I’ve been moaning and groaning the last week or so about my stalled sense of creativity since I began my new job. And what little creative surges I have felt, I’ve had to stifle because I am so short on time and energy these days. I’d grown accustomed to being able to indulge whatever creative impulse struck me—day or night—while enjoying a more relaxed schedule in the past than what I have now. So I’ve been a little frightened of what would happen to my imagination now that I’ve joined the masses as a 9-5er.
Everyone told me to just relax, to let the new routine sink in a little before getting all uppity about my writing either getting or not getting accomplished. But I’m not really a go-with-the-flow kind of girl, and I need a hefty dose of self-discipline in order to produce the amount and quality of writing that I require in order to feel good about myself. So simply waiting for everything to settle down was not very easy. The good news is that work is improving every single day as I learn more and make new friends.
Still, I felt so uncomfortable not knowing how I would find a way to manage my writing with so much less time every day. Two nights ago as I lay in bed totally exhausted, I tried to will myself to crank out even a few lines of usable material, but nothing happened. I was too tired, too blah; most likely, the act of trying so hard to force the creativity stifled whatever imaginative urges might have been there in the first place. Daunted and disappointed, I gave up, closed my laptop and hit the light. My writerly peace of mind would have to wait another day. *sigh*
The next morning while taking my seat on a crowded bus, I thought again about wanting to just get some little nugget or idea started—something, anything—even if just a name for a minor character or chapter title. I looked up to the writer gods and wished for it. And then suddenly, as if merely wishing for a moment of creativity could make it happen, it came to me. Just like that! The shuffle feature of my mp3 player landed on a song that triggered an idea for an incredibly crucial scene in an upcoming chapter of my novel, a scene that will likely have a ripple effect throughout the rest of the book. I took out the few scraps of paper I had in my pocket and spent my two bus rides furiously scribbling this scene down in as much detail as I could manage amidst the jostling and jerking of public transit.
Getting off the bus, I wrote as I walked–the scrap of paper in my hand now covered in messy strips of storyline. Crossing the street in front of my building, I even stopped to write on a large orange traffic barrel and then again on the hard surface of a revolving glass door. In my fury to get every last bit of my new idea on paper, I missed my floor on the elevator and annoyed everyone around me as I bumped and shuffled my way through the hall with pen and paper still captivating 100% of my attention. When I finally arrived at my desk, I finished the last bits of my ideas for this scene and carefully folded up my precious scraps of paper, taking as much time and care to place them in my notebook as if they were made of pure gold. I took off my sweater and sat down in my chair, feeling positively invigorated and alive—like myself again. I was almost out of breath with excitement, not necessarily because of the ideas themselves but because of the return of my spontaneous, unpredictable, and untimely creativity. Good God, how I missed it.
Everyone in my office uses these little round calendar balls with old-fashioned flapper cards. When I went to push the button on top of the ball for it to flop down the day’s date, the sound seemed to reverberate through the quiet office. The clock read 8:54 am. The start of another workday.
I could have let this be a total buzzkill, bringing me back down to earth with a plastic-y thud. But instead I allowed myself to push through the workday with the knowledge that I had another bus ride waiting for me and could find a way to crawl back inside that moment of thrilling, spontaneous creativity. I simply need to learn how to compartmentalize—that’s all. Hey—it might even involve a new system of color-coded lists!
Back on the bus at 5 pm, I put that same song back on and picked up where I left off with my scribbling. I suppose it takes my creative mind some time to adjust, but it always does. I just have to learn to trust that it might take a week or a few weeks, but my need to write will always win out over exhaustion, depression, or anything else that gets in its way. Learning to have faith in my desire to write is still a work in progress, but it’s worth it. One day I won’t stress so much. And in the process, I am feeling a renewed sense of urgency, passion, and vigor surrounding my writing career. I’ll make it happen one way or another because there is no other option. Being a writer is who I am and writing is what I must do. Even if only in certain compartments of the day.
For now, I feel like myself again. Just knowing that I still have the ability to create when my time and energy are zapped away in order to put food on the table is a huge relief. After all, I’m following in a long line of artists who had to find a way to cultivate their art even in undesirable circumstances. It is who we are and what we must do, even if it means a little bit of revolution must take place in order to fit everything into the hectic heap of days and deeds. ¡Viva la Revolución!