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Old 07-29-2016   #1
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narcissistic rant about loss of creativeness and joy

Some time ago, when I first joined this forum I was going through a bad period in my life. Depression and anxiety led me to having panic attacks and I had to take medication that in turn made me apathetic. However during that time of emotional numbness I was really creative. I started writing short stories and put them up on reddit for people to read. Most people gave me good feedback and cynothoglys was even kind enough to give me a thorough review of one of my stories. Everything was going fine in the creative field. I pumped out 20 stories over a period of a year or so, many mediocre and a few good.

Then I started taking my degree in History, of which I have now finished the first year with excellent grades ( Remember: narcissistic rant) and during that year I only read academic works with very few fiction books in between. I told myself that during the summer I would start writing fiction again but unfortunately the ambition is just not there anymore. I had set so many goals for this summer, I was going to write an article for my university, finish off a stack of books I have laying around and off course write a couple of stories that should supposedly be of much better quality than anything I had written before. Now the summer is almost over for me. In three weeks I will be back in school, doing something I like but not as much as writing fiction... But my brain just doesn't have the ideas anymore. I remember when I would conjure up terrible scenarios from which a story would develop almost with no effort. Walking around the neighborhood or the forest, a strange window, a crooked tree would be more than enough to give me that little "spark" that spawns an idea. Those "feelings" from which a story can be born, developed and finished are completely absent.

This frustrating situation is making me feel miserable, insecure and the self-loathing is increasing. I have started stories during this summer, but I haven't finished any of them, most ideas just fade out like a bad dream. Writing a story, even if it is a couple of pages is easy, but is the end, the "prestige" that fails to appear in my mind. I can't bear to abuse a new idea by starting developing it and then just leave it there to die. Much like a trapped animal I pace back and forth and the only consolation I have is just to read, play video games, go for walks and wait for those juicy ideas to pour in. Even when I manage to write a page or two of fiction the feeling of accomplishment is just gone !

Writing this helps me to put my thoughts in order. At the same time, I know that many of you write or are creative people (and extremely talented at that) in one way or the other, that is why I share my feelings with you here. Perhaps some of you have gone through similar phases of writers block or whatever. What are your experiences? My biggest fear right now is that this feeling of being trapped in my own self-hate and mediocrity is just a preamble for another episode of depression, which I really don't want.

"I myself have never seen the Red Tower - no one ever has, and possibly no one ever will. And yet wherever I go people are talking about it. In one way or another they are talking about the nightmarish novelty items or about the mysterious and revolting hyper-organisms, as well as babbling endlessly about the subterranean system of tunnels and the secluded graveyard whose headstones display no names and no dates designating either birth or death"

Thomas Ligotti-The Red Tower
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Old 07-29-2016   #2
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Re: narcissistic rant about loss of creativeness and joy

When I have a problem such as you describe, I notice that I obsess on attaining a solution. Not that I just seek a solution, more like I DEMAND a solution, much to the detriment of my overall well-being. I've done it over and over, and was fortunate enough to have had it brought to my attention. In my experience it is very destructive

What works for me is if I'm obsessing while sitting, I get up and walk around to take my mind off of it. If I'm doing it while indoors, I'll take a walk around the building, or say hello to someone and have a brief conversation. The more that I get my mind off of what is bothering me the better chance at my arriving at a solution.

I can't tell you how many times that a solution pops into my head out of nowhere when I practice these distractions. Sometimes hours, days, or weeks later the solution just appears. To me it's hilarious. It's as if I should use my brain for something other than thinking. It works in my relationships, as well.

In reality, I think that the obsessive part of my problem solving has accepted being relegated to a sub conscious level and is able to function somewhat autonomously of my day to day living.

Lucian pigeon-holed the letter solemnly in the receptacle lettered 'Barbarians.' ~ The Hill of Dreams by Arthur Machen
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Old 07-29-2016   #3
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Re: narcissistic rant about loss of creativeness and joy

This poem by Antonio Machado has always spoken to me about the loss of creativity and joy, due mainly to negligence:

The wind, one brilliant day, called
to my soul with an odor of jasmine.

'In return for the odor of my jasmine,
I'd like all the odor of your roses.'

'I have no roses; all the flowers
in my garden are dead.'

'Well then, I'll take the withered petals
and the yellow leaves and the waters of the fountain.'

the wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:
'What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?'
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Old 07-29-2016   #4
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Re: narcissistic rant about loss of creativeness and joy

Mr. Plores, lamentable though your predicament may be, your description of it is evocative enough- so at least be assured your observational skills have not faded along with the possible subjects they could be applied to.
The answer to your question ( what are your experiences) could very well turn out to be no less narcissistic, so apologies for that, but here goes: the one advice i've heard and read most, and applied most, is do not stop. Keep writing/drawing/creative endeavour of choice, so the impulse doesn't atrophy, and the craft doesn't wither, even if it is applied to ideas that seem to go nowhere. If you don't do anything, you have nothing, not even something to assess as good or bad when it's finished. And your craft will grow, regardless, even if it's in the service of scenes you don't like. One can't help, in the end, but learn.
Another thing that i find useful is to not approach a story, in the working process, as a holistic whole, but to treat it as a hybrid beast. Don't work through it linearly, but in patches. Allow the thing itself to surprise you just as much as the initial spark you speak of surprised you; play with it, do not respect it too much. Allow your current mood to be an excuse for examining your work dispassionately, try not to become too attached to the place you've allotted a given scene or paragraph- try to work backwards, from the centre outwards, extrapolate from your extrapolation, then extrapolate from that, and see where you end up, pair scenes associatively. Write your writer's block into the story, let the indecision and the fear into the narration itself &c. &c.
Well, sorry if this all sounds useless, or you've already tried everything i mentioned. These are paths and strategies i've walked and tried, it's all i know.
My sincerest wishes of strength and succour, as to that depression looming: i hope they turn out not to have been necessary.

"What can a thing do with a thing, when it is a thing?"
-Shaykh Ibn Al 'Arabi
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Old 07-29-2016   #5
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Re: narcissistic rant about loss of creativeness and joy

It will pass. I speak from experience. Worrying only prolongs it. In olden days depression-generated 'creative apathy' was called Writer's Block.
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Old 07-29-2016   #6
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Re: narcissistic rant about loss of creativeness and joy

There is a book that helped me in a similar situation. It is called A Writer's Time and it helped me get back on track and really helped focus my writing.
The best thing I can think of is consistency. Have a time every day where you are alone and have everything you need. It's best to use pen and paper or a typewriter because a computer has all those games and files and internet access - too much of a temptation. Even an hour a day will help.Now you don't have to write anything but you can't do anything else. Eventually, you'll write something. It won't be good. It doesn't matter. Take a break. Your mind will try to do better but it needs to get in gear, so to speak. Maybe you'll write some more, maybe not. But the different parts of the mind will slowly get back into writing configuration.The habit of writing ( or, not writing) every day at the same time and going slowly, letting the mind change from a study mode to a writing mode, will soon allow you to turn the writing on and off. Your mind will compartmentalize itself in your favor.
And, remember. There is no writing. There is only rewriting.

"A Mad World, MY Masters"
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Old 07-30-2016   #7
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Re: narcissistic rant about loss of creativeness and joy

I used to think, when I found myself in a state of numb apathetic idiocy that many refer to as writers block (when nuggets of inspiration stopped appearing in diabolical trees, dubious pieces of modern art, or esoteric excrements), that I should focus inward to excavate new story ideas. This was never a good idea, and all that it ever produced was narcissistic babble (relevant to the thread!).

If I am in my normal, non-blocked mode, turning inward is the key to everything. It's the only way to assimilate the information gathered from the pieces of inspiration. But the adverse is always true, for me, when I am blocked.

9 times out of 14, reading authors that I respect or envy does the trick. Eventually.

That's the only significant information that I have to add to the excellent advice that has already been posted. Read the type of fiction that you want to write.
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Old 07-30-2016   #8
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Re: narcissistic rant about loss of creativeness and joy

I take 100mg of sertraline and 100mg of quetiapine daily. I feel less anxious and depressed than I used to, but I still lack motivation when it comes to writing. I can't even imagine becoming successful enough to have a collection of my tales published.

I have a first draft done of a submission for Vasterian, but it will more than likely ossify unseen on my hard drive. I'm too scared to even glance at it.
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Old 07-30-2016   #9
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Re: narcissistic rant about loss of creativeness and joy

My best ideas seem to come when I'm listening to music or taking a shower. Michael Cisco recommends taking notes while you listen to music, though I have never tried this myself.

This is my life. This is my damnation. This is my only regret--that I ever was born.

-- Swans, "Beautiful Child"
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Old 07-30-2016   #10
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Re: narcissistic rant about loss of creativeness and joy

Everything With Strength I Burn said is fantastic advice, actually, there is no better advice. I've suffered depression and anxiety in the past and it was only after I changed my diet, quit smoking and began exercising regularly, like 2 - 3 times a week of vigorous cardio (cycling), that my health/mana multiplied a hundredfold.

Reading Nietzsche and Mishima was life changing . . . Writers who exalt strength and individualism over weakness and self-victimisation are always helpful . . .

The special quality of hell is to see everything clearly down to the last detail. And to see all that in the pitch darkness!
- Yukio Mishima, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

Last edited by Liam Barden; 07-31-2016 at 12:18 AM..
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