We are having a heatwave here in the UK, and I’m not very good in hot weather. The result is that my brain has gone on strike, as has much of my body. Which makes me think about ‘creative seasons’ and the Habit of Art.
My ongoing health problems taught me long ago to have peace with the days when I can’t do anything beyond lie on the sofa and practise my groaning. ( I’m getting quite good at groaning, I have to say.) Chronic Illness is, however, a bit of an extreme way of forcing oneself to recognise one’s creative cycles, and not one I would recommend.
There are lots of creativity gurus who are adamant that turning up at the page, or the canvas, and making yourself do the work is the only way forward, and for the most part, I would agree. But what do you do on the days, like today, when it just ain’t gonna happen?
Take note, that’s what.
I find my creativity goes in bursts, as I have mentioned before, and in recent years I have noticed that my writing seagues slowly into art in the summer months. Writing is a great thing to be doing when the weather is cold and wet, and all you want to do is curl up in the warm. In the summer, though, the urge to get out there into the landscape and experience the world is almost irresistible, as anyone who has ever worked through the summer in an office will agree. Right now I am experiencing the difficult-to-ignore urge to paint rather than write.
And I am OK with that.
Yes, I am feeling a bit frustrated that I can’t settle to the writing projects I want to progress, but I can’t force it, or I will get resentful, and probably produce pages of complete drivel that I’ll hate later. The urge to be creative is still with me, though. It is just taking a different, more exterior form. I want to draw, paint, decorate pottery, make cushion covers, garden, and bake cupcakes. So that’s what I’m going to do – at least as soon as the weather cools down and my brain starts functioning again!
There is a tension between turning up to create and the creative seasons themselves, and the skill of a true creative is to be able to accept the difference between a) the resistance to sitting at the desk and working, which is procrastination and stopping oneself being all one can be, and b) the natural flow of creativity as it morphs from one season to the next. There is much to be said for making yourself sit down to create every day, but using it as a stick to beat yourself with is not helpful. We need to be aware of when our creativity transforms, and to trust it enough to go with the flow. This doesn’t mean I am abandoning my writing for good, simply that I know that right now, that isn’t where my best work will come.
The image in my head to illustrate this is when Picasso discovered the provencale village of Vallauris and threw himself into the art of ceramics. I have no doubt there were those who worried that his canvas days were over, but that was far from the truth. Instead, he trusted his creative urges enough to know that ceramics was a road he had to walk at that point in his life.
So I am trying to emulate Picasso, and to be at peace with where my creative road is taking me. It’s not easy, and Nigel has a lot to say about not having the gumption to get on with the novel, but frankly, STUFF NIGEL! Lets get out in the sun, eat ice cream, and do creativity the way we need to right now!
Happy sun-bathing and creating,