We Always Want it to be Springtime

We often equate creativity with inspiration, flow, abundance and productivity. We thrive on those magical moments when the muse is fluidly moving through us. Words effortlessly spill onto the page or the plans for a vegetable garden click into place and the garden seems to create itself. We feel the vitality of new beginnings, the satisfaction of complete immersion in our project. We’re expanded and overflowing with possibilities. We love these ‘peak experiences’, as psychologist Abraham Maslow aptly called them. These experiences are rich and wonderful, of course.

The difficulty with this understanding of creativity is that it is only a partial picture. Like all of nature, creativity has its seasons. There is the creative spring – a time of freshness and new growth. We are inspired, open and hopeful. Then summer – we’re in the flow. The sun is bright, as we are. We’re fully engaged with our project. Autumn is a time of harvest. Our project has ripened; we see the fruits of our efforts. It is also a time of change, as leaves turn color and fall to the ground. Winter signals the end of a productive cycle. We descend into the quiet of winter introspection.

If we enlarge our understanding of the creative process to include and honor these natural cycles, we won’t be so quick to worry, give up or blame ourselves when ideas don’t come easily or we’re not as excited about a project as we were at its inception. Before I understood the cyclical nature of creativity, I tried to push the creative river to conform to my plans and timetables. But I was going against nature and those attempts often failed, leaving me disappointed or frustrated. Now when I’m stuck, I do some reflective writing to ascertain whether or not I’m blocked in some way and need to attend to that or I am simply in the fall or winter of my creative project. If I discover that it’s a matter of cycles (and, of course, don’t have a deadline that must be met) I let go of my willfulness, align myself with the appropriate season and let nature take its course.

Try This

A simple, yet powerful writing exercise to access inner wisdom is sentence completion. Next time you feel stuck with a creative project, take 15 minutes to complete the following sentence stems. Keep your hand moving and don’t censor or analyze what you write.

The season of this……………………………. project is ……………………………..  This is a time for …………………………………………………………………………….

What I need to do to align with this season is ………………………………….

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