Listen. I love my job, I love my career: most genuinely and most sincerely. I think I’ve rallied around such themes in multiple posts in the past. So, based on that fact, we can correctly assume that I spend more than 75% of my time awake in front of a screen.
Back in the day, I started my career as a creative writer (after a very short stint as a 3rd grade teacher). I was a hopeful, driven fantasy/YA novelist, spending endless hours dreaming up worlds and adventures in text form. Currently, I have roughly 6 manuscripts over 300 pages each in development. Crazy, right? I dream of working on them. Actually, that’s an incorrect statement these days. The dreams are there, yes, but the work has suffered a difficult, if not negative, blow. The time I set aside for writing contends with these constants:
- Work distractions (happens with a 24/7 gig, especially one I love),
- Mindless TV consumption,
- Daydreaming in space,
- Chores (working from home does not make chore-time easy, it actually makes it harder),
- Catching up with social media and personal emails,
- Couch-butt pain from sitting all day,
- Communication with a somewhat-long-distance beau,
- Oh, and I can’t forge—Squirrel!
- Things that sparkle,
- And the biggest issue of all: MASSIVE SCREEN-TIME OVER-SATURATION
I’m digitally exhausted at the end of a day from staring at screens, and my eyes and brain scream: No more text, pllllleeeeeaaaasssse! I cannot tell you how much this admission breaks my heart (seriously, I’m tearing up). It makes my writer’s heart feel like a failure, which has translated into feeling creatively stunted in my own work (if not beyond).
But, as Mikey said, Goonies never say die! And it’s not in my personality to quit on things I’m passionate about. Over the last year, I’ve tried every alternative opportunity to get around this writing block. I’ve made a Facebook group, and I’ve recorded chapters on Youtube and SoundCloud so I can hear how it sounds outside my head/off the paper, also for friends to listen to in the car on the way to work and give feedback, and to find a new way to rev my creative-engine. I’ve tried printing out copies and hand-editing (which ends up expensive, cumbersome, messy, etc). No luck. Creatively stunted. [Insert epic Sob!]
My cousin in Columbia, MI owns one of those popular “drink and paint” studios called Canvas on Broadway, where you can attend a class and enjoy some drinky-poos with friends or on your own. It always sounded like a fun concept to me, but her studio was so far away. About a month ago I found and attended a session at a similar studio here in the Bay Area of California. Everyone in the class was encouraged to work on a similar “model” painting, under the tutelage of a local artist. My evening’s model-painting looked like a black tree coming out of a pack of melted Starburst candy. Basically, I wasn’t a fan. So, I went rogue — and ran with the idea of a tree in a barren landscape of my own choosing. By the time the class ended, I was 50% finished and had BIG PLANS. I spent the next week buying paints, new fancy brushes, and I got to work on my own at home. But this painting-thing didn’t stop at the end of that project.
For one of my clients I needed to build a unique Pinterest strategy. It had been a while since I was last – voluntarily – on that platform (it can be addicting, to put it mildly). As I was scrolling through a particular theme, I started noting images that would be fun to paint: inspirational quotes, unique animals, kooky robots, fantastical places. A creative hunger rumbled in my belly.
Flash forward to now: Thanks to a massive sale at Michael’s, I have 15 new canvases of various sizes, a large list of pins to recreate and alter from Pinterest, and a growing stack of drying half-completed paintings resting in my kitchen. I cannot tell you what a relief this activity has been to my creative soul. I was so worried that maybe I was tapped, spent, dunzo. Now, I spend my non-social nights and weekends pixie-skipping around the dining room table where my latest creation awaits, covered in paint (my roommate apparently thinks it’s hilarious to let me go for hours with paint smeared across my unknowing-face), and giggling at whatever mischief I’m concocting on canvas.
I’m not awesome, but that’s not the point. When you’re creative, you LOVE the challenge of changing something mediocre into something unique — building a story with or without words!
I KNOW I’ll get back to writing, no doubt soon, but for the moment? It’s quite the luxury to try something new.
Director of Digital Strategy
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