Creative death

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You’ve been there.

You’ve worked your arse off to create something you love, and got it out into the world. But now, there’s nothing. You’ve used up all your ideas in one go. You’re aimless, and doubting yourself, and that next project is a total non-starter. Things are grey; your mind’s blank. May as well give up now.

Life moves in cycles and seasons. Night follows day; summer follows winter. There’s always a flip side; there’s always a price to pay. For new things to come into being, old things need to die.

But it’s not such a bad thing. If we can make peace with that idea, then life can be much more vivid and serene while we’re here to enjoy it. It becomes a richer experience. Rather than resenting a creative block, we can see it as the death of old ideas, before we start to find even better ones.

To make something as beautiful as a luna moth, Nature needs to kill an ugly-ass caterpillar. Many of our doomsday fantasies imagine Earth as a scorched grey wasteland – when in fact there could be more jungles and wildlife thriving than ever before. Jeff Goldblum said it: life finds a way.

It’s the same with our creativity; it will find a way. We’re burning up time to put our art into the world, and create new things for our crowd. But the energy that goes into that work can’t be reclaimed. We have to find new energy, from new places.

To evolve and develop as creators, certain aspects of our creativity need to fade and die. It’s not a depressing thing, but a happy thing – it’s how our minds make room for newer, stronger aspects. It’s how we refine our craft into expertise. It’s the only way a masterpiece can happen.

Sculptors destroy stone to make statues. Farmers burn acres to plant new crops. Without that destruction, there can’t be further creation. Without those flat grey times between books, paintings or whatever we create, then there can’t be even better creations to come. Accept it. Welcome it.

All we have to do is recognise those times in our lives for that sense of creative death – and go through that empty doubt and uncertainty until we reach the far side, and creative rebirth.

You’ve been on top of your creative game before – and you will be again. That mental Renaissance is coming – so long as you welcome the Dark Ages in between.

 

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