Seasons of Creativity

In early-2019, I found myself sitting on the floor in the hallway. I had been walking to the fireplace to burn the novel I had begun before I got sick, but my legs had given out. Again. Unable to move, I dropped the 3-inch binder. It contained my story with its edits, character profiles, phrases and words that I liked, and fun trivia to incorporate.

A PET/CT scan had recently shown mysterious masses throughout my body. I was dodging calls from infectious disease and the oncologist, unwilling to face the prognosis. My doctors seemed to think I was dying, and the physical sensations in my body suggested the same. If I wasn’t long for this world, I didn’t want anyone to stumble across and read my unfinished story. I had no choice but to destroy it.

I had already deleted the digital copy. I now sat on the floor, sobbing and unable to move, ripping to shreds hundreds of pages and hundreds of hours of creative energy. I tend towards calm and calculated behaviors, but the situation called for dramatics.

For three years, my brain had been unwilling or unable to cooperate in my creative endeavors. Now, finally, I had accepted that something was wrong. I was no longer able to tap into my creative energy and that was what was really killing me.

In 2010, I had participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time, posting my story to an old blog, chapter-by-chapter, over the course of the month. I had participated annually until I became ill in 2015. A mind which had once been surrounded by inspiration and racing with ideas suddenly went quiet. And I had no idea how to cope.

Creativity is a energetically demeaning. Following COVID, many people have experienced aphantasia, where the ability to visualize images and engage in inner monologue disappears. There are threads on Twitter by those who lost the ability to see with their mind’s eye to determine why, as well as others theorizing the reason to be problems with the corpus callosum.

When I close my eyes, my mind’s eye is blind and my inner voice is silent. I recognize now that I am not alone.

For eight years now, my creativity abilities have been missing in action. How does a formerly-creative person navigate the loss of the ability to ideate and create?

When any of us are faced with fatigue, dispassion, business, and the general stressors of life, how can we get back in touch with our creative nature?

While I haven’t thought about writing fiction in years, I’ve found ways to scratch that itch and imbue meaning and purpose into my life despite the creative drought.

Come join us over at the Heart of the Matter, where I’ll share the tactics I’ve found to help draw out a creativity in small in sustainable ways, despite the limitations of chronic illness, or anything else that may be standing in your way.

19 thoughts on “Seasons of Creativity

    1. Thanks, Ray! I was going to send some sunshine from Phoenix ☀️ but, alas, it’s cold. In fact, it looks like Nashville is about 20 warmer today. So, instead sending hugs back at ya, my friend!


  1. Wow! I admire your tenacity! I went through a couple of years where I was unable to paint or draw, and for an artist that’s devastating. I called it my apple-sauce period, for all I was able to do was to first rip up the many scraps of quality colored art papers into different color-sorted bags: greens, blues, red, etc. Then I spent hours just gluing those small scraps onto cardstock. I felt like one of the old forks in a retirement home barely having the strength to eat applesauce.

    Once I came out of the stresses that were killing my creativity, I started to incorporate those collage pieces into other pieces of artwork and they looked amazing. It was all part of the process of turning poison into medicine.

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    1. PS, I’m writing a new post where I mention you and the 2 posts you wrote. It will drop Saturday morning. Let me know what you think!


    2. I’m sorry you had to go through something similar, Tamara, though I must admit it feels validating to find someone else who understands the pain of losing the ability to create art, at least in the one we had in the past. I can relate so much to your analogy of being in the old folks home… thankfully, I’m not so bad anymore, but really is devastating. I’m so looking forward to your post, Tamara! ❤️❤️❤️

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      1. Sometimes just knowing that others have gone through and felt the stuff we did is so helpful! We sometimes have difficulty validating ourselves for we’re just trying to get through it all!

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  2. “While I haven’t thought about writing fiction in years, I’ve found ways to scratch that itch and imbue meaning and purpose into my life despite the creative drought.” You’ve included so much wisdom in this line. Life has a way of taking certain things away from us. The key I think is doing what you’ve done, finding new meaning and ways to exercise that need. Wow, thanks for the reminder.

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    1. You so perfectly encapsulate it, Brian. It can feel absolutely devastating when he lose what feels like pieces of our identity, but I suppose those are just invitations to find new meaning in our lives.


  3. That moment in my fireplace feels so visceral just reading it and I can only imagine the heart wrenching pain you experienced in that moment.

    I am very sorry for what your illness has taken away from you. But just know that you express yourself so articulately and wonderfully in your blog posts. That in itself is something to be celebrated!

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    1. Thank you, Ab. It was so painful but, I think, necessary. I had been stuck in the “denial” stage of grief and I had tricked myself into believing all mid-20-somethings felt like death, but “old age” (ha!) didn’t explain the loss of creativity. That was the moment I began allowing myself to release emotions related to the loss, and thus inch toward acceptance.

      Thank you! I so appreciate your kind words. 😊


  4. Wow, Erin – what a poignant moment you describe so incredibly well. A mark of wisdom that you can do it so well — and also so much creative talent. I’m so sorry that your novel didn’t survive but so glad you did and your tips for cultivating creativity are amazing!! Grateful for you!!

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    1. Thank you, Wynne! I hadn’t realized until responding to Ab, but I think that experience was my moving from the “denial” stage of grief to “anger”, and it was the inability to exercise creativity (at least as I knew it) that pushed me over the edge. And perhaps that story was always meant to be my sacrificial lamb. Thank you, Wynne! I’m so grateful for you, as well!! ❤️❤️

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  5. Dear one….this was heartbreaking to read…but I suspect many other stories lie within…and they’ll be told, when the time is right. You are a gifted thinker and writer! ❤️

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    1. Thank you, Vicki! Writing it out and now reading through the comments, I’m beginning to see that my loss of creativity is what finally led to my acceptance that something was wrong. I could blame aches and pains on “getting old” (at 25?!? 🤦) but I couldn’t explain away the lack of inspiration. I think it was necessary… I feel a hint of sadness looking back, but the sense of gratitude is stronger. I can be stubborn, hard-headed, and persistent, and I needed the battering ram to crack me open. Ah, “many other stories lie within”–I think you’re right, and they’ll emerge when the time is right. I’m so grateful to know you, Vicki!! ❤️❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes!! You told the story so we’ll about the heartbreak of losing that part of yourself…your creative spark. Poignantly told…your specialty, dear one. Hugs and love! 🥰

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