There’s no single right or wrong way to be creative. It’s what works for YOU!
I beat myself all the time when I hit a slump in my creative cycle.
I think, “What’s the use, nothing’s selling, everyone’s telling me I’m doing it wrong, I’m out of ideas, NOW WHAT??!!”
When I’m in this part of my cycle, it feels pretty hopeless, and I feel pretty useless.
Today I had an ‘aha!’ moment.
This. Is. NORMAL.
I’ve written before about my amazing experience in Lyedie Geer‘s Theory U workshop. (Theory U represents a business model, but Lyedie’s presentation focused on this also applies to our creative work.) (Also synchronistic: As I looked for a link to her blog, I found another great article that helped me today!)
In any creative cycle, there are periods of intense productivity. And also periods of intense confusion, frustration, trial-and-error, and self-doubt.
It’s only when we define ourselves by that second half of the equation that we lose hope. Lose faith in our process. Lose respect for ourselves, as an ordinary, often brilliant, sometimes lost in confusion as a human being.
During the Covid-19 shut-down, I went into a major productive period during the Covid-19 shut-down (my latest shrine series). I always want to figure out how to make something in my head. Does. Not. Work. Instead, I took a deep breath and went with trial-and-error. It DID work!
Then some exhibition deadlines came up. More inspiration! And I made two more Shaman necklaces.
And then the deadlines were met, the creative surge ebbed, and I was in a major period of lull.
I went into a major period of sifting and sorting through my supplies: Sorting my artifacts by size, use, and color. Moving on items that I will never use, and won’t need for classes. Organizing seed beads (yup. I KNOW.) was the biggie. And I’d berate myself for wasting valuable time when I could be doing something more productive.
The rewards of this period? I got a lot of sorting done! And it was very soothing indeed.
The downfall? Long periods of sitting and repetitive motor activity resulted in tendonitis, loss of muscle tone, and not much else getting done.
Finally, last week, I told myself, “ENOUGH!” My goal: Make one thing today. One horse. Or an owl. Or a blue bear.
And I did.
But it didn’t swerve me into full artifact-production-mode. I still felt “meh”.
And then, yesterday I had a huge insight/inspiration:
I want to make more Shaman necklaces. The really big ones, with big beads, big critters, statement pieces.
They don’t sell quickly, that’s for sure. And my goal has always been to make at least one a year. To remind myself that the MAKING is what’s important, not the selling. To encourage myself to “go BIG”, no matter what the outcome is.
But I made a big blue horse yesterday. And as I made it, intending it to be a small sculpture, I thought, “This would make a great Shaman necklace!”
There it was. There was my answer, my next step forward.
Today, I’m actually excited to get to my studio again.
Today, I can see that the “fallow” period was not a fluke. It was not useless. It was not a drain of my resources.
It was a period of rest, and restoration. A time to let the next inspiration find ME, instead of demanding it show up RIGHT NOW.
I’m feeling better today.
And I hope I’ve made YOU feel a little better today, too.
What is your creative cycle? Similar? Vastly different?
Do you recognize it when you’re in it? I’d love to hear what other creatives experience!