When an Introvert's Brain Stops Producing

A creative slump can be especially scary for an introvert

Posted Jun 03, 2015

Lars Thomsen via Flickr
Source: Lars Thomsen via Flickr


Did you hear that slamming sound?

That was me, hitting a wall. A creative wall. 

I didn’t just stub my toe on writer’s block. Or knock my knees against a little stone wall. No, this wall is eight feet high and three feet thick. (Approximately.) It’s been years in the building.

While I’m thrilled and proud of my accomplishments over the past few years, three books, innumerable blog posts on this and other websites, and articles in print publications, all this output has drained the creative well dry. My head feels like it’s filled with dust.

This kind of thing can be particular painful for those of us whose identities are all tied up in our thinking prowess. We introverts are proud of our busy brains, our deep thinking. While I dispute the claim that introverts are inherently more creative than extroverts, many of us are vain about our creativity. (And when I talk about creativity, I’m referring not only to writing and painting and such. Science, math, engineering—those too are highly creative fields.)

And so this is kind of terrifying. What if my youthful creative energy is completely expended? Maybe I’m finished. Done. Kaput. If I’m not creative, who am I? Just a hollow shell of an introvert? (Some descriptions of introverts make it sound like they’re just hollow shells of extroverts, but I digress…)

Or maybe I’ve just been stewing in my own juices too much and need to drag my extrovert out, get some people time, push out of my comfort zone. Although I went to a big, arty social event the other night and found it incredibly difficult. I bailed early.

You might be thinking "depression," but it's not. I’ve been depressed and know how that feels.

It is, however, kind of depressing.

I’m fortunate that my job requires that I keep stringing together words, sentences, and paragraphs, no matter what, because the bills keep on coming. So I can’t completely wallow in this creative funk. But while writing once felt like dancing, it’s more like a trudge these days. And much as I try to motivate myself on to do some of the other things I enjoy, such as sewing or drawing, the doldrums have me weighted down in inertia.

My creative friends, and I am fortunate to have many, have all sorts of suggestions: Take a walk. Get out in nature. Take a drive. Do something completely different. Accept these fallow stretches as necessary to creativity. Some of these things—walking, road trips—I do often. The others I will try.

Although I’m being pretty creative in coming up with reasons why those perfectly good ideas are no match for the wall I’ve hit. It feels insurmountable.

What do you do when you hit a creative wall?

Check out my books, Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever AfterThe Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World; and 100 Places in the USA Every Woman Should Go. Note that anything purchased after clicking through links to Amazon will earn me a few cents. Or, support your local independent bookstore; click here to find an indie near you.

Want to hang out with a bunch of cool introverts? Visit my Facebook page.