Tag Archives: health

The Creative Void

sussex churchWhen she said those words, I actually felt the psychological shrug inside.

Oh yeah, I know this part, this is where we talk about the bit in between creative projects, the creative drought, the bit where I am waiting for the next idea to grab me. 

(And yes, I definitely am in that place.)

But that was not what she was talking about.

She was talking about the Creative Void.  The place where new things begin.  The space that is needed for seeds to root and grow.

She was talking about the fact that, in giving myself this year of EASE, this space to get myself well and let go of my OUGHTs and SHOULDs, I have created a void.

My job is to sit here and hold this space.

My job is to allow the Universe to fill it.

Ooo, I’m not very good at that.  I’m no good at the whole sitting thing.  The whole ‘Let go and let God’ stuff.  I don’t think, as human beings, we are.  We are scared so we need to control the world, our lives, the shapes on the page.

However, we are human BEINGS, not human DOINGS, as the old cliche goes.  The clue is in the second word.

I’ve learnt over the years how to be in the space between creative projects.  I know how to do the Creative Void in the creative, work, sense.

Now I need to learn how to do it in the emotional, physical sense.

Two sorts of creativity.  Who knew?  (Or are they really?)

If you are in the Creative Void, or the Space Between, or anything that resembles it, you might find this post from Jennifer Louden comforting.  I did.

Happy creating,

EF

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We NEED to Look After Ourselves

I was going to write some informative writery stuff this morning, but actually, after the week I have had, I feel like there is a pressing need to say something crucial:

We Need to Look After Ourselves

A dear friend of mine wrote in her blog yesterday about how she forgets to take preventative meds for her migraine when she doesn’t sleep well, and the result is, well, a migraine.  She rants in her post at herself because this miserable agony of a head storm is totally preventable.  And I really sympathise.

Because I am lying in bed right now, typing upside down on my laptop because my back is wrecked and my stomach is a painful disaster.  Both entirely preventable conditions.

1) I haven’t done any really consistent yoga since I had flu last Christmas.  I was so ill, and it took me so long to recover, that exercise didn’t seem possible.  Besides, writing has been my priority, so everything else took a back seat.  As a result, I have lost the muscle mass, flexibility and strength inside my torso that is really needed to hold me up and make my limbs work effectively.

2) My posture is just appalling, and it isn’t helped by hunching over in an inadequate office chair at my desk, or slouching on the sofa for hours on end, typing.

3)  I carry the majority of my stress in my spine, which means neck and shoulder pain unless I take time to release the tension by relaxing or stretching.

4) Its so easy to eat rubbish.  I have a delicate gut that is sensitive to all kinds of crud they put in food these days, and I have to be so careful.  But being careful is pretty much a full-time job, and I would rather be writing.  And I can’t be bothered much, either.  I mean, that chocolate ring donut?  Why not? Just one wouldn’t hurt, would it?  So I’m not careful, and then I develop terrible stomach pains, and then I can’t write. (Are you starting to see the pattern here?)

5)  Stress and anxiety play a big part in my ill health, and I know I am better when I meditate.  But I don’t.  Because it takes time, time when my brain isn’t in its dream world, playing with gorgeous men and exciting stories, and generally having more fun than in real life.  I don’t want to expend the energy on being away from my fantasies.  But when i don’t tackle my tension, I end up with debilitating headaches, back pain, anxiety attacks, insomnia and stomach flair-ups.

None of this is rocket science, as they say.  I know what does me good, but I compulsively and consistently fail to do it.  And judging by my friend’s blog post, and comments from others, I am not the only one.

Lying on my back on the bed this week, working my way through various ‘back care’ books gleaned from the library for research, it became clear to me that this back care thing is a lifelong commitment.  It requires me to be present at every moment in my body, to think about the way I stand, move, sit, lift, twist and bend.  It means getting up from my desk every 20 minutes to move around and release muscles.  It requires learning how to sit and stand correctly.

And my guts?  Well, me and my innards have been fighting a war of attrition for four decades, but I think I can say without doubt that these days, my innards are winning.  They need to get what they ask for, because if they don’t, they stop me doing what I want to do.  So I need to commit to making and eating clean, healthy, nondairy, gluten-free food AT ALL TIMES, not just when its convenient.

I know this.

What I didn’t realise is that these commitments are actually part of my commitment to being a writer.  It is as much my job to look after my body and keep it healthy and functioning as it is to back up my computer or buy ink cartridges for my fountain pen.  All that stuff about writers drinking themselves into cirrhosis and death to write great novels is frankly, and not to put too fine a point on it, bollocks.  I’ve been in pain for the last fortnight, and believe me, it isn’t fun and its not a life plan I want to pursue!

The body is not just transport, as dear Sherlock likes to point out.  It is the foundation stone of our beings, and foundations have to be strong and sure to support the growth,power and creativity of which we are all capable.

So here is my commitment:  I am writer.  That means writing.  And it means creating an environment in which writing can happen, both within my home and within my body.  It means my writing MUST be embodied.

I am making self-care part of my job.

(Because if I don’t, the rest of the job can’t happen.)

Happy Healthy Creating,

EF

Journal Friday: Outflow – Making Lemonade

LemonsPart of being a writer is the dance of self-acceptance.

I have to deal with a chronic illness, which has radically altered my life for the last fifteen years, and shows no sign of waning.  This means I have to manage the delicate balance between self-care and doing too much.  When I overdo it, I end up exacerbating my symptoms and have to face extended periods of bed rest and being confined to the house.  Anf brain fog.

So sometimes I can’t write.  And its not that I don’t want to, its just that I literally can’t.

As I have said before, however, that doesn’t mean I’m not writing.  In my head, at least.

Sometimes life deals us lemons, and the lemonade is hard to make.  But even when I feel like I am buried under tonnes of lemons, the dream is still there.  The memory of how fantastic it feels when I am able to write, when the flow is happening and I am submerged in a scene.

This is where my diary comes in.  At times when I can process language, when I can hold my pen, I write in my journal.  It may only be a few lines, a sentence or two, but it is self-expression, getting the feelings out onto the page, and it feels fantastic.

At times when things are tough, my journal is my life raft.

At the moment, as I struggle with another period of sickness, I am working with this book.  When I have finished squeezing every drop of goodness from it, I will tell you how I got on, a little review of sorts.  In the meantime, I offer you this quote, from the marvellous SARK, patron saint of creative women, quoted by the author, Jackee Holder:

“I love journal keeping because it has helped me to discover and uncover myself, to encourage my own bravery, sort out difficulties with other people, to invent new ways of being.”

SARK, Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper, 2008.

Happy Journalling,

EF