Photo: Lonnie Hartley – (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


While I’ve discovered a lot through exploring the value of our own calling (link here), I’ve been in a constant struggle against what I call ‘Creative Anxiety.’ To me, this is the tension of “I should be creating, but I’m not for whatever reason.”

As creatives, we have a drive to create that can become an unfortunate burden. We can’t turn it off, ignore it, or placate it through pseudo-efforts of creativity. We know when we are and when we are not taking our own creativity seriously, and that calling within us never allows us to settle for the latter. This can lead to self-inflicted paralysis, and a  dislike of the world around us. Over time, we begin to feel trapped between our drive to create and an often unrealistic expectation of ourselves. Left unchecked, it can lead to devastating consequences, and it doesn’t surprise me that so many artists end up taking their own lives. While I’ve explored this topic of Creative Anxiety before (link here), the practicals of how to avoid it are still components to an ongoing journey of mine.

Since my hope is that this site becomes a safe-haven for creatives to share their ideas and sharpen each other across craft-boundaries (painters to photographers to dances to…etc), I’m excited to share any progress I make on this common struggle that plagues our joy in engaging our craft.

Here we go…

Every since I left the SCBWI writer’s conference in 2015, I have been treating writing as ‘my other part time job’ instead of just a hobby. This has had two very real consequences. The first is that I’ve written more words in the past two years than I have written in the previous fifteen before that, combined. This has been fun and mostly rewarding.

However, the other consequence is that I’ve developed a personal expectation to have three blog posts (two of them spoken word poetry pieces) done in addition to making some headway on my current work in progress (WIP). While waking up at 5:30 AM to spend 30-45 minutes with Jesus and then writing until I had to go to work…worked for awhile. I slowly began to burn out. 5:30 turned into 6:30 with zero writing time leaving everything for the weekend. Anxiety crept in, and it began to crush me.

My writing time now had ‘real’ deadlines and ‘real’ demands (all self-inflicted), writer’s block wasn’t just unfortunate, it was devastating. My internal pressure to meet my expectations began to cook me alive. I was always anxious, my writing sucked, wasn’t fun, and so the word counts were always low. This drove me to put in more and more hours further worsening the anxiety. I was distant from my wife, distant from my friends, started hating people (as now they were just roadblocks between me and my writing), and didn’t like who I was turning into.

“I don’t like who you are becoming,” my wife said to me after I had fallen apart in tears at our kitchen table one afternoon.

She was right.

Something had to change. And it did.

Hopefully my story is resonating with you. Now that I’ve framed it, next week I’ll go into what I actually did (and am doing) that’s fundamentally changing the way I look at writing.

 

4 thoughts

  1. Ohhhh man, I can relate! Once I set myself to be serious about something–even the things that are supposed to be fun and life-giving–it can often become a crushing law. My own blog has also experienced the feast-or-famine caused by pushing myself too hard and then burning out.

    Incidentally, I’m still burnt out. 😛

    Eagerly looking forward to hearing how you pulled yourself out of this cycle.

    1. You’re not alone!!

      I think ‘feast-or-famine’ is great way to put it. There can be a ton of activity as a fresh wave of creativity hits our shore followed by the despair of watching it go back out to sea. I sincerely hope that you find Wednesday’s post helpful!

      Thanks for your comment 🙂

  2. Good stuff Avery!

    ‘real’ demands (all self-inflicted) – that sticks.

    Treating writing like a part-time job can be great. We just have to make sure it doesn’t get in the way of our full time job of being a loving, kind and available husband, friend, and follower of Jesus.

    It’s hard… I usually mess it up.

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