Under-Creative Syndrome

As a back-to-back article with my Over-Creative Syndrome article, I think it’s only fair that I address the other end of the spectrum when it comes to creativity. I think far more people have this problem than its annoying counterpart, but they are certainly both problems.

Most Under-Creative Syndrome stems from laziness. Thinking (chew on the Goldbach Conjecture, codebreaking, or the 15th Wish and you’ll see what I mean. So many people hate math for a reason) is hard, and writing is hard. Creative writing is a combination of the two. No wonder so many people are scared away from all kinds of writing, be it literature or non-literary works, fiction or nonfiction.

And since not many have a person standing behind them with a whip (a teacher, a parent, a boss, or a drill sergeant) to make them do this, they have to motivate themselves. Self-motivating oneself is maybe harder than either thinking or writing, since a person with self-motivation can force themselves to do whatever they want to have done, including writing and thinking.

In order to overcome this disease, you have to motivate yourself. Try incentivizing creativity. For every great idea that you write down and remember, give yourself a piece of candy, a cookie, or a Netflix episode. Celebrate your creativity: this will help you cultivate it (hopefully, with a desire to have written something) into a healthy kind of creativity.

Of course, there are two main kinds of Under-Creative Syndrome: a kind that appears in the writers, and a kind that occurs in they that are not yet writers. The kind I’ve been talking about thus far is the main thing (aside from fear) that keeps many from becoming actual writers.

The second kind concerns already-established writers, and usually is a result of laziness as well. A lack (or fear) of thought can occur in or out of a writer’s stance. When the writer begins to lapse into a state of repeating phrases or plot twists, perpetual weariness at having to write, or a banality of characters, the possibility that they may be suffering from Under-Creative Syndrome is very real.

The symptoms are degenerative: the more you have the illness, the worse your position will be when you get rid of it. Or, even worse, it may lead to your quitting of writing altogether. Usually, you think in circles when you have this sickness: you can still think, but your ability to think of new things is significantly hampered.

Probably the worst thing about Under-Creative Syndrome is that it makes it so you don’t want to get better. It acts as sort of a focusing lens on your laziness, amplifying it x2 or x3. It makes your under-creativity look like a minor and irrelevant problem, and blinds you to how badly you’re doing.

Before you ask, don’t try to cure this as a taking-the-bull-by-the-horns kind of way. Of course, you could force yourself to write something original, but more often than not this can lead to your hating what you’ve written, which is always bad. Instead, try a different way (more on that below).

But just because you shouldn’t cure it the direct way isn’t an excuse to let yourself sit with it. Instead, I’ve found that it’s helpful to read over parts of your work that you especially enjoyed writing. While you do, observe the parts that you thought were especially witty. Take pride in the statement “Wow, I wrote that” and give yourself a pat on the back.

If that fails, return to your original source of inspiration. Maybe you read an article that inspired you to write. Perhaps you read a biography of a famous author, or watched a documentary about one. Maybe you just read someone’s awesome book and though, “Wow, I wish I could write like that”.

Whatever first inspired you to write, read or watch it again. Try to recapture that determination and wellspring of ideas that just popped up within you. See if doing what you did gives you any new ideas on how to go forward with your novel. Try to picture yourself as you were before you started writing.

Again, Under-Creative Syndrome is annoying, but it can be beat. If you look it in the eye with determination, you can make it as a writer. One of our biggest challenges to our personal progress is…you guessed it…ourselves. If you can overcome yourself, that’s one step closer in your journey to becoming a master writer.

Good luck, and happy writing!

Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Until then, writers!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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