Lifestyle · Uncategorized

Some thoughts on creativity & expectations

This is something a bit different to my usual posts, in that it’s not a review as such (and there are no pictures of delicious food plastered all over the place, sorry about that). If I had to fit it into a ‘Robyn Reviews’ category, it’d be something along the lines of ‘self’. Circumstances of the last few weeks have meant that I’ve had to be quite self-reflective, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes me tick… and recently, I’ve been worrying that I’m ticking a lot more slowly than I used to.

Whenever I’ve had a job interview, or someone has asked me to describe myself, my go-to opener is that I’ve “always been creative”. And on paper, that certainly seems to be the case; a degree in Creative Writing, a job where I write every day (and actually earn a living from it) – hell, even my primary school teacher said in my report that she anticipated a novel from me, although I suspect she was just trying to steer me away from the particularly gruesome horror short stories I was proudly bringing into class every day (blame an early exposure to Resident Evil on the PS1). Yes, on paper, I am ‘creative’ through and through, box ticked.

But I find that recently, I’m questioning my creativity more and more. I’m going through some pretty big life changes at the moment, and while those are naturally taking up a lot of time and energy, something still feels… off. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to sit down and write, to produce anything outside of what’s required of me at work (and even that has felt laboured). I wouldn’t say it’s just a case of writer’s block, either, at least not exclusively. Sometimes the right words are hard to come by, but more often than not I just can’t find the desire to even start. And when you’ve spent most of your life essentially marketing yourself as a creative person, that’s pretty jarring.

And what does that even mean anyway, my ‘creativity’? My ability to write? My capacity for new ideas? Or is it more about my drive to get my work out there, to be active and visible and passionate about something? Probably the latter, but the lack of that makes me doubt the former as well – if a tree falls in the forest and no one’s around to hear it, does it even make a sound? If you aren’t creating and aren’t showcasing your work, are you even any good at it?

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Now let’s talk expectations. I think creative people are susceptible to setting high expectations of themselves, and I know this to be true of bloggers in particular, because I see it time and time again on my Instagram and Twitter timelines: not happy with your content, feeling uninspired, forgetting why you started. Not just that, but this feeling that you have to explain it to people, to excuse and justify yourself as to why you’re not delivering something worthwhile.

I think ultimately, when we’re talking expectations, I’m my own worst enemy. I judge myself incredibly harshly, and I’ve a tendency to assume that everyone else judges me in the same way. In not meeting these expectations I’ve set myself, in not having something to essentially show my worth, it makes me feel like I’ve failed, and that others will subsequently view me as a failure too. Not only that, but that I’ve failed at something that’s so intrinsically me, something I’ve defined myself by for so many years. If I can’t do this, what can I do?

As I mentioned before, recent circumstances have called for some reflection. And while some of that reflection has drawn out some negative thoughts, it’s also provided some perspective; as humans, we’re absolutely too hard on ourselves. We’re conditioned to see our shortcomings, ignore any external factors, and just fail to give ourselves a break. I mean, just take a look at what I wrote up there: I have nothing to ‘show my worth’ because I’m struggling with creativity? Is that not… slightly ridiculous? In short, yes. So I’m trying to adjust.

I guess I’m just trying to get to a place where I’m more at ease with myself, to try and see things through a lens other than the overly critical one I usually look through. No tangible thing can define you as a person – that should be obvious, but often it’s not. For me, I know creativity will come in time, and I think (or hope) that these ramblings will act as some kind of catharsis.

After all – I just wrote something, didn’t I?

x

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3 thoughts on “Some thoughts on creativity & expectations

  1. If you hadn’t already brought yourself to your final point, I would have been posting it here. Perhaps the cathartically ironic nature of writing creatively about not being able to write creatively can soften your self-criticisms and perhaps even stimulate some more thought and energy.

    This post struck a chord with me in its own right. For a number of years now, I’ve been a teacher. But, for one reason and another, I’m finding my excitement and passion for teaching isn’t what it once was. I vividly remember teaching your A-level class, reading your text transformations in particular – your piece based on the Hardy poem still sticks with me. I loved that year, and although I’ve done some good work at my current school, I’ve never felt like we’re blessed with the culture of creativity in English that was innate in some at Ashfield.

    I’m very happy (and somewhat envious) to read that you studied creative writing and now do it as a career. People always dream of that career, where you can then the thing you love into your job. But then, of course, the risk there is always going to be that the thing you love will indeed become a job…

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    1. It’s honestly made my week reading this. I remember our A-level class too, and I still tell people now that you were the person who made me a better writer and pushed me on to do more (I distinctly remember being absolutely fuming that you made me rewrite a piece – perhaps that Hardy poem! – when it was already good enough to pass. In hindsight, you turned it from good to great).

      It’s a tough one when it’s your passion. Like you say, it’s toeing a fine line and can easily become laboured and routine. Hope you find that spark again, if it’s something you’re still after – and I hope you’re right about the rough patch kickstarting things again. I’m feeling hopeful 🙂

      Thanks Davy (still can’t call you Chris, even after a decade) x

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