The Creative Thrill is Gone?

I declare that my creative zest is at an all-time low.

I’m writing—vaguely. I’m reading—a little bit more than what I read for work. I started reading a sparkly, potentially inspiring new manga filled with wacky fun and adventure, partly in the hopes that it will fill my imagination with that same wacky fun and adventure—and I haven’t returned to it yet because after doing my working and eating for the day, I no longer feel like staring at the screen that much longer.

Sorry, Dai no Daibouken. Sorry, Pop.

I have deeply enjoyed some of the media I’ve imbibed over the past few weeks. But do I feel thrilled about my own process of creation? Not so much.

Reason #1: I’m Going Very Slowly

After I made a declaration that after writing 99.99% of my latest project Catgirl System I would, instead of finishing that draft, go back to older chapters and clean them up to get a better idea of how to end things, my speed tanked.

I feel like everybody but me saw this coming!

As it turns out, it’s hard to keep momentum when you don’t have outside pressure. Even if you believe that as a person you are more than capable of manifesting the discipline to do it…you then have to make sure that nothing else whatsoever gets in the way.

And in my case, I need to get my own guidelines more often. When I look back on any given moment—say, when I look back at my current self five days from now, five weeks from now—what will I be most glad that I did?

Well, right now, I think I’ll be glad that after I got The COVID, I tried my best to stay indoors, get proper medical attention, and not cough on people. I know my mother would be glad that I tried not to work too hard. But I personally am less glad that instead of maybe restricting my work on personal creative projects, I let it nosedive like I do whenever I am chilling with friends and family folks. This time I’m less proud about it.

So once this occurred to me, I told myself, “Okay, just comb through five chapters per day.” That amount immediately dipped to 3, and now it’s like 2.5, I don’t even know anymore.

I believe that I can comfortably pick up this pace…provided that I also take regular screen breaks, look away from my monitor once in a while. I’ve been getting tension headaches more often lately and I can’t tell whether or not that’s The COVID.

Reason #2: I’m Not Feeling Creatively Challenged

I certainly am doing creative work, and a lot of it is work that I’m happy and privileged to do. But now it’s familiar work, not very challenging work. So when it comes to my own personal projects, I need to find ways in which I can branch out and creatively stress myself out. I’ve gotta put myself in hole-less cardboard boxes and tear myself some exits.

Like I said some paragraphs ago, I’m in the Catgirl System editing process. There are loads of changes to make, some little, some character-arc-level. Many elements just don’t work, and I have to caulk them as well as possible. Only…none of them are massive brainteasers or anything. Sure, I will have to cook up some new scenes, but as long as they’re funny, cool, and make sense given the characters, plot, and world that’ve already been set up, it will turn out well. I have enough confidence (reckless confidence?) to have known that going in.

Therefore, even though Catgirl System is by no means finished yet, in my head it feels “solved.” Which is unfair of my mind to do, but…it has been done.

My solution to this? I’ve decided to pick up an idea that I had a while ago, did substantial planning for, and work to develop it into a story that not only will be Great, but will also push me out of my comfort zone.

Except…I can only do this once I’ve finished Catgirl System. Them’s the rules, and if I don’t follow them, I suspect I’ll never, ever finish what was meant to be a tiny, short-term project. So Bigger, More Artistically Ambitious Project needs to stay on that backburner.

In the meantime, I can rest assured that I have a pretty good plan set up. And to make the wait less agonizing, instead of looking for challenge as I edit Catgirl System, I can at least “follow the fun,” remind myself to pick up the elements of the story I find most amusing and run with them when I can…or even just to laugh at crap I’ve written earlier, to remind myself that this story, maybe, can work.

“When You Work, Be Quick to Start, Slow to Stop”

I started telling myself this at some forgotten point within the past month or so. It’s just a way to remind myself that when I’m doing a task that can be classified as work or work-related, often I start to drift away simply because “it’s work, and I could be doing some sweet, sweet non-work instead.”

But unless my head is actively hurting or there is some really pressing matter to attend to, often I can stay in that chair and continue plugging away, if only I remember to convince myself to stay for those extra seconds.

Can this help you? I dunno, I don’t run your brain. But you can try it if it resonates with you.

A Final Note on My Catgirl System Progress

Wait…is Book 1 technically kinda done?

Yeah!! Well, no. But yeah!!!!!

Under my “PARTIAL REWRITE WANTED” column, I have 9 chapters listed; under my “FULL REWRITE COLUMN,” I have 1. (Most of the rewrites are me deleting one character who did as much as a lump of potatoes.)

There are some dinky little words I want to change throughout the manuscript (would I rather call things Quests or Achievements? should I capitalize Treasure or Level?). I made several images accompanying the story that need some changes, nothing that an hour won’t fix. And beyond that, depending on where online I decide to publish the story, I’ll want to format the story differently website by website.

But, um…yeah, Catgirl System Book 1: Dawn or whatever I ultimately decide to call it is perilously close to completion! There’s an adequate cover and everything.

I don’t have big dreams for this story, but to be honest, I have some idle dreams about fun stuff I could do related to the story that’s purely for the enjoyment of making and sharing. Sure, maybe they would be sequestered on Patreon at first, but I think it would be healthy to later release them for free on my personal blog, because not everything has to end up leashed to productivity.

(…Wait, visitors to my blog enhance productivity of the blog by racking up views. Dammit.)

Thank you for reading, and Patrons, thank you for Patreonning. (Yeah, speaking of.)

If you can’t stand roast beef, try reading about awful horrible weird scary cartoons instead. Conversely, if actually you like roast beef, learning about book and album covers that are ahead of their time should be right up your alley. But if you agree with me in believing that BlazBlue kind of sucks, you may in fact prefer to read about a character from BlazBlue who sucks.

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