On Working Through Dry Spells

Creativity, Writing

Last month I got super excited about writing about creativity all through March, and sketched out a posting schedule and topics I wanted to write about, but then, life happens. My flow was interrupted by the anxiety of waiting for my grandmother’s passing, by making travel plans, by traveling and being with family and all of the swirling thoughts and feelings that that entails, and by the busy schedule that awaited me when I came home. (I’m not always so busy, but busyness happens from time to time.) Before all of that, I was talking on Facebook with various people, including my brother Ryan and cousin Tricia, about the creative process and how to tap into that flow of authenticity and what to do when you can’t. Tricia reminded me of the Pablo Picasso quote, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.” Ryan compared being an artist to being an athlete – you have to practice a lot and stay in shape.

There have been plenty of times when I’ve considered chucking this blog. It’s not REAL writing (whatever that is). I’ve worried that it’s distracted me from REAL writing (whatever that is). Or sometimes just having all of these thoughts of mine preserved in internet amber gives me the heebie jeebies and I want to somehow bury them and run away. But ultimately I think I keep blogging because this is my practice. This is how I stay fit and active, creatively. I just keep writing, and sometimes it’s just writing for the sake of writing and other times I get to tap into that Source and write something that feels real and whole. I try never to publish anything that feels totally wrong. But it doesn’t all have to be great, and having a low pressure outlet like this is an essential tool in my process. I have other outlets – I have been keeping a journal for a few months, hand written, where I write ANYTHING that comes to mind, good, bad, silly, anything. I’ve been dabbling in very loose memoir comics, keeping them super casual and just for fun. I think it’s also good to have outlets that are NOT directly related to your creative pursuits, though that’s something I’ve not been keeping up during the winter very well. Getting your body moving and/or doing physical work with your hands can get your creativity flowing in surprising ways. I enjoy doing yoga, tidying or reorganizing the house (spring cleaning is my JAM), taking walks with the kids when it’s nice out. I’m a pretty indoorsy and sedentary person but I do appreciate the way getting out of my head for a while can refresh and reset my mind.

Ultimately it’s about maintaining forward momentum when you hit a dry spell in your work. Don’t get paralyzed. Believe that you’ll hit your stride again and until then you have to just keep going in whatever clunky way you can manage.

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3 thoughts on “On Working Through Dry Spells

  1. So, I’m not sure (although this may contradict what you said about everyone being an artist in some way) that I have a creative part of my brain.. I just don’t feel it, and when I try to create something I am always disappointed. Depressing enough for you?? lol I have been battling confidence since I can remember. Every day is a full on challenge for me. I am never comfortable with what I am doing, it is extremely frustrating. It’s almost like I don’t even know how to control my own brain?? I’m not even sure if that’s the best way to put it… but every day there is a big questing mark staring me in the face. What am I doing today? Will I be able to learn something and get something accomplished? If I do can I do it again? Is there anything I can hold onto to keep me motivated? Can I remember the things that I have learned recently and practice them? What am I good at?????
    More than anything I would love to know what it is like to get in the “groove” of working and to feel a sense of accomplishment. Trevor says I’m doing a great job, and I am SO thankful to have him by my side, but I just don’t quite feel that way. I do love my job, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it. I could be a full time EMT but I would much rather be a painter. But the amount of pressure that I’m under to strive for perfection is pretty intense. I am 27 years old and I have no clue of what I am capable of… It is such a scary thought to be so confused about life, but I do the best I can. I guess that is really all I can do is have patients and keep trying.
    But as I mentioned on Facebook, repetition is really how I learn things. I’m not a very good critical thinker and I blame my public school for that, they just never paid enough attention to my learning disabilities. But on the bright side I am aware of this and I am doing my best to change it. I think that is really important when you’re facing ANY kind of struggle. Just being aware of (but not dwelling on) what is holding you back and working hard to overcome it on a day-to-day basis.
    So that’s the story of my life! Ha not exactly a word of wisdom, more of a pitty story lol but sometimes a girl just has to vent 😉 Good luck with the dry spell!! Motivation is hard to maintain but not impossible to find!

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    1. I think you might really get a lot out of the book The Artist’s Way that I’ve been reading. I would love to send you a copy if you’re interested! Don’t get too frustrated by feeling like you can’t connect to that flow yet. It is not so easy to get back in touch with that if you’ve been cut off from it your whole life. It’s a process! I am still working on it even though I’ve always been encouraged, at least on some level, to see myself as an artist. You might be looking in the wrong places and/or just have a lot of mental blocks up that you need to dismantle one by one. When you do tap into that – it’s totally an inner gratification that no one else has to tell you is good, you just know it.

      Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way says that blocked creatives often surround themselves with creative and artistic people and are drawn to them without realizing that it is because they are creative too – so I bet that is true of you. 🙂 E.

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      1. Wow. That does sound like it is right up my ally, as I really do love being surrounded by creative people. I would love to give it a shot!

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