Creative Stagnation

When I think of creative stagnation, I think of general stagnation. I think of the load of advice out there about overcoming it. And about how it’s not really relevant. Stagnation seeks rabidly for movement. It judges tip-toed steps and second-guesses every move you make. It listens intently to the words of people you seek out, even if those people don’t have your best interest or seek to pull you further into the muck. Stagnation creates internal rivals and outer diminished confidence. It is quiet and it is loud, rejecting comfort and falling into fragmented bits. By some descriptions, stagnation is movement in itself. In fact, everything is movement. But creative stagnation is a special kind of movement – disorganized, frantic, grasping, resigned.

mountains photo by Jonathan Knepper

Stagnation is a great form of contrast. When I live in creative stagnation, I look for calculated explanations when I find nothing else to hold onto. Creativity is some of the following for me:


Textures are definitive differences between objects. They are tactical and range in characteristics – smooth, cold, rough, fine. They induce responses – repulsion, pleasure, comfort. We speak of textures, explaining how objects feel, opting to wear clothing that is not abrasive, and making sensory connections between textures and materials.


Movement is the incredulous swing of life. It happens internally and externally, in collision and in unison and in solitude. Movement transforms the vessel and its surroundings – mentally, physically, and psychologically. It marks our placement, displaces and makes room for us, and lingers in short breaths and racing hearts.


Humans are a species of collectors. We place value on the objects, experiences, and environments that we surround ourselves with. Collections are accumulations. And while our culture is dead-set on resets, detoxing, and youth, our collections are some of the most remarkable and revered entities and bodies of work that we cherish.


Backgrounds are templates on which a tremendous amount of data about our lives is built. When we listen to the wrong people, our stagnation increases because we are consumed with the happenstances of our lives engulfing what has not yet happened. Backgrounds are tapestries – framed in our minds, white-washed, wrinkled, distorted down to the stitches.

Differences with sames

Differences are abundant, and we measure them against consistencies. Creativity lies in remarking fluctuations, inconsistencies, and faltering. Consistencies play into the momentum of long-term creativity and creation. Balancing the sides of differences and sames attaches a core to the external.

Granular experiences

Granular experiences are those that hold significant meaning, detail, or emotive theme. When something is captivating, we focus intently on the form that is presented to us, and align its qualities with ways that we can remember them. Our memories shape-shift experiences over time and we cling to the webs that we have reinforced.

Attention to detail and themes

Creativity pays attention. It courts what it seeks to draw out, enlarge, and place at the forefront. Details and themes feed the unification of a creative act. It heightens our watch and changes our field of perception. In exchange, it asks neither rigor of observation nor begs reciprocation.

Cohesive incoherence

Creativity is incoherent, but it is cohesive. It borrows from the canon of all past creations and reconfigures known pieces into a new whole. Incoherence at its best is unmatched clarity. It points to something so familiar or unfamiliar that it crosses our rigidity. Cohesiveness makes it viewable. Attraction felt to incoherence is through cohesion.