blues or any other word you want to give the ‘not writing’.
I recognise the irony of writing a blog about not being able to write. Perhaps acknowledgment does start the road to recovery. So, that’s my plan but before I begin, I need a cup of tea, a biscuit and an hour or so to edit my cupboards...Hey, at least I'm in writing metaphor mode.