I suck at being creative. I think maybe this is why I bounce between different mediums. I've drawn, written, composed and even tried my hand at basic game development, and over the years my understanding of creative pursuits has evolved. I was blown away at how attention to detail and understanding of depth in one area translates to another, but this knowledge has come at a price- the inability to create.

Writers block is something most writers get from time to time and I've unsuccessfully been trying to shake it off for nearly a year now. My understanding of it is that when you create, it's very innocent. You pull something out of nowhere; it's just an idea normally without any context. You explore the idea until you have enough of a grasp of it to put something down and it's formed enough to work with. Then you switch to editor mode and evaluate the thing in order to make it work to a standard you are happy with. In my case, writers block has come from the early onset of editor mode.

Actually most writers block comes from early criticism. There are thousands of pieces of writing out there on the subject; I've read books and articles and anything else I can get my hands on to try and understand the phenomenon and they all boil down to this general idea: your standards are too high and you need to work on quantity instead of quality until the situation resolves. I've had a few ideas for stories floating around for a while now which I keep putting off starting. One is a character based horror/drama in which a girl, Elle, is abducted by an estranged family to be their slave. There is meant to be a story within a story based on a book written by the girl; a generic adventure tale focusing on an enthusiastic adventurer named Heather, who was based on Elle and her twin sister Ash. Since Heather makes a cameo in Elle's demented fantasies, I wrote her story out with little care for structure, consistency or depth. It snowballed into a colourful epic spanning seven proposed stories entitled the Black Gauntlet. Now with it's own deep mythology and characters, I am more excited to write this than the story that spawned it.

As you may have guessed it's not coming up with ideas for fiction that I'm having trouble with: its writing music. To repeat myself, I think that all creative forms have overlapping principles; attention to detail, depth, theme, economy of content, etc. I'm not going to bore you with music theory, but over time I found my youthful enthusiasm and high output had eroded to disenchantment and sparse clones. It's caught up with me in a big way recently and I realised how badly this has affected me; I guess that's why I'm writing this. I used to write things that made me happy and excited and it had morphed into trying so hard to create perfection that I hardly created anything at all. Like my fiction, I have ideas but it's the motivation to put them into action that escapes me. On the occasion I do get started it quickly disintegrates as I lose patience for some of the weaker aspects.

But that's just me- plenty of people pull their hair out for years trying to write their next masterpiece. The problem is trying to replicate success. I've noticed that everyone I've spoken to regarding writers block has written something in the past that they now hold in high regard. They are trying to recreate it in order to "just get writing again" because it holds some mystical quality that they look for in whatever it is they do. Sometimes this pressure comes from outside as well, but it always amounts to the same thing. They keep coming up with ideas and killing them off because they don't immediately meet these criteria.

Anyway, I've repeated myself for long enough; I'll just sum it up by saying that you need to be able to step back and realise when you have created a restrictive environment. Being creative is about freedom and imagination, not about whittling away at perfection. Quality of work is all subjective anyway, we've all seen a movie we didn't like that everyone else thought was great, or heard a song to the same effect. I doubt there is a critic out there who can consistently create wonders of imagination that are enjoyable while navigating the flaws they so readily point out in others. Artists and critics both have a place in the process; just don't forget which one you are.