Naming the creative challenges

It’s not easy to be creative at the moment. I thought it was just me, but having put a hand up to admit this, I’ve found a lot of other creative people are struggling to be creative. Why is it hard now? Well, there are reasons that impact on many of us, and I think we need to talk about what’s going on because much of this has implications outside of the creative industries, too.

  • It’s harder to create if not creating feels like personal failure. If a sense of guilt, inadequacy, loss of inspiration is haunting you, and that feels like it is your fault, that can just add to the blockage.
  • The world is terrifying right now. There are so many big issues, so much that needs changing, that any small creative act seems too little in the face of it all. We may feel guilty about not undertaking other forms of activism, we may feel our art *should* be able to do more and be frustrated that it can’t. The climate is not a good one in which to be a sensitive and creative person.
  • Following on from that, this is not a climate in which you can afford to spend too much time imagining things. It is harder than it has ever been to image anything good, and if you accidentally start imagining how any of the not-good stuff is going to play out, you’ll hurt. Many of us are not imagining too much, as a protective measure. You can’t spend most of your time not imagining and then expect the imagining to turn up for specific jobs.
  • Angry, hate-laden, nihilistic attitudes are everywhere. Put something good out there and the risk of being torn to shreds is higher than ever. Especially for those of us who aren’t creating material with that tone, graphically violent and violently sexualised material. It can feel there’s no point making anything kind, tender, beautiful, when the world seems to be craving the exact opposite of these things. Of course not everyone wants the ick, but the icky demographic shouts loudly and a lot and drowns out quieter voices sometimes.
  • In the current environment, being passionate feels risky. Many of us are keeping our heads down. It’s harder to be a passionate creative if you feel you’re surrounded by wary and measured people, or worse yet, cynical cold people.
  • The creative industries are a mess, and it is ever harder to make a decent living doing it. This is a real barrier for many. Some of us do okay being creative part time. The industry causes despair, disillusionment, financial misery, stress and challenge. Creative people have to be able to afford to eat, the majority of us are finding it hard to do what we love and pay bills.
  • Wider society offers massive instability – housing costs, health care, the price of food – it’s not like throwing it all in to get a ‘sensible’ job until things settle down is even an option. Are there any sensible jobs left that can genuinely be relied on? There are people who find instability and uncertainty are fuel for their fire, but you may not be one of those people and the massive scale of insecurity may be impacting on your concentration.


That’s probably not an exhaustive list, but it is a place to start. I’ll be following on from here in the coming days by talking about what we can do to change things – not as individuals but in small groups. Because if you’re feeling beaten, trying to pull yourself up is bloody difficult, and there are other ways.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

18 responses to “Naming the creative challenges

  • Jacqueline Durban

    Thank you so much for this, Nimue. I am indeed struggling to create and much of what you say resonates with me. It helps that it has been drawn out into the light to be looked at face on. Thank you for that blessing.

  • John Davis

    Hi Nimue…my view on this is that it’s impossible to take on the “world”. What we can do, however, is our own little bit of creative goodness…we can only be responsible for that. A small step…but a positive one. Perhaps linking with like-minded folk will help with mutual support. John /l\

    • Nimue Brown

      Yes, this makes a lot of sense to me and the more I look at it, the more persuaded I am. it’s a question of how… but, I’m keeping thinking and there will be more blogs.

  • zoolonaudio

    Working on my new album, creativity left me behind somewhere along the way recently. Picking up your point that it’s hard to imagine with all that’s going on, I shut myself away from global news completely (for the moment, at least) and have been on a roll lyrically and musically ever since.

  • Sheila North

    Can so related to this, have been unable to write for around a fortnight now, hope I’ve broken through today with a poem about George & Beryl Formby (gods bless Wikipedia).

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Maybe one could deal with it much the same attitude that I treat age, health issues and disabilities in my life. If I focus on my limits, and what I can’t do, I would be miserable indeed as there are so many of them.

    So I focus on what I still can do. If I have less
    energy, then it becomes more important to use more of it on what I want and enjoy doing. I have to pay attention to what I do accomplish, and be my own cheering section.

    Pay attention to any unexpected good things happening in your life, even very small good things. After all almost of us get stressed by very small bad things. So reverse, play less attention to anything that does not actually endanger you. As far as difficult things, do note when something difficult turns out even a bit less difficult than you expected.

    Meanwhile, find those things that you can do right now. You need something that can be accomplished to lift you mood.

  • Simon Marshall

    Yet again, I can certainly relate to this, Nimue. I was especially struck by what you said in your fourth point about there being no point in ‘…making anything kind, tender, beautiful, when the world seems to be craving the exact opposite of these things.’ I often feel that – that the world/potential audience doesn’t want what an introverted, sensitive person has to offer. And if I’m not suited to ‘getting out there’ and selling my ‘product’ then I may as well not bother putting pen to paper. These days, it’s so hard to remember that the ‘small things’ (which is the stuff of so much great art!) are important.

    • Nimue Brown

      I think the necessity of ‘marketing’ – or the apparent necessity, because there are better ways of approaching it – grinds a lot of creative people down. That’s a topic I should come back to at some point, thanks for that!

  • janeycolbourne

    Some very good points here.

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