How a Creative Slump Taught Me 8 Important Life Lessons

Carli Jeen

I can't remember when it started.

Did it happen right after I received another negative comment on an article I wrote for work? Or did it happen when another person slammed me for being a non-credible food blogger? Was it because I wasn't getting the attention of other people on my Facebook page?

There are questions I continue to ask. But like the many I've previously asked, I never received an answer to them.

My creative slump spiraled out of control that it led me to a depressive state. I hated and blamed everyone for all the wrong things that were happening to me. I kept convincing myself that I was cursed long enough to actually believe it to be true.

I would post Facebook statuses as an "experiment" and see that they truly weren't getting any comments or likes-- these experiments further led me to affirm that I was doomed, that I was genuinely and utterly unlucky in social media; if that's a possibility.  

I kept asking questions. For affirmation. For assurance-- Are you reading my blog?

But deep down, I knew I was talking to air.

I wanted to give it all up. I wanted to stop everything I was doing and rediscover what I loved about writing in the first place.

Here are some realizations I made during this creative slump:

The people you thought were out to get you weren't actually out to get you. Sometimes, it's all in your mind and it's all your own expectations of yourself.

It is important that you keep evolving as a writer. Keep reading. Find people who inspire you.

Find your happiness. Or create it. If you can't find happiness, look at the little things and remember to be grateful.

Stay away from negativity. You don't need this in your life, especially now.

Everyone has creative slumps, too. You are not alone. At least two other friends have reached out to me and have shared that they, too, experience creative slumps.

Knowing these realizations, I've slightly emerged from my creative slump. I have accepted that these things happen, not just to me or just because I'm unlucky, but to everyone.

Just recently, I attended a PPC seminar that took a whole weekend. Everything about the workshop was a bit too technical for me (at this point). But it's funny because I never knew that workshop would snap me out of my creative slump. The funny thing is, while I was conversing with the speaker, Jun Baranggan of Cebu Digital Hub, he told me something that slapped me right on my face without him even realizing it.

You need to keep attending conferences to keep learning new things. And when you attend these, sit in front. Talk with the speaker when the conference is done. The speaker will not know who you are unless you introduce yourself.

For the past four years, I've limited myself from attending conferences since I thought I knew all these things already. I kept thinking I would rather focus on my work and just read anything I want through the internet. So yes, I knew those things… until eventually, I ended up knowing nothing at all.

I was already #latetotheparty. All the people who started alongside my journey as a freelancer had already stepped up in their careers. I remember attending a speaking engagement in Makati where Bianca Consunji talked to us about her work as an Editor-in-Chief for a magazine. Guess what, she's now in New York working as a Supervising Producer for Buzzfeed News.

Bianca Consunji, Columbia Journalism School

Another writer who I can remember from my freelancing days in Makati is Niña Terol, whom I still get in touch with on occasions, is a powerhouse on her own. Apart from being McCann Philippines' AVP for Corporate Affairs, she has also co-founded Kick Fire Kitchen, which is "a team of motivators and idea catalysts who are passionate about inspiring creativity, innovation, and purpose-driven growth in individuals and teams (in different parts of the world!)" In addition to that, Niña has been an inspiration for me with her weight loss journey.  

Niña Terol, Spark Fest 2017

So many of the women I started with in my freelance career has already reached so much compared to me. And after being in Cebu for the last four years, I've realized that it's me who actually needs to step up. Opportunities will come. But if you pride yourself of what you already know, the learning stops too.

This is why I have decided to stop blaming my luck on social media and start doing things right. I am trying to unlearn everything I already know and add new things to my plate. Hopefully, I'll be able to reach my goals too.

So what have I learned from my creative slump?

  1. Wallow in the darkness but don't let it burn your light.
  2. Step outside and do something else for a change.
  3. See the good in everyone and in every scenario.
  4. Daydream and REALLY do something about achieving those goals.
  5. Listen to people who can motivate you.
  6. Let go of control and learn that YOU have to change.
  7. Fall back on the process.
  8. YOU are not alone.

Like Bianca and Niña, their paths may have been better now but it's definitely no easy way to the top. I know they've had their share of personal struggles to be where they are today. But the important thing is that they did not give up.