Just a few weeks ago, I was bemoaning the fact that my writing seemed to be blocked, I couldn’t come up with anything to say, and my creative juices were all dried up. There were some wonderfully comforting comments from readers. Deirdre advised me to “trust the silence to show me other things,” and Mardougrll assured me that my writer’s voice would “come back, if you just keep putting words to paper, words to paper.” Bella said “I know that you will be back with words that flow like a soft stream, just give it time. It cannot be forced.”
Guess what? They were right. For the past couple of weeks, I can’t seem to get my fingers to move fast enough on the keys, or find enough time to write all the ideas that are in my head. I find myself scribbling away on my lunch hour, while sitting in line at the bank, on airplanes, and on the backs of napkins in coffee shops (where is that notebook, anyway?)
What’s up with this rollercoaster ride of creativity? Why is it that sometimes the writer’s well is full to overflowing, and other times the dipper comes up with nothing but sludge?
I think it’s all a matter of balance. In that period of time when I was “blocked,” my life outside of my writing was a mess. I was involved in a huge work project which had me sitting at my computer for long hours deciphering medical records, and I had a major vocal competition to accompany. In moderation, activities like these can be grist for the creative mill. However, these were all consuming events, leaving me no energy to process anything remotely creative.
In the past few weeks, my “real life” has returned to a pretty even keel, so I’m free to wander about, both physically and mentally. I’ve taken some long walks in the park, sat under my big red maple tree reading books and sipping iced tea, and last night I got my bicycle out and went for a long ride, loving the cool breeze whipping through my hair.
In Right to Write, Julia Cameron says that “if we lead chaotic lives, it is difficult to write smoothly and steadily. If, on the other hand, we lead lives that are too regular, too sterile, our voice as writers will also go flat, leaving us straining for effect in an attempt to manufacture interest.”
In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott says that those times when the words won’t come aren’t about being “blocked” or “stuck,” they’re about being “empty.” My creative well sometimes gets sucked dry by an overload of obligation and reposibilities. Whatever the reason, our creative spirits occasionally need restocking, and each one of us must find our own ways of doing that, of refilling the well. For me, it involves time~to walk, to read, to notice the world around me and to revel in it, to spend time with the people I care about and really listen to them. And yes, it also means working and pursuing the activities I love ~but all in moderation.
How about you? How do you restock your creative well?