Slug Time

After I’ve met a deadline I always have the feeling of floating on a raft that’s broken free of its tether. Free, light, and utterly out of control. Even writing this I don’t know what my next sentence will be; my head is empty. I try and make myself work, but am distracted by the slightest thing. I feel hungry and full up at the same time. I don’t know what I want to do, what I should do.

Still Life Photography by Eryl Shields

I’m like a street in which nobody lives, a party to which all the guests have failed to arrive, a field that has been so intensively farmed not even weeds can grow there. I need the cognitive equivalent of red clover to replenish the nitrogen, or a barrow load of manure.

Part of me wants to embrace this stage: go to bed and read; wander aimlessly round a gallery full of Picassos; sit on a sun warmed rock and watch the storm come in, but I have responsibilities. And so I am filling, like a drain in a monsoon, with a sense of resigned panic.

I don’t even know why I’m telling you this, there’s nothing you can do so it’s not a cry for help. I’m not suicidal. I just wish this feeling would go away so I can get on with being myself. So what is it? Am I tired, or just lazy? Or, is this the dreaded creative block that, I’ve heard, can last for years?

I’m pretty sure I’m not lazy, long periods of working 16 hour days have satisfied me of that, regardless of the efforts of the school I attended, and my ex husband to convince me otherwise. Actually, I don’t believe in laziness. It’s just a word we use to undermine people who work differently to the accepted norm. It is possible that I’m merely tired, and a wee break will sort me out. Though I’ve had almost a week of doing bugger all, and the deadline wasn’t that arduous. This leaves

Creative Block

What is that then? According to GoodTherapy.Org

A creative block might be experienced by anyone, for a number of reasons. Many writers, artists, and musicians reported periods of stalled creativity at some point in their careers, F. Scott Fitzgerald and cartoonist Charles Schultz among them.

I know, too, that the poet Louise Glück suffered a debilitating two year period of writers’ block before writing The Wild Iris, which won her a Pulitzer. She got over it by gardening so intensely she began to wonder what a poem written by a flower might be like. I don’t have two years, so back to Good Therapy:

It can be difficult to get past a creative block, but often simply becoming aware of when, how, and why a creative block develops can help a person work to address the creative block and prevent it from returning.

And here’s their list of possible causes (which one, if any, applies to me?):

The depletion of all creative energy after a fully immersed period of creating – possibly

  • Self-doubt, both pertaining to ability and talent – I have been susceptible to this, but I think I’ve overcome it.
  • Repeated rejection of one’s work – recently my work has been accepted by just about everyone I’ve submitted to, though that has made no difference to my material circumstances so there may be something in this.
  • Anxiety regarding the outcome of a project or task – unlikely.
  • The need for perfection – not something I suffer from any more.
  • The dependence on substances to be creative – no, though if I could afford substances who knows?
  • Onset of an illness or medical condition I suppose I’ll find out if this is so in due time.
  • A sudden loss of meaning and purpose in one’s work – possible.
  • Negative self-talk or criticism it’s not that I don’t look at other people’s work sometimes and think it beyond my capabilities, but I know I’m still learning, so don’t think this applies. That said, I do worry that I’m running out of time.

So, what now?

The allotment, I think, is calling. Should I immerse myself in that and forget art for a while? Maybe I’ll find an interesting way to photograph weeds, or come back one day and write a poem from the perspective of a community strawberry patch…

Meanwhile if there’s anyone out there with a solution I’d welcome your thoughts.


6 thoughts on “Slug Time

  1. Oh, I like this a lot. Much of it resonates. I don’t believe in creative blocks so why do I procrastinate? Because for me it’s hard to dig deep. I hesitate on the brink of that commitment knowing that once I’m in, there is a huge uncertainty of who I’ll be or where I’ll end up being.


    1. This is most interesting, Carolyn, it is hard to dig deep, and I don’t think I’d considered the uncertainty of self-hood angle. This is something I’ll examine in my journal for some time.


  2. Sadly I don’t have a solution for you as I’m in the same position. I can really identify with your list. I’m burying myself in walking, and in gardening hoping to find the exit from my lack of creativity. x


  3. Nicely done. I have no point of reference, personally. I’ve never expected my work to go anywhere, have never put it out in a serious manner, and when dry spells hit, I just stop and sooner or later it starts itself up again. Perhaps if I’d taken it seriously it would’ve increased the pressure and the blocks would be more serious and longstanding. How ironic is that?


    1. I think you have something: I’m taking it too seriously, it’s no longer play but work, even Instagram has lost its charm. Now I need to work out how to release the pressure.


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