April has slipped just right past me and looking back at it it was yet another dark month, yet another month with no blog post and none of those YouTube videos I wanted to put out this year. It's been a frustrating year so far and yet it seems like turning 25 11 days ago has rendered me even more thoughtful than the mood I was in before that number has been looming beyond the horizon. I've been in a creative rut for what feels like months now. So what do I do with a creative rut? Write about it, because deep within my core, the first instinct of mine is still to face the blank page head on and produce absolutely terrible word vomit to process it.
The before is easy. Before I was in my creative rut I was in a creative high! Last year was good. 2018 was the first year where I started to feel comfortable with my letters. I did my first Calligraphy event, I started meeting people in my local lettering community and have immersed myself deeper in this world of letters. And for the first time I didn't feel like a beginner anymore. I realized that I did have a certain amount of skill. I realized being able to see all the mistakes I did was what set me apart from the past self that was proud of everything it produced on a page with a pen. But then the new year came, and with it, the darkness.
It's such an important word. Being able to review your work with an emotionless approach to me still is critical in the way of improvement. But then again, suddenly, I found myself in this position where everything I looked at – sucked. And it was a bad place to be in. Throw in very little daylight, 9-10h shifts at work and icy cold and you got yourself the perfect position to just wanna get in bed, away from your desk, binge Netflix all evening and forget you even have an Instagram account where you once vowed to post every day.
Once you are there, in this space, in this darkness, every time you get up and make something of this thing that by now you might sometimes call art, you hate it. Passionately. You post on Social Media and some days all you tell the people out there is what pen you used and how busy you are. And it's true, you're busy. But what's worse, you're uninspired. and that is slowly but surely becoming your absolute biggest enemy and the only curse word you start to fear.
It's as if the entire world has suddenly stopped being the way it was before. You scroll through your feed and everything starts to look the same, everything starts to merge and you ask yourself, why am I still doing it? It's not like the amount of letters changes suddenly. It's not like the style you have built will evolve away and become something new. Everything is terrible. You get so frustrated and uninspired you stop posting for days.
You realize your biggest problem with Instagram. You realize your biggest problem with the creative rut, this black hole that is still sucking you in deeper and deeper into its deepest depths and making you feel frustrated and empty and uninspired. At this point you're so deep in the hole you turn to Instagram and tell your followers in one word-limit-bursting gigantic caption how much you despise the script you are writing, how frustrated you are with everything. And what do they do? The video performs better than any post has in weeks. You get inexplicable amounts of comments. None of them answering to your cry from the black hole, no, it's worse. They are raving. They are complimenting the words that are slowly shoving you deeper into the darkness. And what does it do? Rendering you frustrated and so freaking uninspired.
At this point, you do what you have always done when you fell in love and then suddenly faced this inexplicable conflict. You're not new to a creative rut. You've been a story-writer for over a decade and the creative ruts you've had with writing have led to so many wonderful things as soon as you stepped away from the prose. You found coding. You found – Calligraphy. Maybe reverse-engineering this thing might help. And maybe, taking a break from word-writing (in Calligraphy) might result in some word-writing (of a story). Because damn, you haven't done any non-fiction writing in months.
It's April 27th. One day. Only one day left being Twenty-Four. At this point you feel like everything might actually change as soon as midnight and with it, your birthday, hits. Maybe after, everything will be quiet. Everything will be back. If only you can fill one page. One page to get you back into the creativeness that used to come so easily. One never cherishes the simple things until they are suddenly gone. Creative juices sure are not as easy-flowing in that black hole.
But that blank page, it suddenly becomes that little white rectangle, beaming at you, like the light at the end of a tunnel. And there's the flicker. Not from a torch. It's the blinking of the cursor. And it's busy, following the movement of your hands.
That blank page, it's no longer blank. Neither are the dozen following it. And now, they're over a hundred. It only took 11 days, 25 in front of your age, to get to above 25k words again. Writing again. Feeling good about the creative juices. Not too sure about the Calligraphy ones, not quite yet.
Writing again. Posting again. Buying new pens and feeling them between your fingers. Lettering words and not taking a picture of it. Exploring a new medium.
Last weekend, I went to a Sign Painting class. Suddenly, I felt like a beginner again, I suck, but at the same time, I feel that initial excitement again. And suddenly it makes me excited to explore again, what is possible with that exact amount of letters and strokes and lines. Suddenly, that black hole that has become my second home, somehow doesn't feel as comfortable anymore. I'm still here. But it's no longer that dark. It's no longer as endless. It's hopeful?
I don't know when the after comes. Especially since I know every After will turn into a Before. Because finding yourself in this creative rut, finding yourself in a black hole with no hope of getting back, is part of it. It can't always run smoothly. It can't always be good and wonderful. We can't feel inspired every day. We can't do the same things forever. But if something you've made doesn't want to feel the same, return, to something that hasn't feel the same for a while. Distance helps. Time helps. Newness helps. I'm on the mend. It's weird, to say it like that. As if I had some sort sickness. Uninspiratiocia. Sounds nasty, doesn't it? Don't worry, you'll get over it, and as far as I'm informed it's not contagious. It's antidote however, absolutely is. And that is – inspiration. And today, it has returned.