Dig deep when your creative well runs dry

Untitled Mixed Media Collage – LMeyer

In the end, there is no ideal condition for creativity. What works for one person is useless for another. The only criterion is this: Make it easy on yourself.

Twyla Tharp

Not sure if it has been the heat, or trying to adapt to the transition of re-opening, or simply a stubborn creative block but I have spent most of the past three weeks feeling unbearably stuck. I had been asked to finish some edits on a piece of writing to prepare for a submission and have been stymied every time I sat down to finish the work. Really the only pressure I was experiencing was from within my own head, a deadline that I had arbitrarily imposed so I was only accountable to myself to finish this task.

And the harder I tried to tackle it, the worse things got and of course, this then begins to influence and permeate other aspects of ones life.

I have worked for the past couple of years at creating a tool kit to use just when such a thing rears its nasty head. Going for walks almost always helps but its been abnormally hot so that hasn’t actually helped. Gardening, a favourite activity, right now feels like a survival battle with the elements and the normal meditative aspect of playing in the dirt and caring for plants feels worrisome and ominous instead. Photography, another go to in my bag of tools, just doesn’t cut it right now. I can’t seem to focus nor am I especially inspired.

Journalling which normally stabilizes has felt like a chore and the words that might best describe what I am experiencing remain stuck somewhere in my head but definitely are not cascading out onto the page where I most want them to be. My strongest inclination was to simply quit. To just walk away.

So finally at somewhat of a loss, I sat down with some papers and an old magazine and created some collages. And low and behold, the activity of creating “nothing” broke the log jam and I was able to at least begin to finish the piece that I need to send off to someone for feedback.

So after all of this, it seemed important to figure out what really had been going on. Was it fear? or simply too hot to create? or too many other life obligations and pressures that I hadn’t been acknowledging? I decided to go back to the page and write my way through it. Once my collages were in some semblance of completion, there seemed to be a release of some tension that was blocking my ability to move through what I needed to work on.

So I have concluded that it was likely all of the above and probably some other explanations that are elusive at this time. But what my journal pages did reveal was that persistence, especially in a state of agitated frustration, helped me to create something that resembled a mixed media collage. And once I was able to create anything, there was a shift – sort of like a well deep inside that somehow miraculously begins to fill up again.

And although I don’t exactly know how the process works, I am thankful for it and feel an overwhelming need to trust the process!

Stay healthy and safe!

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