Colleen Claes

Colleen Claes
Location
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Birthday
January 08
Title
Freelance Writer
Bio
I'm a freelance writer and blogger when I'm not working 9 to 5. I graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in film and screenwriting. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of media (usually film) and culture. I've contributed to Examiner.com as the Chicago Cult Classics Examiner and have been interviewed by USA Today for my film expertise. I write at a few other places (both for myself and other people), which you find below My Links.

Colleen Claes's Links

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AUGUST 9, 2010 11:49PM

Creativity and the 9 to 5

Rate: 1 Flag

Why can't I write? Or do anything creative or productive, for that matter?

When I was unemployed for too many months after college graduation, I thought I felt useless because I didn't have a job. Now I have a full-time job that I enjoy, and I still feel useless outside of it. How is it that I make money doing something I like and I still feel like I'm not accomplishing or getting at anything?

Maybe my soul is still lacking something by not being in school. Though I'm still learning new things every day and informing myself on the goings-on of the world. The other reason is that I am simply being lazy outside of work...and on purpose. Yes, maybe I'm still getting accustomed to the schedule of a full-time job, as it's a first for me. But after five plus months, it doesn't seem to be getting any easier.

"How the hell do people write their first novel, or play in bands that actually perform at places, or do their laundry all while working full-time?!" I ask myself, as I sit in yoga pants with no intentions of doing yoga or any physical activity for that matter on a Saturday afternoon. Every weekend it's the same thing: "I have the day off. I could do ANYTHING!" my mind exclaims. Only to find myself still sitting at my laptop reading nothing all that important on the internet four hours later.

Primarily, it's the writer's block. I'm a creative writer and the most I can ask for per week lately is one idea that I actually pull from my jumbled mess of a brain and transfer onto paper. But that's all it will be - a jotted-down idea. I don't run with anything; I don't write anything. Not in full. And I'm growing weary. Music is great and often inspiring, but then a brilliant piece of music will simultaneously remind me of how I'm not producing anything of creativity. Even as someone who never has nor ever will possess musical abilities. I'm not sure why, but it just depresses me. Like the other day when my friend said, "Did you know that the lead singer of Arcade Fire was making his first album when he was 23?! That's our age!" It depresses me because I start to think, "What the hell will I have done when I'm through with being 23 in a few short months?" Or 30. 35. 40.

I already tried blogging. For quite a while, with a heightened number of posts during my unemployment days. But I fear that this has lost its romanticism for me. Though I will admit, having thousands of people read something you wrote on a platform designed for feedback always felt pretty awesome. Again with the 9 to 5-induced laziness, combined with a weird lifelong writing inspiration clock perpetually set at 2 AM - I have not blogged in a long time. A note on blogging from one of my writing teachers stays with me now, even though I rejected it at the time. He said, "I just fear that you'll be writing this great stuff and no one will read it. And if they do, okay...But then what?" I'm starting to think he has a point.

But now I've come to this...blogging. Again. I guess I don't care about who reads it. This time, I just hope to write more and release more thoughts by not limiting myself to a "write about these topics only!" kind of structure. I want to stop feeling guilty for not producing anything. I need to purge all of this somewhere. Even though I rolled my eyes at those people that always sat there in college classes and said, "I need to write! I just need to! That's why I'm a writer!" (rolling my eyes again as we speak), the truth is... I might need to.

Because when I'm not writing, I feel like I'm faking being a person who is real and whole. Not every person needs to write to be real and whole, of course, but I've concluded that perhaps that is the case for me. I think my 7-year-old self might agree. Sometimes I can see her, going off from her assigned group for the elementary school writing contest, saying, "Copying down facts about horses is boring. And a cop-out." And sitting alone lost in her own imagination, writing some corny but (relatively-speaking) promising fictional story about a girl who finds a stray horse and convinces her parents to let her take it in. She may have come in second only to a first grader (much to her agitation), but it wasn't about the placing in the end. From then on, writing would define her, and she would do it nonstop, and it would never become a fad. Any adult or mentor can tell me now with all sincerity, "Keep writing. You're good at it," and it will feel good, but somehow it won't really take effect.

Then she looks up at me with eyes too big for her small head and scowls. That's when I think, "You're an idiot. Why quit now?" And write something.

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When I got out of college and had lots of time on my hands I couldn't write either. I even had a part-time job (newspaper reporter) that paid me (poverty-level wages) to go out and talk to people and write, which should have started my creative juices flowing. Nothing.

I didn't start writing until much later when I had a family and a time-intensive job. It comes at different times for different people--John Milton didn't write Paradise lost until his mid-fifties.

I think it's a combination of accumulating experience and impressions to write about, and sensing the urgency that you have to sit down and get them written. When I had lots of time and not much fodder, I came up dry too.
Thanks for the encouraging words... Whenever I go through a funk / depression / breakdown about writing and why I'm not and what am I doing with my life, I try to tell myself it always comes back when it's right.