As a creative, I am always on the hunt to find things that ease my creative process. Being a creative is often difficult as the pressure to make innovative products, from start to finish, by yourself is often the goal. For many of us, late nights and early morning mixed with caffeine highs and no sleep at all can lead to negative effects on your mental health.
For Lee Crutchley, he took his issues with sleep, depression, and creative frustration and created creative journals to assist himself in hopes of being able to be an aide to others.
His latest creative workbook, The Nocturnal Journal, a late night exploration of what’s really on your mind, is a late night snack that I recommend for EVERYONE! After spending two weeks, journaling through these pages, I reached out with a few questions for Crutchley.
AW: HOW DOES THE NOCTURNAL JOURNAL DIFFER FROM YOUR OTHER BOOKS?
I know this is a terrible answer for an author to give, but I don’t think it does differ that much. All of my books have come from really personal places, and this one is no different. This is probably another terrible thing for an author to say, but my books are literally made to help me first, and then I hope they have the knock on effect of helping others too.
AW: WHAT PROCESS OR WHERE WERE YOU THAT PROMPTED YOU TO CREATE THE JOURNAL?
It was while writing my last book, How to be Happy (or at Least Less Sad), which was a similar creative workbook about depression. I realized how much my mental health was affected by a long period of not sleeping, and I also realized how much more creative I am after a short period of not sleeping. The Nocturnal Journal organically grew from those two realizations. I realized I was and always had been constantly trying to tap into that late night creativity, but not push it so far that I fell off a cliff.
AW: AS A CREATIVE, DO YOU REGULARLY STRUGGLE AT NIGHT WITH SLEEP OR RACING THOUGHTS?
Honestly, I think I struggle with this more as a person than I do as a creative. I feel like my brain is constantly racing most days, and it’s often nothing to do with being a creative. There is literally so much going on in life, and so much to think about constantly. I give a lot of my daily time and energy to other people, so it’s at night time when I’m most often hit with all of “my own” racing thoughts. I have struggled with sleep ever since I was a child, but it’s only recently that I started to think of it as a struggle. I used to love staying up late on my own and not needing that much sleep, and I still do. But as an adult it definitely has more negative consequences on life.
AW: WHAT ADVICE/TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER CREATIVES IN ORDER TO GET THEM THROUGH THE DARK TIMES OR CREATIVE RUTS?
For dark times, it’s the easiest advice to give but the hardest advice to follow, and that is to “just keep going”. It’s literally all you can do. Just keep trying to get through it and keep moving forward, even [if] it’s only in the smallest of ways. For creative ruts it’s kind of the same advice, I guess. It’s not going to just magically go away, and the more you sit around waiting for that to happen the more you’ll find yourself stuck.
I think at times like that it’s important to not beat yourself up too much or take things too seriously. Mess around a little, and do something creative that you don’t usually do. Better still, do something you feel like you really “can’t” do. If you’re bad at drawing, or writing, or painting, do that for a while. Try not to pressure yourself into being good at it, because you already know you’re not, just enjoy the process. Whatever you create will probably suck, but it might spark some weird idea that you can bring back to your own work — and it will definitely remind you that are you are better at what you do than what you don’t.
AW: AS A CREATIVE, WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
For me it’s anything where I’m not fully in control of the process. I still find it hard to let go of things, delegate tasks, or even to ask for help. But I’m trying to embrace and force that upon myself more. I’ve recently been thinking way more about collaboration, and the value of having more people around you during the creative process. A big problem I have is putting pressure on myself and feeling like I have to do and be everything. That encourages those feelings of needing to be in control of every part of the process, and it tends to keep circling around. So I’m really trying to do more things where it’s not just me.
AW: WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS AN AUTHOR IN 5 YEARS?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this question lately, and I’m still not sure what the answer is. I’d love to write fiction, I’d love to make kids’ books, I’d like to write a screenplay, it’s a big list. Maybe ask me again in 5 years?