How often do you take pause to reflect on your creative process once something is “complete?”
Holding space to reflect on your process at various junctures is how we harvest insight, but it takes intention to do. In these final 3 days before my book is out in the world, I thought I would “process my process” here with you all and encourage you to do the same!
Over the next 3 days I want to share 3 insights with you that I have gleaned from the process of writing Creating Stillness, and then leave you with some questions and practices to reflect on about your own creative practice.
What better way to celebrate that to collectively hold space about the creative process together?
So, without further ado lets countdown with lesson #3
(Mini Mixed Media Collage exploring my energy)
I believe that we hold too high of expectations on ourselves around how much, and how frequently we should be creating. Just like all of you I yearn to dedicate myself deeply to creativity, but I also know that our energy and attention are precious resources and that we can’t do it all, all the time.
I wrote Creating Stillness over 9 months. I started with an outline, made a schedule, and diligently sat down for 1-2 hours at a time and wrote. Parts of it came with great flow and ease and other parts required research, thinking, and at times a complete wrestling match to say what I wanted to. This creative project was all encompassing during that time. I rarely made anything else, and all my focus was on the book. It felt like pregnancy where ALL your energy goes to creating a little being and everything else falls to the wayside.
I finished writing early April of 2022 and within weeks of reaching this milestone my whole world collapsed. First within days of finishing, my 3-year-old daughter began having a number of extremely painful joints which quickly ushered us towards a diagnosis of a very serious case of Rheumatoid Arthritis. All the while my father was reaching the end stages of life, in my book and other places I wrote about coming close to saying goodbye, and then suddenly it was time to do so. Both events happened within weeks of one another.
It felt like a scene in a movie where my focus opened up and my world was completely upside down. If either one of these events would have happened a month earlier, I don’t know what I would have done. I truly don’t think it would have been possible for me to hold space for writing and my family’s needs.
And the more I reflect on it the more I feel this all unfolded by design. Life doesn’t always give us lessons in such a clear and dramatic way, but I think this time this lesson came so clearly and starkly so I could really learn it.
Our energy follows our attention, and sometimes these limited resources are truly needed in other parts of our lives.
There is great power in this lesson.
Wherever our attention goes our energy will flow. So, we need to be careful about where we place our attention, or we will end up putting energy into things we don’t intend to…. If we ask ourselves where our attention is lying right now, we might find that its worrying about a loved one, lost in a labyrinth of depression, focused on our work to do list, hijacked by our phones, or likely a mix of many things. Sometimes our attention and energy are stolen by things that we don’t need or want to focus so much on, and sometimes our attention has shifted away from something we care about because we truly need to put our energy into something else!
Maybe we can’t show up to create right now because we need to focus our attention on a deeper unmet need? Maybe the best thing we can do right now is offer our care to someone in need? Maybe the distractions of life have pulled us away from creativity and it’s time to take back our focus? All of these things can be true attention and energy are a two-way street sometimes we need to be in charge and and other times we need to follow what’s calling us, both require us to listen deeply so we can be intentional about where our attention and energy go.
I can think back on many times in my life when I have been hard on myself for not creating, for being lazy, lacking dedication and follow through, all these little pernicious voices that scold me for stepping away from creativity. I can also think of countless pieces of popular wisdom around creativity that say the same thing, “show up no matter what or you will lose the creative itch” “you must battle the desire to slow down” etc.
What this experience showed me in very blunt terms, and what I think I have known deep down is that the energy and attention in my life are finite and need to be constantly rebuilt. The reality is that I am only one human being and I have so many connections, roles, interests, and obligations and that I truly can’t do it all, and that’s ok.
My attention is my superpower and where I choose to place it has great power and meaning because its where my energy will flow to.
Next time I find myself uninspired and feeling like I should get back to my creative project maybe the better dialogue to have with myself might be why has my attention shifted away from it to begin with, what’s calling for me, where do I need to most show up in my life right now- and let that answer be my guide (if you are interested in this topic I explore this more in the Creative Endurance course. )
As you take stock in your own life, in your own relationship to creativity right now in this moment where is your attention? Can you offer yourself some reprieve and compassion for attending to something else that is important, is it time to intentionally shift your attention back into a creative project? And all the while can we be kind and caring to ourselves as we shift our attention between the many important things that call to us?
· Take a moment right now and ask the wise sage part of you what most needs your attention right now? Wait for an answer.
· Now think about where you have been focusing your attention most today or over the last few days.
· Does this feel aligned with what is most needed right now?
· How can your attention and the energy that it brings serve you or others most right now.
Let’s forget all the other demands and be with what most needs us right now and celebrate that, rather than thinking we should do it all…
The countdown continues tomorrow with lesson #2 that focuses on the magic of stories.
Thank you truly for being here with me and celebrating our creative process together…
Only 3 days left to Purchase Creating Stillness and receive the 3-part video course Creative Endurance for free!
Grab it here