When the Best Creativity Techniques Are About Doing Nothing
Sometimes, I sit down to do my creative stuff and there’s nothing there.
My concept of creativity centers around writing, so when the words don’t arrive, the panic does.
Over the past week I’ve been consumed with the “professional” world—working as a story creator/producer for a video shoot here in Portland (a gig I got through this blog!) and beefing up resume stuff to find money while my free travel book swirls around the land of agents, awaiting someone’s interest.
(Book Gods—are you listening?).
There’s only so much energy in a day, and it seems that the more logistical and business-y my thoughts, the fewer creativity techniques I have for my personal pursuits.
Sure, I know about creative resistance and the many ways to tackle the Beast:
1. Sit there, wait (and don’t allow yourself to get up or be distracted)
2. Just start: write through it
3. Set a Stick committment
4. (Read more thoughts on Resistance here or in Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art)
“Each day is a new day, and the temptations to slack off or procrastinate present themselves anew every single moment we put our hands to the plow and get to work. And each time, the Resistance has another chance to defeat you. Every. Single. Day. This battle never ends, never goes away. There is never a ceasefire or surrender. You will always be under attack as long as you are alive.” – Jeff Goins
Still, I may know all the tools and creativity techniques in the world and a portion of my mind will continue to stomp her feet, clench her fists, and yell no no no!
Sometimes, I am determined. I just do things. The two voices within me—the Creator and the Resistor—duke it out, and the Creator wins.
And sometimes, a third voice, from a deeper place—not recalcitrant, not a scribe, but a voice of comfort and wisdom—simply says:
“Let that tantrum thrower have her way. I got your back, take a load off. Your words will return.”
And I listen. I allow myself to believe that things will work themselves out. I choose not to force the writing.
Instead, I turn to a draft I can polish and publish. I edit old posts. Sometimes I just read—that beloved activity I feel guilty doing because such little work and such big pleasure must mean it’s wrong!?
(I’m working on that mental glitch, I promise.)
I try to ensure that time not spent creating original work is at least time spent investing in the craft of creation.
Trusting the Process
There’s value in showing up for the Muse, but I’m learning to trust that I can’t always dictate on what the Muse will have me work.
Since my creative quest is to “be a writer,” there’s a weasel of a thought that slips into the room during those hours (or days) of writer’s block and tells me:
“You’re done for. You live the life of a human being on a ball floating through space and look at you, you still have nothing to say!”
But after a more than a year of the dogged pursuit of making a living off creativity, one of the most valuable things I’ve learned is that the creator returns.
Though she may slam the door and refuse to come out, skip town unannounced, or hide shaking under the sheets, if I leave the door open, she will come back.
And I’ve come to trust her needs. Like me, she sometimes needs isolation to recharge.
This year of pursuit—of learning, changing behaviors, observing my habits—has brought me to a place of trust with that inner writer and all the voices around her. I can breathe, I can relax. She’ll come back.
Roadwritten is about the creativity techniques and musings found during this quest to live how I want. It’s not just about being a writer; there are unlimited types of creativity.
It feels like this is the place to remind you that whatever the creative thing in you is, it’s always going to be there. It’s not going to go away, though it may hide out on occasion.
What you do with it, though, is up to you and the voice you listen to. Is it the Resistor or the Creator?
You can opt for security. You can opt for fear. You can shut the creativity away . . .
But if you’re asking me? I say let it in.
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