Creatively Stalled

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to do whatever I wanted to do for the morning. I had been telling myself I hadn’t been creating in the last few years because I have young kids. I should finally rebuild my portfolio site! I can write something of value on my blog that I started up again several months ago, but has gone silent in the last few months?

My wife had headed out of state for a weekend visit. My kids activities had slid out of my way, and they were all entertaining themselves. I knew I had several hours where I could do whatever.

I pulled out my MacBook Pro. I logged in. I stared at the screen, with no apps open. And nothing poured out of me.

I just stared at it. I felt helpless. I am a designer. I make stuff for other people during the week. I have a list (an actual collection of ideas in an app) of a dozen little projects I could work on. Nothing.

Lately, I’ve been finding my eyes don’t focus as well as they used to, are a bit dry, and get a bit sore after staring at screens projecting light into them all day. This disincentivizes me even further… as most of my creative ideas are computer-based, as that was always the medium I worked best in.

Today I had a similar opportunity. All I could massage out of it was this blog post questioning my creative situation. Have I completely run dry of motivation for side projects? For digital hobbies? Is it simply a dry spell thanks to our collective exhaustion from the pandemic, and my personal exhaustion as a parent of elementary and middle school-aged kids? Will it return, or should I seek other pursuits? A parallel idea that I should get back into playing music with other people—instead of merely drumming along with recordings—has been bubbling up strongly for the past 6 months. Maybe that would relieve the guilt I feel over my internal identity as a creative person going mostly unfulfilled? Should I simply resign to the fact that all my creativity in a given week is consumed by my day job?

I don’t have the answers to any of these right now. I’m trying to practice grace with myself.

(Forgive the fact that I published this without an editing pass. I’m sure it’s atrocious.)