Overcoming Barriers to Creativity

I haven’t written a blogpost for a couple of months now, and even before then, it’s been pretty slow on the writing front. Today I decided to take some time to review the progress of this blog since I first started writing it in… *checks notes* 2010. Gosh. That is a long time. I also wanted to use this post to talk about some of the challenges I’ve experienced while blogging and how I plan to (hopefully) overcome them.

First of all, why did I start a blog? Well, I had been on Twitter for a year or so and a good number of the people I followed and admired on there had their own blogs, so the main reason was because it seemed like a cool thing to do and most of the cool people I knew were doing it. I am nothing if not easily influenced by those around me!

So I started writing posts on various different subjects – anything that caught my interest that I thought might be fun to share and talk about with others – such topics included music, history and culture, nature etc. Here is a list of the number of posts I wrote each year:

Screen Shot 2018-05-05 at 16.21.26

I won’t dwell too much on these stats, because I’m aware that they don’t mean anything much to anyone apart from me, but I do want to comment on one thing that I noticed. Unsurprisingly, the first two years of this blog were the most productive – probably something about the novelty of having a blog and that I was particularly active on Twitter during that time and engaging more with people online. However, I had written more in the last couple of years than I thought I had – I think my reduced use of Twitter (I recently had to change my account for personal reasons) has meant that I  wasn’t promoting the blog as much and therefore not receiving as much feedback from others, so blogging has perhaps felt a little bit less productive and rewarding.

I then thought about what my own favourite blogposts were – which ones I was most proud of having written. My top three were:

Cecil Sharp & the Folk Songs of Somerset

The Mountains of the Moon

The Guinea Pig Club

The first and the third posts listed above generated a fair amount of comments from readers, which I think is partly why I was proud of them – I was genuinely interested in the topics and had put a lot of time and effort into researching them, so it was wonderful to see people respond to them in a positive way.

I then decided to look at the stats and see which blogposts had the most views. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the three above were also in the top five most viewed posts, along with the two below:

My Top Five Wodehouse Books

BBC Proms

Bearing in mind that I used to get a lot of enjoyment out of blogging, why do I find myself doing so much less of it nowadays? I think the main three reasons are:

  • Lack of time and energy (I’m currently studying for a doctorate in clinical psychology and it is a LOT of work!)
  • Loss of confidence – I read so many blogs and articles online now and absorbing so much of other people’s work seems to have had a kind of numbing effect and also makes me wonder whether I really have anything unique to say or add, when so many voices are already saying so many smart, funny and intelligent things already. I also re-read a blogpost from 2014 earlier and genuinely felt that my writing was probably not up to that standard anymore, which is rather sad.
  • Laziness – this is linked to the previous point regarding the vast amount of material that is already out there for us to engage with – articles, blogs tweets, shows, podcasts, books….it’s so much easier to passively absorb someone else’s work than actively create your own, but, as Elena beautifully articulates in thisexcellent post., this can often lead to a feeling of dissatisfaction and a lack of fulfilment – which is something I am currently experiencing.

Having considered all the barriers to engaging with this blog, I then needed to think about whether it was worth continuing with it. I am reluctant to give up on blogging, because I feel that having a creative outlet is important, and while various craft activities are becoming increasingly popular (e.g. knitting, jewellery making), I have little skill and talent when it comes to making things with my hands – and very little patience for sticking with something until my skill level improves. It therefore makes more sense for me to stick with an activity that I already enjoy and have some skill in, namely writing.

I have yet to decide how to increase my productivity – I had given some thought to writing about interesting issues that I have engaged with as part of my doctoral training in psychology, but I’m not sure that I’m comfortable mixing work with pleasure, as it were, and I would rather, for the most part, keep this blog a separate space. The two productivity strategies I currently have in mind are:

  • Set a word target per month – or a target for number of blogposts per year (this latter strategy has been at least partially successful for me in previous years)
  • Set aside a certain amount of time per day/week to plan and write blogposts

If anyone reading this has any other suggestions for how to keep my writing muscles well exercised, please do let me know!

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4 Responses to Overcoming Barriers to Creativity

  1. outnaboutweb says:

    Hi there, great post and insight in your blogging journey! I personally think that setting aside a few minutes every day or every other day, maybe just before going to bed or something is important in order to keep your writing muscles fit as you describe it. At least that is my favorite time to write. Thanks for mentioning my post, by the way and I hope you find a fitting solution for your blog! Have a wonderful day,
    elena

    https://outnaboutweb.wordpress.com

  2. honoria plum says:

    What Ho, Zanyzigzag.
    I love your posts, even if it sometimes takes me a while to get around to reading them.
    My favourite is probably ‘Overcoming Boggarts, Dementors & Roderick Spode: The Transformation of Emotion as a Coping Strategy’. Not just for the Wodehouse connection, but also because it’s about a subject I am fascinated about.
    I struggle with inspiration and time as well. Or rather, the things I’m inspired to write about require a lot more time and research (to do well) than I can devote to them. Whereas the things I have time to dash off don’t feel worthy or inspired enough to bother followers with. I still think it’s worth continuing with though, because I enjoy doing doing it.
    I am really looking forward to seeing how your blog evolves over the coming years too.

    • zanyzigzag says:

      Thanks for your comment Honoria! I did enjoy writing the Transformation of Emotion one – I’m glad you like it 🙂 I feel exactly the same about writing posts – I much prefer writing about deeper, more interesting topics, but it does take a lot more time and effort!

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