Creatively Holding Your Breath

Some may be tired of the analogy by now but it still holds truth. Creativity is like breath. You go through cycles when you’re inhaling, taking in other peoples’ works and and not necessarily producing much yourself; and cycles when you’re exhaling, creating a lot of work and perhaps wishing you had more time to enjoy that of others.

This was my experience going into university. I wrote short stories that I would share with my friends and poems that I would share with lots of different people. I would also look at other people’s work, be they peers or professionals, and I found it inspiring.

Having been out of university for over a year now, I’ve found myself in a rather frustrating state. I find myself unable to produce. Or, more accurately, the inspiration and passion isn’t there as it was at the end of highschool. The conventional wisdom is that you don’t wait for inspiration or passion to come. You just sit down and write. But write what? “Anything.” So I sit and stare at the white screen trying to think of literally anything and nothing comes. I am unable to exhale.

On the other hand, I find it very easy to lose an hour of my day going over Greek conjugation tables, learning about theology, reading poetry, learning about music, learning about literature, learning this, learning that, learning everything. When I sit down and try to do something creative – nothing. So what’s going on? It’s like I’m creatively holding my breath but I have no control over it. What gives?

And then I realized something. I was in university for four years. For those four years, I was constantly asked to exhale even when I had nothing to exhale. My lungs were empty, but I still had to write an essay about this that and the other thing. My capacity to produce was always on the verge of tanking. Not to mention that as the years went on, more and more was asked of me.

So if I was constantly exhaling work for four years, maybe I don’t panic yet if it’s been one year and I haven’t completely caught my breath yet. Especially if I can tell that it’s slowly catching up again. When you’re underwater and you come out of the water, it takes a moment to regain your breath. That’s me right now.

The frustrating thing is that creativity is a big part of my identity. It’s who I am. I’m a poet. I have been nicknamed “Scribe.” I went to university to learn how to write. There’s a bit of an identity crisis wrapped up in all this but I am confident that whatever I’m going through will lead to valuable discoveries and expand my skills in the end.

And maybe it will be something interesting to write about.

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