Fall of Inspiration: Techs, Drugs, and Creative Lows

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This post was originally written in Dec. of 2011. It acts as something of an explainer to our absence from the blogs. Now that we are back, we felt we should finally share the story.

When you are working in the techy fields, like the design and development industries one thing that is paramount to your mission is keeping inspired and having that spark that drives you to get as much fuel as it needs to keep you thriving. For freelancers, this spark is beyond necessary, it is life-sustaining.

But what happens when you are suffering with disorders that require medications which come with side-effects that sap and drain your creative energies from you? That, my friends, is when you run straight into a low point that you never dreamed would come.

The fall of inspiration is something that all creatives fear. It is a topic that we blog about with some regularity, and blog in prevention against with even more frequency. The interwebs are full of inspirational posts designed to keep the flames of imagination roaring comfortably, providing an unyielding surge of creative energy.

But recently, half of the Dead Wings Designs/Arbenting dynamic duo found the meds she had been on for her anxiety and depression were no longer effectively combatting these ailments, and so she had to switch to new meds. What happened next, what not something either of us were prepared for…

The Fall of Inspiration

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Summer was drawing to a close, and like with most freelancers, we had deadlines looming. Some were self-imposed as they were personal projects, some were not. Slowly, as if some flame that is gradually being denied oxygen would do, her creative energy began to flicker.

It wasn’t completely noticeable at first. Work pushed on, even if somewhat more unevenly than it once was, with more of the tasks falling on one side of the scales so to speak. Projects got wrapped up for the clients…but the personal projects, well that was a different story.

First deadlines would be adjusted, thinking that more time was certainly all that was needed. That eventually this downward trajectory of creative drive would break and a new peak would rise up from the valley things had sunken to.

But when we found that more of a plateau had been reached, with no steeply graded rise in the foreseeable path ahead, the deadline adjustments stopped. One project was dead. Others were suffering. The landscape we had grown so comfortable with was changing. Possibly forever.

For those who have never been impacted by a prescription med side effect sapping of creativity, this is not something that you can just will your way out of. When some of us hit creative blocks, we have processes and procedures that we follow to find our way around them. To break free of this blockade impeding our imagination’s progress.

Unfortunately, in these instances, those processes and procedures are useless. Their ability to lift us from these creative lows is gone.

In Case of Emergency…

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As freelancers we know that we have to be prepared for anything. Contingency plans are our proverbial bread and butter. We do not tend to operate with the full force and back-ups that a design firm would have behind them, so we have to prepare for the various scenarios that we may face along the way; and be ready to face them all ourselves.

When you are part of a freelancing team, this pressure is eased a bit, because as the old saying goes, two heads are better than one. But one thing that can happen, is you get dependent on the team always being at 100%. Sometimes, you fail to prepare for the one scenario that can impact things the most.

Maybe because you have this idea that the creative flame, especially when so passionately driven, cannot really ever be extinguished. Maybe because it is simply not something you are willing or able to admit that you may one day be faced with.

So you push those thoughts aside and fail to deal with them until the day they rear up and smack you right in the face. Demanding you not only acknowledge their existence, but declaring their presence right here and now. Preparation is great, but how prepared can we be for something that we just never saw coming? The answer is, very, VERY little.

It just hits you all at once and takes your breath away.

Everything Evolves

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When this happens, you are left with the same two basic options that we always seem to have: (1) Give up (2) Adapt & Move on. Everything evolves. And as freelancers our business, our mission, well it must also have the flexibility to bend and reshape for the future as industries and technologies change anyway.

This flexibility, this evolution is what can become our saving grace when the unforeseen attacks. At least, that is what seems to have been the case for us. With a few adjustments to our client base, and some tweaks to our own personal projects, we have found a way to keep this beast alive and kicking.

Naturally, we have a different idea of where things will go and exactly how we will get there for now. But we know which doors need to be left open for the day when the lows are maybe not so prevelant; and how to keep this ship sailing smoothly until the seas are calmed and we are back in familiar, creatively friendlier waters.

Fast Forward – Back to the Present

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Now, after quite a long road of recovery and a couple of shifted focuses, we have finally returned to our roots with a new drive. We learned some valuable lessons along the way. Perhaps harder than we would have liked, but we often don’t get to pick and choose our own circumstances.

We really appreciate those who have continued to follow us and keep tabs on us throughout the blog blackouts, and we hope that we will be better prepared should we find ourselves facing these chemically induced creative roadblocks in the future.

Basically, all you can do is learn to roll with those punches when and if they come. Keep a backlog of blog posts that you keep a check on to make sure they stay relevant. And adjust your workload accordingly when these times rear their ugly heads. If you don’t have a partner there to help pick up the slack, then you may have to look at outsourcing work if you face a fall of your own.

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