Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Creative Cycles: What To Do When The Honeymoon is Over

One overlooked benefit of long-term blogging is the opportunity to observe how one's creativity emerges through cycles of subject matter, tone and form. I don't know whether this reflects some sort of psychological circle of the seasons or just my attention-deficit chasing its own tail. I've also noticed these cycles in social networking, with periods focusing on link sharing, social interaction, observations, humor, etc.

Yesterday, I returned to the Twitter micro-rant format, which is a series of fortune cookie messages on a particular topic. Yesterday's was #creativity. Here are a few of the tweets, along with additional thoughts:
  • A creative project, like a marriage, only gets real depth after the honeymoon is over. There's nothing like the rush of a new romance, be it with another person or one's Muse. Barriers within and between vanish. Communication is effortless and joyous. Insights flow freely. Breakthroughs abound. But all honeymoons end. And that is when the true work begins and the most precious gifts are given and received. The safety created through the honeymoon period paves the way for the next phases, when deep, hidden, forsaken, wounded and undeveloped aspects of self can emerge into the light of day. Both relationships and art offer the potential to heal, actualize and integrate these shadows. Unfortunately, the strong negative emotions that accompany these emerging ghosts can chase us away. And so we run from relationship to relationship and from project to project, never digging far below the surface.
  • Trying to power through a creative block is usually futile. It's usually better to take a break and let the Muse do the work. Instead of running from difficult relationships and projects, some of us habitually attempt to power through relational and creative blocks with urgent brute force. Although this can be an effective approach in short bursts, it is not a sustainable strategy. Blockages are a natural part of the creative and relational cycle when we are working within our depths. The key is to have enough confidence in an eventual resolution to "Let go and let Muse". Any in-progress work of mine that gets cranky is sent to bed for a nap.
  • Be all embracing in brainstorming and ruthless in editing. There are two problems that often plague our creative work. The first is too much self-censorship at the start. Since it's impossible to envision what may grow from the seed of an idea, it is best to capture every idea that emerges in the brainstorming phase. The second mistake is to be so enamored by our creative fruits that we end up with the artistic equivalent of a dish that includes every spice on our shelf.  To truly worship the Muse, transcribe her every whisper. To be clear, that's "transcribe", NOT "share". 


Miso Susanowa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miso Susanowa said...

Botgirl... get out of my head! :D

This post came at the perfect time for me and gave me some breathing air in my own doldrums. Thanks for writing it ^_^

sororNishi said...

I think the desire to create, like the desire to find the Right Partner can be a serious block.

Far better to revert to a childish play mode than get all serious about the search for a solution to these desires.

Often, I find, the Opposite, when I get blocked, works well. Turn everything 180 degrees and look again.

Raza Lane said...

Great post Botgirl.

I really related to your description of the creative journey, and potential pitfalls. I usually try to power throguh creative blocks and end up burning out, with no energy to continue. I also self censor at the start so much that I often leave good ideas to rot in the wilderness of my imagination.

Your post really clarified many aspects of the creative process in a concise and meaningful way for me. Thanks.

Yordie Sands said...

you say "One overlooked benefit of long-term blogging is the opportunity to observe how one's creativity." Amen, Botgirl.

Botgirl Questi said...

Miso: Do I have to get out? ;) Thanks for letting me know you found the post helpful. Without such feedback, I'm never really sure whether anything I write is resonating with anyone.

soror: For sure! It's like that "funktionslust" concept I posted about the other day. There's a huge difference in doing something for the joy of the doing, rather than for some end-result or artifact.

Raza: You're very welcome! We all fall into unconscious creative ruts from time to time. Fortunately, everyone isn't hooked in the same place at the same time, so we can give each other a hand.

Yordie: And Halleluja! One this I don't like about the social stream is that the past seems to get washed away on an hourly basis. It's good to step back once and a while and try to contextualize.