Some of the best artists were inspired by their sadness. Poe, Dickens and van Gogh immediately come to mind. Maybe inspired isn’t the right word though. Maybe they were driven forward by depression; shoved to push their emotion through the only outlet they knew and in the process creating art that lasted through the ages. I’d say more of us, however are simply halted in our tracks by it.
When I say depression I don’t simply mean sadness or loss; I include apathy, lethargy and self-doubt in this grouping because all affect artists in a similar way: they are feelings that either create art within us or prevent us from doing so. I myself am a victim of the latter kind of depression. When I’m filled with self-doubt, every word that appears upon the page is one I neither trust nor feel that I can follow through with. On my down days, I’ll type out a page, absolutely hate it and not touch the keyboard for the rest of the day.
I’ve tried pushing through it. On rare occasions that has worked but more often than not I end up junking everything I’ve written that day because there’s simply no spark of inspiration in it. It’s the sad ramblings of a distracted mind. It might be different if I was a poet or a painter or a songwriter where stream-of-consciousness creation can often lead to genius, but as a fiction writer if I’m not in the game and in the head of my characters that work is going nowhere.
Before I give you the wrong idea with this entry, let me stop and tell you that I don’t have a solution to this dilemma. There won’t be a magical “ah-ha” proclamation at the end of this page that tells you how to pull yourself up by your bootstraps while feeling down and get back to creating great art. I’m a seeker just like you are. This is a blog of questions more than answers, no matter how much I wish it to the contrary. I want to know what you want to know, and in voicing these questions I hope to begin to see answers peeking through the fog, or perhaps even discover that those answers lie within the questions themselves.
Perhaps the ups and downs and how we deal with them are what make us alive. We can’t be at our “best” every day or even most days because on any given day we will only be who we are. I can’t put on a magic hat and suddenly be the best Rob there can be. I can only be today’s Rob. I think…there’s something beautiful in that. My inspiration will come not out of pushing and pulling and fighting it, but out of letting it happen. If you believe yours comes from a similar direction, try to be proud of that, not frustrated by it.
You know the adage about the quietest of us often having the most profound things to say? Maybe that’s a good metaphor for some of us. We sit. We listen. We live, and then suddenly we open our mouths and something beautiful comes out.
I may be back to being frustrated with myself tomorrow, but today that realization makes me smile 🙂
It’s Tuesday. Tuesdays are usually high-energy, super productive days for me. It just so happens that this particular Tuesday is the day after Memorial Day, and therefore feels like a Monday. What should be a productive day for me is turning into an aimless slog because I am generally useless on the first day of the work week. Whine whine, cry me a river, I know. So what does one do on a day like this when demand is high and energy is so low you can barely feel it? Hell if I know, but I thought I’d throw out some possibly valid solutions.
1. Caffeine: Obvious answer is obvious
2. Meditation: Now we’re getting somewhere. Sit still, preferably but not necessarily in a quiet space, close your eyes and focus on your breath for ten minutes. See if calming your mind and slowing the traffic of unorganized thought can bring about a new burst of motivation. Sometimes its easier for me to get into that space than others, but frequently the simple act of internal stillness can work wonders and point me in a productive direction.
3. Talk to someone you love: Get encouragement. Call your mother or your spouse or your child and simply embrace the joy of hearing their voice. Share how you’re feeling and accept any support or compliment they have to give you. Remember that no matter how down you feel, there’s always someone on your team cheering you on.
4. Exercise: This can be as simple as doing 100 jumping jacks or as intense as running two miles. Just get your blood pumping, kickstart your metabolism and see if that doesn’t drive some energy into your brain and senses.
5. Have sex: Get that feeling called sexual healing. If only it was that easy for most of us to do this in the office or workplace. Okay, maybe it shouldn’t be THAT easy or we’d all be in trouble.
6. Just do it: Forge ahead even if you don’t feel the energy to do so. Sometimes you’ll tap into a momentum you can carry forward into the rest of your week. Don’t allow yourself to say no and you might be surprised at what you can do.
So that’s about all I’ve got. For me, the simple act of writing can conjure up some energy. Maybe embracing our passion can drag us out of the doldrums.
Leave a suggestion or two in the comments. What do you do to motivate yourself on a Monday (or Tuesday after a holiday)?
Apparently the answer is “To Twitter”, at least according to the lion’s share of indie authors. A promotional vehicle that runs on a steady fuel of hashtags, bad jokes and shameless plugging yet is somehow STILL surprisingly entertaining. My little heart felt full after creating my first account yesterday and getting my first dozen followers. WHO IS @PARTYINMYPANTS69? I DON’T KNOW BUT THEY’RE FOLLOWING ME SO I LOOOOVE THEM!!! Yeah I’m almost hoping the novelty of this wears off quickly so I can stop feeling like I crave affection from strangers. Or at least, go back to pretending that I don’t crave affection from strangers.
I was a Twitter-doubter for years, which is why I’m so late to this particular party. Why? I’d say it was partially me being too hipster for it, partially me being terrified of drowning in a sea of tweets and partially because I was so snug and comfy under my Facebook blanket. And yet even after that first day I can already tell that this is going to be a pretty big promotional tool in my Bat-Writer utility belt, right next to the shark repellent spray.
If I can get 14 followers in a day (13 now because one doo doo head dropped off overnight) just by being myself and talking about what I love; heck imagine what I can get in a month. I sold several copies of The Pull this week already and it’s only Tuesday. Thank you Twitter, thank you Facebook, thank you YouTube and my blogsite. I’m new to this self-promotion game but I can already see how it can work. The point of this really is: you can too.
Don’t be afraid of Twitter just because people like Charlie Sheen use it to talk about their tiger blood (dated reference is dated) and there are millions of people trying to sell things on it. It can be a fun little playground if you approach it from the right mindset. Don’t be afraid of YouTube because you don’t like your hair on any given day. Just crank up your webcam, open your mouth and say or do something YOU have fun with. When you smile, others smile with you.
I say the more passionate goofballs we have in the social media landscape the better. So get to goofing!!!