I have been thinking about my insatiable need to create things. The perpetual-motion machine inside my brain is only happy when it’s working. Clearly, I am trying to distract myself from my own mortality and that of my loved ones and so on. Now that I no longer slavishly devote that energy to my corporate masters, I need personal projects, which is one reason I started this website as a lifelong project. I have a lot of mental energy that needs to be expended regularly so I don’t explode and hurl my ashes into the sun.
Today I’m in one of those phases where I’m absolutely itching to create something, but I’ve finished my short-list of projects and I don’t have the Spark. Writers should write every day regardless of inspiration, so I’ll continue with that, but I really want to sink my teeth into something I don’t quite have in my grasp yet.
It’s time to try to get back into absorbing and thinking about other people’s work. Read, watch, play. Read especially. Then actually talk about the things. Being able to evaluate someone else’s work and articulate the strengths and weaknesses can help an artist evaluate their own work. That being said, you need to make sure criticism and meta-type writing doesn’t deprioritize your own creative work. Energy is finite, spend wisely.
For the writer, a book review can be an easy way to write and satisfy the impulse, but if you spend all your time writing reviews you’d never write your own stories. Other people’s media can become a crutch that way. That’s why I’m still a little on the fence about fanfiction. I think in the short term it has the potential to be a great writing exercise, but I have seen creative people expend a tremendous amount of time and energy creating meta and fanfic and I have to wonder what would happen if they devoted that energy to creating something original and new, something that told their story. There are merits to the fanwork ecosytem but uses creative energy and therefore competes with personal projects. Not only that, fanworks of a commercial property are basically free advertising, so if a company actively encourages it I’m like *side-eye* yea I bet you do.