In the last three years, I lost something that was extremely important to me.
I used to spend my high school days reading and writing constantly. I could get lost in fictional worlds for hours upon hours without ever needing to come up for air.
I loved creating my own worlds just as much as I did with reading about them, but that part of who I was – the creator, the imaginator (a world I just made up) – slowly, slowly disappeared the further I progressed in my university career.
In first year, I was focused on making friends and being social for the first time in my life. No longer were fictional characters the people who I knew best. I didn’t lock myself away in my room for hours to explore the worlds I loved so much. Instead, I explored the one right in front of me. For the first time ever I found that I didn’t want to.
Second year was a strange one. I was struggling to figure out what in my life was making me happy… and what wasn’t. I used to use escapism through books to avoid my problems, but I finally had someone I knew I could lean on one hundred percent, so I chose to not solve my problems by ignoring them.
This last year I was determined to get involved as much as I could. I worked about four jobs and although at times I was overwhelmed, I was enjoying every minute of it. I became so busy that there was no time to read or write – and the sad truth is that I no longer wanted to. Instead, if I had a free hour I’d rather spend it with my boyfriend who I rarely got to see despite living together, or watch a mindless television show on Netflix. Needless to say, my brain was too fried to even try to be creative.
In the chaos of third year, a friend and I put together a small publication with a few pieces of writing we were extremely proud of. Although they weren’t works of fiction, it made me miss creating and writing for myself. Turning an idea we had into something tangible was one of the best feelings I have ever experienced. It made me realize that I wanted to be creative again – a factor that was sorely missing from my life for three years now.
So, this summer I decided I was going to write a book. I used to write novels all the time, only ever finishing one though, which just made me even more determined to do this.
However, when I started I found that it wasn’t the same as it had been three years ago. The characters, the imagery, and the words weren’t coming to me as easily as they once had. I knew I was out of practice. I knew that it would take time to get back into the groove of things, but I still found it frustrating.
It wasn’t until I left the city and went away to a cottage for the weekend did things change.
Some context you should know: I wrote (and completed) the first book I ever attempted to write while sitting on a swing in a forest. I had always found that nature boosted my creativity and surrounding myself with trees made me feel transported into the fantasy world I was trying to write. I knew this at the age of eleven, but had somehow forgotten it at twenty.
But that weekend I spent outside of the city reminded me of that. I felt everything click into place as I sat looking out at the water, writing my story, creating my world, and meeting my characters as if for the first time. I could finally picture everything so very clearly and I spent hours lost in the world I was creating. The piece of me that I had been missing for three years finally returned.
I never really knew that something in me was off. I knew I missed books, but I was just going about my daily life as if everything was fine. But once I understood that something had, in fact, been missing in me for years, I would be lying if I said I hadn’t cried at the realization.
I am currently almost two months into writing my new novel and I am loving every single minute of it. I think I’m going to try and make fourth year about sustaining this feeling and remaining creative.
Writing is who I am. I don’t want to lose that part of me again.
The best advice I can give to anyone who feels as if they are lost in an uncreative rut, is to change your space. Go somewhere with the mindset that you want to create and your new surroundings might spark something in you. For me, nature does the trick. The sounds that come from being by a lake are so much more inspiring than a busy road or a construction site.
Explore. Create. And do what you love.