Creativity, Squirrels, and UFOs
Nothing sucks quite as much as being creatively stifled by your own deficiencies. I’m talking about your brain being full of ideas that don’t seem to come to fruition. It’s maddening when your dreams are full of concepts, storylines, and art, that rarely become reality. The worst aspect of it is knowing that it’s your own fault this happens.
You see, I’m a great starter, but a lousy finisher. I am the greatest producer of UnFulfilled Objectives you’ll ever meet. I’m the Big Idea lady, full of concept, short on follow through.
My whole life I’ve struggled with that major stick-to-it-iveness that others seem to possess in abundance. Where others have become experts in their chosen creative outlets, I have become a mediocre (in my opinion anyway) craftsman of many skills, none of which have I ever felt sufficiently adequate in to call myself adept. I’ll get a terrific idea, go balls to the wall with it, and create this terrific plan, maybe even get to the building of a foundation for it – then, when it comes time to keep it going, I lose steam, eventually drifting away from it to something else. I’m not sure if this is a result of my life-long legitimate personal issues creating roadblocks, or if it’s that I’m subconsciously lazy, or, worse yet, that I’m subconsciously afraid to succeed.
I try hard not to be hyper critical of myself, taking into account that my PTSD does create real functionality issues like regular bouts of insomnia, unexpectedly feeling overwhelmed, emotionally raw days, and periods of necessary isolationism to cope with the rest. I know my ADD also creates issues with distraction and lack of focus, and I’m very conscious of my tendency to bite off more than I can reasonably chew. But I feel like I’ve been dealing with these things most of my life and have been able to figure out how to get beyond them and live my life around them, so these things should not be such an issue still.
I’m frustrated by my own reality and how the coping techniques that effectively work for managing my daily life seem to be in opposition to being creatively fruitful. In know it probably sounds ridiculous, but I will explain my thinking and maybe that will help clarify.
I deal with bouts of insomnia often. It leaves me sleep deprived and feeling mentally sluggish which makes it even more difficult to manage my ADD. My ADD makes me very forgetful and easily distracted anyway, so it doesn’t need any help from insomnia. To counter this part of my reality, I rely on habits and consistency to remember to do things I’m supposed to do and to find things I misplace. This ensures I’ll be where I’m supposed to be with all things I’m supposed to have with me. Routines are what keep me employed and functional.
But… It is hard for me to establish routines. I don’t really like them because they are stifling and restrictive and make me feel like I can’t be spontaneous. I need them, so I work hard to establish them, because once I do, they become my lifelines. Knowing that my purse always goes in the same place, with my keys in the same place, etc, guarantees that when I’m having a particularly trying day, I can operate on autopilot and won’t lose things. The same goes for scheduling my life. I absolutely hate being late, so I plan ahead to ensure I allow time to compensate for my inevitable forgetting of stuff. And when I start new projects, I schedule my time to ensure I will work on them, that I won’t neglect them. It works for me, and yet, I still can’t seem to finish projects! Ugh!
I’ve thought about this a lot recently, and I think the problem happens when I need a break. Like when I’m exhausted from lack of adequate sleep (bouts of insomnia), or randomly feeling overwhelmed for an extended period of days (ptsd), or can’t for the life of me focus on anything for days (add). These needs in and of themselves don’t create the problem – it’s breaking the routines that causes the problem. It’s so hard for me to create routines that, once broken, it’s thrice as hard to get them back. And that seems to be where my projects get derailed, leaving me feeling defeated and disappointed.
For example, I started a wonderful page on Facebook a few years ago, devoted to indie authors and their work. I adored this project, spent hours daily working on the page, it’s companion blog, the companion review blog, the author events etc. I truly loved and believed (and still do) in this project. It was going well and I was enjoying the hell outta the thing. It was incredibly fulfilling, not to mention I met so many writer friends, as well as making lots of connections for graphics and copywriting work. Then life happened and I got so overwhelmed that I needed the inevitable hermit time.
At first, I figured okay, you can do this. Take your down time if you need it, but when it’s over, you get right on back to it. But the down time was longer than just a few days, it became months of simply going to work and coming home, because that’s all I could handle at the time. By the time I came back up for air, I had been AWOL for a long time, the project had lost steam, and I felt like I had let the subscribers and writers down. I felt defeated and embarrassed, because I can’t explain to people what my reality is like and I won’t ask them to believe in my project again when I let them down the first time. Since then, I have been quietly working on the project in the background, occasionally adding things and updating, and hoping that one day I will get back to some level of full steam on it. But now I fear overwhelming myself again, so I’m hesitant to do too much.
And this is how it goes with many of my past projects. I go full steam, inspired and motivated, then my reality kicks the feet out from under me, leaving me bruised and in need of some down time, and by the time I’m back up and running again, the landscape has changed and I’m not sure if I should continue on my previous course or pick a new one. I usually end up picking a new one because the old one is no longer an option.
I am determined to find a way to overcome this, but I’m feeling rather lost as far as solutions go. I know who I am, and what my limitations are, and I’ve promised myself that I will no longer set myself up for failure by trying to exceed those limitation, but can I live my life happily feeling so hampered by these limits? Will being realistic about my limits and cautious about pushing them cause me to never excel? To never take risks anymore? To live too safe a life?
I don’t know the answers to these questions and that frustrates me as well.
I think what I really need is a partner who knows me well enough to caution me without hindering me, to anchor me so I don’t get sucked away by the tornado of my own exuberance, and to catch me when I crash, so I don’t get quite so bruised up in the inevitable fall. Sadly, I don’t think those partners are out there for me anymore. Besides, that’s a young kid’s game, all that hunting for soulmates crap, and I’m entirely too grown and pragmatic to begin that game again now. I’ve been on my own for a long time, so I’ll just have to figure this out on my own as well.
I have big plans, big ideas, and I really want very much for them to be a reality, but perhaps the reality of being me is all there is room for in my world.
~ Gigi ~