Creative momentum

When things are going good, from a creative standpoint, they typically continue to go good. One thing leads to another, and before long you’ve spilled out several great things in a matter of days. It’s the nature of creativity – it feeds off of itself.

In all things creative, momentum drives us from average to heady.

When I encounter these peaks of momentum, I cherish them. Like anyone who considers themselves part of the creative industry – whether a freelance artist or a copy slinger – I understand the fragility of creative momentum. It’s easy to rest when you’re at that peak, to coast for a while as your mind continues to work. But you pay for it later.

Oh, man. Do you pay for it later.

Let’s quickly define something. By “creativity,” I’m talking about the act of creating something original. Not just thinking quirkily, but – in my case – actually writing something, or photographing something.

Thanks to our recent move and a lack of opportunity, the past month has seen my creative momentum hit a screeching halt. It’s hit the bottom, begun on the next hill in earnest, and rolled backward, resting finally in a valley of uninspired funk. Some call it a rut. I call it a chasm.

Some may find solace in this. It has certainly brought me back to earth. During those times when I have convinced myself that there is such a thing as creative talent, that it’s not simply a tweak of perspective and is an honest skill (and trust me, despite my sarcastic leanings otherwise, I rarely feel confident enough to claim a heightened creative talent) it’s humbling to find myself at the bottom again.

Struggling for ideas. As if creativity was something you had to work at.

And there’s the rub. Even the most creative people have to work at this. Even those to whom writing – or photography, design, music, acting – come naturally.

In fact, the people who work the hardest at being creative are the people who are the most successful at it.

They’re successful because they never stop trying. During their downtime, they stay creative. They continue thinking. They continue working. They are always working.

Charging up the same hill. Gaining speed to overcome the troughs. Continuously thinking harder to maintain the momentum of creativity, to gain speed, to leave the uninspired moments behind.

For me, it’s one blog post, a handful of pictures, and a few projects for work. Nothing amazing. But at least I can say I’m finally beginning the climb out of this chasm.

Again. And certainly not for the last time.

This was lovingly handwritten on May 27th, 2009