Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Writer's Life: Reviving Creativity After Personal Trauma (Desiree)

*massive hugs* 

Let’s just start there—with a hug. One spanning over cyber space to wrap you in comfort and to reassure you that you aren’t alone in this world. 

If you’ve landed on this post, then you’re probably here for one of two reasons. 

1) you’re curious as to what juicy details I could share about the issues tormenting my life. In which case, you’ll leave disappointed. LOL. This isn’t the time or space to unpack my drama. 

Or 2) like me, you’ve also battled grief and trauma and are grappling for a glimmer of hope that reviving a dead creative heart is possible. That, my friend, is the light I’d love to share with you today. 

A reassurance that your current pain isn’t a permanent end to your creative journey. 

Quick Disclaimer:  I am not an expert in anything. LOL. This is not professional advice or a resource to self-diagnose. 

I am just one woman who has had her heart broken, shredded, trampled, killed, and misused more times than I can remember. 

And yet … I’m still here. I’m still creating. 

[side note: I give all credit to my Heavenly Father for being where I am. It is by His strength alone I stand.] 

So what I share here are recommendations from one overcomer to another, for the one reading this who is desperately trying to not give up. 

Recommendation One:

Prioritize Healing 

Not only physical healing! But emotional, mental, and spiritual healing are important for our overall wellbeing and for reviving our creative heart. 

I’ve met some individuals who wear their pain like a badge of honor. I, for one, would rather bury the pain and grow stronger from gaining the victory found in healing. 

A lesson I’ve learned: I only extend the time endured in sorrow when I choose to carrying around the baggage instead of releasing it. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve keep myself in dark seasons because I thought there was no hope. Friend, please know that there is always hope

It’s okay to give yourself time in your schedule to book appointments with qualified counselors and / or pastoral staff. 

It’s okay to step down from certain administrative responsibilities while you give yourself time to process and the mental space to grieve (regardless of the type of trauma, grief and mourning tend to walk hand-in-hand with pain and sorrow). 

Quick note: I don’t recommend making the decision to quit jobs, projects, etc. while in the state of heartache (unless advised by a professional). Stay within your trusted groups and friends. People were made to be with people. Unless of course, those areas are adding to the trauma, are toxic, or cause triggers.

It’s okay to take a step back so you can learn to breath again. 

There’s no shame in being broken. Just know that you don’t have to stay broken. 

*more hugs* 

[there’s a lot more I can unpack here, but for the sake of time, we’ll move on to the next point]

Recommendation Two: 

Create for the sake of creating, not with the pressure of selling 

Now don’t get me wrong, I fully understand the weight of towering bills. The pressure of making sure everything stays current and you don’t fall behind, which would create an even harder situation. 

Definitely make sure yours and your family’s needs are met. 

Although from the perspective of reviving a creative heart, I’ve found that it’s best to be gentle and move forward in small increments. Too much pressure to “perform” for others will cause me to procrastinate like I was born an ostrich instead of human. 

So in the journey to heal and revive creativity, allow yourself blocks of time to create just for the sake of creating. 

Take a skill you know and love—i.e. crafting stories—or explore those you’ve been too self-conscious to try. 

Here are a few to get you thinking (listed out in random order): 
  • painting (with oil paints, acrylics, water colors, etc.) 
  • photography (it doesn’t have to be with a “fancy camera”, this is honestly about seeing the world in a fresh way) 
  • ceramics / pottery 
  • flower gardening (yes, it can be an art form! Have you seen some the elaborate flower gardens people have been designing?!) 
  • baking / cake designs 
  • thread and yarn workings (needlepoint, croquet, knitting, and other yarn things I don’t know about) 
  • graphic design 
  • pyrography / woodburning art (just please don’t burn yourself!!!!!) 
  • handlettering 
[side note: if you tell me you have “no time” then I will tell you to make the time. I’ve learned that we give our time to what we love most. If you list out all the things you do in a day, then you’re revealing to me your priorities in life. That can either be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the direction of your focus. Don’t use the excuse of “having no time”. Revisit your priorities, and allow yourself to have a fraction of what you’re giving to others.] 

Recommendation Three: 

Change the medium in what you use to write with 

I remember a time when I couldn’t sit at my desk without my whole body shaking. Just being in my office or at my desk would cause an onslaught of dark emotions. I would spend hours crying, and then it would take me days to recover from the emotional setback. 

[If you’re in a similar situation as I described here, please be sure to revisit Recommendation One and focus on healing.] 

Thankfully, writing (or other forms of creating) is only as stationary as we make it. 

Here are some alternative mediums I’m exploring (or have explored), in case one inspires an idea for yourself: 

Ideas involving actual words: 

—go “old school” with pen and paper 

Yeah, I know we can’t turn in a stack of notebooks to our editors, LOL. They would reject the project in a heartbeat. ;-) However, please remember these ideas are to help climb over hurdles and knock the dust off our creative muscles. We’re not after perfection; we’re focusing on reviving our creativity. 

—record your words using a device and transpose the content 

This can be done a few different ways. Either by a recorder or a software like DragonSpeak. 

I’ve actually used the voice memo app on my phone before. Then once the scene was finished, I set my phone and headset side-by-side to have DragonSpeak transcribe the words for me. That way I didn’t have to be at my desk. 

Bonus: try these options outside for a more therapeutic setting. Nature is amazing! 

Ideas not involving actual words: 

So the following ideas won't help with deadlines, but they are great for exploring your story from a different angle. Thus stimulating your creativity. 

—paint a scene from your current work-in-progress 

It doesn’t have to look like a profession created it! Lessen the pressure! But playing around with the colors and visual elements of a scene is so fun. 

And if painting really isn’t your thing, you can always play around with Photoshop and create a digital art image of your scene. 

Or even try modeling clay, welding (if you have the skill and access to such things), sculpting. Anything that gets you out of your own head and doing something creative with your hands. 

—complete an item on your character’s “bucket list” 

This one is so fun! What is an activity or an event your character would love to accomplish within the story that you could do or achieve in real life (within reason and within safe boundaries!!). 

I love this one for several reasons: 
  • It will get you out of the house. Which—for those on the path toward healing—is something you will argue with, however, it really is good in the longterm for your wellbeing. 
  • Depending on the activity, the moment could be a great way to explore the sensory elements for world building. 
  • By putting yourself in your character’s shoes, completing their “bucket list”, would be a great opportunity to deepen your understanding of who they are and what motivates them. Bonus: there’s a good chance your character will teach you more about yourself in the outcome. Not that I would know, of course. *cheeky grin* 

*more virtual hugs* 

I wish I could sit across from you, face to face, and share the hope my heart longs to pour out. *even more hugs* 

Trauma—regardless of its form or cause—effects everyone differently. But there is hope that one day you will regain your creativity. 

It may not look the same—or even feel the same. In the midst of heartache and sorrow, it may feel like your creative heart died. However, with a little time, love, support, and a whole lot of Jesus, your heart can live again. 

Then … you can turn your personal experience into a story and share the triumph and victory that resulted from pressing through your darkest hour. I sure plan to! 

One last disclaimer: 

If you’ve experienced trauma, please do not go the journey alone!! Even when we try to convince ourselves no one cares or we’re all alone, that isn’t the truth. Please find a trusted friend, family member, or pastor to share your story with. It’s okay to be broken, but healing is possible. 

And for those who have noticed a friend or family member becoming more isolated and withdrawn, DO NOT BE SILENT! Please reach out to them! You may be the only light shining into their dark world. 


Got an idea for reviving a creative heart? 

Please share! I’m always up for trying new things that leads to story inspirations. 

Drop your idea down below, and I may try it on my next adventure outing. :-)


  1. There is SO MUCH good information and advice here, Desiree!!! These are many of the very things I was advised to do a few years ago when trying to resurrect the creativity that I was certain heartbreak and trauma had killed. And the best part is that from where I am now, I can tell you that IT DOES COME BACK!!! It might take longer than you want it to. Mine took a LOT longer to come back than I wanted it to. But my creativity follows a seasonal cycle, fluctuating and changing forms as the seasons do, and with each passing season over the last couple of years I have gradually seen more and more and more come back, every time my creativity went through its usual seasonal shift.
    And this summer, for the first time, I suddenly stopped one day and thought "Oh - this is what it felt like before any of the traumatic stuff ever happened. This is what normal feels like."
    Like I said, it takes so, so long, but it DOES come back and it is 100% worth the wait to have it back, I promise you!!!

  2. Oh my goodness, your comment fills my heart with such joy!!! (sorry it has taken so long to get back with you!!) Thank you for the encouragement to keep pressing onward and to endure the waves, that what we fight for truly is worth it. And I was so excited to read your testimony about how you regained your creativity! That's so wonderful!! *throws confetti* Thank you for sharing your heart with me!! *hugs*


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