Friday, June 26, 2020

Rest Breaks for Creative Artists--How to Get Your Mojo Back

Perhaps you know these important signs of creative burn out:  an overactive inner critic, a blue feeling about one's work, a sense of deep depletion despite relative safety and well-being.

Of course, relative is the word these days.  But each of us has our baseline.  And if the summer is rolling around with all of these symptoms, you might be giving so much out in your life, you haven't replenish the part of you that brings the good things back.

I've been noticing this myself.  Whenever I'm teaching a lot, as I am now, and my private coaching schedule is full, I see my own burn out happening.  My book-in-progress doesn't work, never will.  I can't find time to write or even think about being creative.  

Since Covid entered our lives, I pay closer attention to my health, as many people do.  I have increased my walking and outdoor time, I'm juicing again and eating better.  That's all good.  But I'm still fighting with my book.  That's not.

My spouse mentioned the word retreat the other day:  "What if you just need to get away, take a retreat with just you and your book?"  You wouldn't believe the rush of relief I experienced.  Me, who teaches writing retreats (I love them!), actually getting one?  Of course, I had all kinds of excuses.  No time, insignificant compared to what else demands attention right now, the book is for the dogs anyway.  But the image lingered over the next few days, growing in delight.  

I remembered Dorothy Allison, a favorite author (Bastard out of Carolina, etc.), talking about how creative artists require what she calls "necessary boredom," the place where creativity bubbles up.  That's what retreats give me.  That's possibly why they feel so edgy, too.  What will I do with all that free interior space?

Covid took over ever spot of free space in many of our lives, because small tasks became complex.  Waiting for restrictions to end means putting that open space on hold in some way.  I give myself other freedoms.  Why not this one?

As if the universe was conspiring, we got an email yesterday that our annual vacation to the north coast of Maine and the Canada Maritimes has been cancelled by the family who owns the beach cottage we rent.  Canadian borders are closed, the quarantine requirements to traverse provinces are stringent.  Letting up may not happen for a while.  

At first, I was devastated.  Then I remembered the "retreat" idea.  What if I took that already-dedicated time, or a week of it, for my own retreat?  As Jen Louden talks about in her Woman's Retreat Book,"If there is one cosmic law I know the consequences of ignoring, it is this one:  you cannot create from an empty well."

This week, consider your creative well.  Take stock.  Do you need to feed the artist?  Is he or she starved from too much output and not enough input these past crazy months?

If the answer is yes, let the idea of retreat begin to tickle your creative self.  What kind of rest break could you carve out for yourself?

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