Tuesday was challenging: a new project; a large group of fresh faces; a tube strike. I made it through. I left home at the crack of dawn to run the first in a series of ten 4 hour workshops for a gallery in Chichester. By the end of the day, I could barely walk, let alone think straight and was having visions of stopping at the first service station for an extended nap in order to safely drive the rest of the way home. Instead, I chose to go directly to the nearest café for a hot chocolate and lemon cake refuel. My intention was also to log on to Facebook to see what people were sharing in the group on the second day of my online creativity course. seeing the posts there prompted me to pick up a pen and add drawing to my refuel stop. Doing something so different from the focus of my day, in a fresh environment, was just what I needed to shift the energy and prepare to hit the road. Art has a habit of doing that for me… art is my de-stresser; my changer of energy. I sailed home, to uplifting music, with a head full of ideas, under dramatic skies. Today, I used art as a meditation… a way of clearing my mind of the clutter of the day. Again, it shifted the energy. In doodling away, my mind flashed back, for the first time in years, to the times when, as a teen, drawing had been my quiet friend, leading me out of one feeling and into another, more comfortable place. The reminder today? To draw when I feel uneasy; to doodle when I need to de-stress; to make art more often as it has so many benefits.
Over the past few months, I have been working, on and off, on a project that has sapped my creative energy. At first, I avoided it; pretended it wasn’t there; focused on different things, but with a deadline approaching and no way out, I got stuck in. And then I got stuck again.
As a Creator, I felt far from in flow. I had been asked to write out and turn into lessons the work I had been doing off the cuff for a period of years… the work that came freely and easily to me when faced with a room full of artists. This recent request was work, not play. How lucky I am that my work does, at times when I am in flow, feel like play and how blessed I am to be in a position that allows me to work alongside artists with whom I can share thoughts, ideas and inspiration in both directions: I am inspired as much as I inspire in this and in any teaching role. It is a privilege to be paid for such work. But turning my thoughts and ideas into a teaching manual? That is something entirely different. My creative energy dried up. There was little room for inspiration or for art, but hindsight it a marvellous thing. With hindsight, I should have said no. I should have rejected this part which has taken over my brain and killed my creativity for way too long (and a week would be way too long, but this has been months!). The energy taken in doing this work left little room for my creative heart. And now… now that it is almost done and I have a little bit of space for myself and for my creative mind to take flight once again, patterns are emerging.
Today and yesterday, for example, the patterns took the form of mandalas, drawn out unconsciously, elaborate embellishments to the notes I was taking whilst speaking with people who ignite and inspire me. No brain-sucking energy there… just uplifting conversation with Creator friends whose spirit and ideas motivate and excite me. And guess what…? As I move back towards my creative friends, the creative energy flows naturally, spilling out of me without me even noticing until pages are decorated and ideas and energy spreads, outwards and on… from my notes to a fresh new page where the mandalas continue, a focus for my restless hands. That is the pattern… sharing freely with creative souls, I am at my most creative. Block my mind and my hands are also tied.
My creativity helps me focus and relax. I’m inviting and welcoming it back in and recognising the patterns. Play more, make more art, do more of what I love and more creative energy will flow. Next time I am faced with a task that is so far from in flow, I will simply say no. There is always a way round it… someone else for whom that task will be easy; even fun. Next time, I will find them and free myself to do what I do best.
What boosts your creativity? What saps your creative energy?
What can you do today to remain in the zone of flow?