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[personal profile] alexandraerin
So, a big part of what I've been going through lately--or at least an exacerbating factor, I think--has been that I've been stretched too thin. I started cutting back on outside commitments, where I can, and tried to re-focus on the things that are most important to me.

Having wrapped the then-current book of Tales of MU up, I figured I'd take a week or so off to prepare for the next one, write and post some side stories during it... but I found that I was creatively bankrupt. The well was dry.

And at first I panicked. But then I remembered that the thing to do when you can't do something is... something else. So I've been doing other things. One of the things I've been doing is keeping in mind a quote by artist Marshall Vandruff:

"One reason that people have artist’s block is that they do not respect the law of dormancy in nature. Trees don’t produce fruit all year long, constantly. They have a point where they go dormant. And when you are in a dormant period creatively, if you can arrange your life to do the technical tasks that don’t take creativity, you are essentially preparing for the spring when it will all blossom again."


See, I often have the thought of taking little breaks from writing Tales of MU. That's part of why it's divided into books. But how often do I actually do it? If you look at the description of my original plan above, it was to spend a week still writing entirely new short stories in the same universe. And while it's true that writing different things can function as a sort of creative/emotional palate cleanser, it's a change of pace, not a break. Over the years I've kept doing this, every time I needed a break. I'd end up writing an alternate universe story. Or one set in the past. Or focusing on other characters. I didn't take a real break, not on purpose... only when sheer physical/practical circumstances made it impossible, like around the move, did I stop trying to write and update the site on a regular basis.

Even when I'd planned a break, even when I'd needed a break, I'd felt like I owed continued output. More than that, I was afraid that if I stopped publishing--stopped feeding the beast--it would turn on me. The whole thing would fall apart if I didn't keep moving it forward.

Well, I can't do that indefinitely

And when you can't do something, you do something else. And when you reach a breaking point, you take a break.

So I've been thinking about my characters and their lives and histories and desires, in a way I haven't really *had* to do in a practical sense since soon after the project started, but in a way that's helpful to do so. I've been thinking about what might come next. I've been thinking about things that have nothing to do with the story. I've been thinking about whatever comes to mind. I've been working on Angels of the Meanwhile.

I've been making a video game, a multiplayer retro rogue-like game called I Made A Dungeon! It actually started off as an intellectual exercise in dynamic map design for the advancement of my Hedgerow HAll project, then turned into an actual game that can be played. I worked on it for a few hours most days, before work. When I finally gave in and let the fields lay fallow, it took off and took over a couple of days completely. A few people have played it and enjoyed it in its very early state. Right now it's in what I'd term an embarrassing state of undress... stuck halfway between the initial interface used for trying concepts out and something that looks halfway decent and can be operated without direct, intimate knowledge of the game's workings. Once it has more of its new outfit on, I'll make it available for play.

It might seem like game-making is a funny way to spend a creative break, but it really is more of a technical challenge than a creative one. It exercises the problem-solving parts of my brain more than the gears that are engaged by writing.

Also, we recently watched our way through Parks & Recreation and I recognized something in the character of Ben Wyatt, when he created a needlessly elaborate tabletop game in a fit of depression. This is what I do, apparently. This is how I cope, when I'm anxious or depressed. I find worlds that can be reduced to manageable quanta. I take solace in creating rules and maintaining balance.

The length of my creative break is at least partially dependent on outside factors... it would be difficult for me to come back from it next week due to external factors, so I've set the end of it to be the week afterwards. I am looking forward to writing again and I'd be very surprised if I'm not writing before then, but I'm not making any plans to be. I have no goal to fail, no target to miss, no schedule to fall behind.

Right now, I think that's just what I need.

Broken link?o

on 2015-04-22 12:56 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] unisagi.livejournal.com
I just thought that I would let you know that none of your Blog entries here have cross-posted to LJ for the past several weeks. I don't know if that is supposed to happen automatically or if it is something that you have to do manually.

Before I thought of checking your DW blog, I was worried that something had happened to you. I am glad that isn't the case.

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alexandraerin

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