We're all familiar with the seasons. I like to think of them as energy cycles. Winter is the season of rest when energy is low. Spring is the season of growth with a burst of new energy. Summer is the season to enjoy the warm weather and the seeds that were planted in the spring. Energy is still high, but there is time to laze around. And in the fall there is a last burst of energy as the weather gets cooler and everything prepares to hibernate again. This applies to all life, but I also think it applies to creativity.
Each creative project has it's own cycle - usually a burst of energy to start, a period of moving forward at a somewhat steady pace, and then a burst to finish. Sometimes a project will have multiple cycles like this. The part that I always forget about is that in order to complete the full cycle you need a period of rest. It is tempting to bounce from project to project without taking any down time. We're sometimes not given a choice. But you can't be creative forever without a rest.
I like to think of the creative impulse as a stream. It runs through the universe, swirling around us. This may sound a bit woo woo, but stick with me here. Each of us has a well within us that is filled by this stream. As we create we draw on the well, slowly emptying it. At some point the well needs to be refilled from the stream or it will run dry, and with it our creativity.
Filling our well is something we an consciously do, but we must make the time and space to do it. It's a vital part of the creative process. How long it will take to fill depends on how much you have drawn from it. Case in point - at the end of 2017 I wrote almost 60,000 words in five weeks to finish a draft of a book. Then I edited the first chapter and submitted it to a writing contest. I had intended to give myself a few weeks of down time and then dive into my next project. But it took me five months to start writing again because I had drained my creative well dry without realizing it. It took me five months to refill it.
Our creative energy is not limitless. It's one of the reasons people burn out or get stuck. By recognizing it we can do something about it, even if that something is to wait. So, the next time you find yourself stalled make some time to fill your well and comfort yourself with the fact that it's normal. Natural.
Where are you in your creative energy cycle right now?
Graphic and Photo by Sophia Dunkin-Hubby