Every creative person knows what it’s like to live through a bout of doubt and depression.You suck, your work sucks, and you just can’t bring it to the table like you used to. Maybe you never could. Maybe they were right, and you were just fooling yourself the whole time.
If creation isn’t your main gig, it’s even easier to let things slide. I was talking to an old friend the other day who asked how my writing was going. Did I have a novel finished yet? Sheepishly, I admitted that I didn’t, but listed the other things I’ve been doing. I was pleased to see that in spite of my other commitments, my writing continues in a slow but steady trickle. Perhaps I’m no closer to getting a novel published, but at the very least, I am being productive.
There have been other times this question has come up and I’ve been forced to admit that I haven’t written anything beyond navel-gazing journal entries in 6…8…14 months.
And for me, at least, that’s where the self-recrimination starts. I was congratulating myself on dodging a bullet (Holy guilt-triggers, Batman! That was close!) when this friend, this old, dear, soon-to-be-sainted friend said,”I really love your work. I’d read anything you wrote.”
I didn’t need the boost that day. But I will someday. And so a technique I’ve found to be particularly effective is a “happy thoughts” folder. I believe I cadged it from “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. Even if I didn’t it’s a great book, and you should check it out.
In the summertime, when food is plentiful, and you are happy, productive, and the money is rolling in, these words of praise and admiration are like suet treats, heady and fattening and not really necessary. But in the depths of midwinter, these hoarded treats, carefully preserved before poor memory and depression can warp them, these kind words might mean the very survival of your poor, beleaguered creative self.
Personally, I keep them in a pouch at my waist with my spare pixie dust. : ) Cheers!