For the past few weeks, I haven't been able to find the pool of creativity which earlier I was able to reach into. In the recent past, I could summon ideas almost at will but now I feel uninspired. This has resulted in discontent and a sense that if unchecked, this could turn into a longer term state of mind. Thus, I write this post to investigate this feeling and find a way to come out of it.
I call this state The Lull. Lull is a period of inactivity and of dissatisfaction because of it. This is not the same as depression though you can call it one stage before that. In fact a lull can occur even when your life seems interesting from an outside point of view. Even the best of us are susceptible to it - Stephen Fry's note on it is a recommended reading. Or much closer, I am reminded of Dhanya who moved out of his country even though he was happy since that wasn't it for him.
Why does it really happen? I mean, have't we been taught that aiming for happiness is a good way to live life? Personally, I put it down to a skewed ratio of consumption vs production. I've always had a constant urge to create something to feel relevant and good about myself. And in the past few weeks I wasn't creating anything. My writing was gone, I wasn't learning much of Spanish, no exercise, no playing guitar. I even stopped playing Snooker. I was just consuming by way of watching movies, partying out with friends, so on and so forth.
So, how do we fix this? First step is to actually realise that you are going through this phase. It seems like a flippant statement to make; it is anything but. Notice that you are entering a lull and if you let it take it's course, you can spiral down into a negative place.
How do you notice this change? Chances are that you'll suddenly find yourself in this situation and break down or just be absolutely frustrated with how you ended up there. But, more often than not, this happens gradually and not overnight. So, notice small changes in your best habits. For me, it was writing lesser and lesser. Writing was one thing that gave me peace of mind. But, lately, I had not even been able to write in my journal, forget about writing blog posts. This then went on to procrastination and quitting on the targets I set for myself.
Second step is to notice what are you doing instead of that habit. I started deriving acknowledgement from writing small Haikus and showing off to my friends who were more than generous with their praise. This, then gave me a false sense of accomplishment which prevented me from doing my long due writing project.
Next, ignore your mind. You see, whenever you want to take up something against inertia, your mind will give you reasons to not do it. Waking up early would be tough because it is too cold outside the blanket. You don't feel inspired enough to create that tune you always wanted to. You don't have a good idea to write a post about. Or, going for a run is too troublesome. But, stop this thinking.
It will seem a monumental task if you think through the whole thing. Shut your mind off. Just pick up the tool of your trade. No one's asking you to do anything with it, just pick it up for a few moments. Take one single step. Get off the bed and stand for one second. Hold the guitar in your hand for 5 minutes. Take a blank piece of paper and a pen. Tie your shoelaces and take a step out of the door. This is it. That's all you need to do in this moment.
Figure out priorities and lower your ambitions. Focus on even fewer things. Take just one single thing and do it. Not even do it great, but just do it. If you are navigating your ship in stormy seas, you don't care about whether your ship's paint is coming off. You just want to make sure that your ship doesn't sink. You can worry about the fancy stuff later. Similarly, in a lull, just focus on getting out of it. Avoid being overtly critical of how you do it and what you did during that time.
Create the most fertile ground. Figure out the scenarios that you were in which enabled you to feel inspired. If it is the set and setting that has changed, find a way to create those situations yourself. Perhaps you were spending more time alone. Or, maybe you were hanging out with a lot of new people. Or maybe, you had a good routine. Whatever it was that helped you be calm and content earlier, try to set it up again.
tldr; Check your consumption vs production ratio and go back to that one thing that gave you the peace of mind in the first place. For me, this post is a start in that direction.
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