The Five O’Clock Muse


I’m incredibly lucky to have a job in marketing where I get to be creative every day. It’s fun, I’m never bored (well, almost never) and some days I can’t even believe that I get paid to do it. It’s awesome. But…but. Having been working a regular 9 to 5 for a few months now, I’m struggling with how to stay creative and inspired when I clock out. Sometimes it feels like I’m pouring all my creative energy into writing things like ads for doggie day care and press releases about corporate wireless plans and there’s not an awful lot left when I get home, fire up my banged up Macbook and stare down the page–the bete noir (bete blanc?) of writer’s blocked people everywhere.

Everybody says that if you’re really a writer, you’ll just write. It doesn’t matter how busy you are or how hectic your life is, if you really have something to get out, you’ll get it out. Now, I generally believe that we find the time (and the money) for the things that are truly important to us. The thing is, I write every single day, and I’m fortunate for it. I’m not waiting tables or working retail–I get to do what I love every day. And regular paychecks and generally affording life: very, very nice.

But it’s not quite enough to keep the writer in me quiet. Every single day for the past month or so, I’ve driven home thinking that I should write–really write–when I get home, but I haven’t just goddamn sat down and done it. I’ve tried a couple times, wound up wandering off to make dinner or read or fall asleep, when what I really, really need to do is sit down and write a shitty first draft (tm Anne Lamott). Saying that I’m too tired, or that I’ve used up all my creative juices (ick) for the day is bullshit and I know it. I can grumble about how only kids with trust funds and famous parents have time to be creative, but that’s a total lie and a cop-out besides (although a really easy one to fall into if you read Elle/Vogue/Vanity Fair)

So I know what I need to do. I tell myself I need to buy a bunch of books, and find some writer friends who actually live around here (which I do), and listen to some new music and take more walks…but mostly I really need to write a shitty first draft. More blogging, more writing, more action. Less bullshit. Not that complicated, except that it is.

How do you get out of a creative rut? And, if you’re someone who’s lucky enough to have a day job doing a variation of whatever your creative outlet is, how do you make yourself go home and work on your own  projects with energy? (Or do you? Do you eventually have to choose?!)

And will somebody please find me that list of people who worked in advertising and then went on to like, write The Great Gatsby? Because I just need that sometimes.

Comment or send me a tweet @ellenkstuart.



2 thoughts on “The Five O’Clock Muse

  1. You nailed it – write! Shitty drafts are shinier than non-existent drafts, aren’t they? One tip I suggest is break from the Mac, AND (this is important) scribble away in notebooks because all too often we associate computers with …. work! So sometimes it helps to break from the screen, and write by actually – dare I say it – writing! Not typing. Would you believe the first drafts of my first two novels (130k words and 125k words) were all handwritten. It’s an amazing release.

    Most of my professional life I wrote for a living and found it hard to write in my free time, so much so that I quit journalism for some time and became a teacher for a few years. And you know what? I still had a hard time writing on my own time. So why not get paid to do what you like, and, might I add, everything you write, be it ad copy, taglines, or a novel, helps you become a better writer. Helps you think concisely, omit needless words, portray a message clearly. Your work is making you a better writer, so long as you use these skills toward your personal goals. It’s a struggle, indeed, but I definitely think escaping the computer and remembering what it means to write on pages might help you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s