Tag Archives: Resting

Creative Recuperation

Statue by Anthony Gormley on the top of Blackwells Art and Poster shop, Broad Street, Oxford.

Statue by Anthony Gormley on the top of Blackwells Art and Poster shop, Broad Street, Oxford.

We just got back from a demanding time in Oxford, and after the difficult fortnight we have had, I find myself feeling emotionally as well as physically exhausted.  So when I found this post from Jamie Ridler this morning, I realised I had to make a concerted effort to have some healing time.

One of the hardest things to accept about our creativity is that it often comes and goes.  There are times of bounty, when the Muse is flowing and there are so many ideas coming into your head and out of your pen that you feel like you could get hysterical just trying to keep pace.

And there are the droughts.  The times when nothing new has come for months, and you feel like you may never paint or write or dance again.

One of the things that my ME/CFS has taught me, and continues to teach me, is to go with that flow.  There are times of the year when our bodies need downtime, and times when our tails are up and we are full of energy.  Any woman knows this from her menstrual cycle.

The trouble is that we live in a 24/7 culture that requires us to be ‘on’ seven days a week, twelve months a year, and our biology just hasn’t evolved sufficiently to keep up with that. (We’ve only had the lightbulb for a hundred years or so, remember?)  We simply can’t be  in action continually.  We aren’t machines.  We have to stop and rest.

Resisting that PUSHPUSHPUSH productivity mindset is a constant practise, but if you are intent on living a truly creative life, you need to take account of not only your own biorhythms, but also your creative rhythms.

It is time to be gentle with ourselves.

Because if we don’t make time to be gentle with ourselves, our bodies will remind us that we must in no uncertain terms – often with the red traffic light of major illness.

So this week, I am resolved not to make any particular demands on myself. I will be journalling, and watching some old films, eating nurturing food, and taking lots of naps.  Maybe I’ll even paint my toenails, which always cheers me up!  I am going to take it one day at a time and listen to what my body needs.  By doing that, I know my mojo will come back eventually.   I just need to give it some space.

Happy creating – or resting, whichever you need to do right now,

EF

 

Why you need to Moodle

Today, I have been moodling.

Mooching.  Pottering.  Puttering.  Loafing.  Fiddling.  Wandering.  Pootling.

It looks like I am doing nothing very important from the outside, or at least nothing creatively productive.  But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Brenda Ueland, in her superb book ‘If you want to write’ (hardly bettered since it was published in 1938), calls creative revelations ‘little bombs’.

“You may find that the little bombs quietly burst in you when you are doing other things – sewing, or carpentering, or whittling, or playing golf, or dreamily washing dishes.” (p45)

“…So you see, the imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.  Therse people who are always briskly doing something and as busy as waltzing mice, they have little, sharp, staccato ideas…but they have no slow, big ideas.  And the fewer consoling, noble, shining, free, jovial, magnanimous ideas that come, the more nervously and desperately they rush and run from office to office and up and downstairs, thinking by action at last to make life have some warmth and meaning.” (p32)

Ueland knew that we need to time to contemplate, to think and reflect, to be alone with ourselves, but also time to just let things percolate, soak in and mingle.  We may not look like we are working on our novel when we are washing up.  We may not even be thinking about it consciously.  But there it is, fizzing away behind our eyes, collecting connections, accumulating mass like a growing snowball tumbling down a mountain.

We are incubating miracles.

We need to moodle to charge our brains, to collect impressions, to drink from the well.  However, there is another reason to moodle.  What happens when the well is dry?

This comes back to self care, which I wrote about in an earlier post.  There are always going to be times of creative drought in our lives.  There will be times when life gets in the way, or when we are so busy dealing with our personal stuff that there is no energy left over to flow out into creation.

It is crucial to know that that is alright.  It happens.  It will pass.

And when these droughts occur, and to prevent them if you can, you need to moodle.  Have a nap.  Potter about.  Paint your toenails.  Fix that squeaky gate.  Go window shopping.  Give yourself a break, literally and metaphorically.  Resting will fill the well up again.

This is why I don’t really believe in writers block.  I think that either you are exhausted, or you are stopping yourself from creating out of fear.  If the latter is the case, you need to explore those fears, and work on them in your journal.  If the former, you need to let go of guilt, accept the creative season you are in, and lie around wiggling your toes until your brain is sufficiently rested, and finally ready to come up with a new ‘Aha!’ moment.

I urge you to read Ueland’s peerless book, whether you are a writer or not.  It is full of incredibly sensible advice for anyone who means to create.

I also urge you to take some moodling time this week.  Book it in your diary.  Tell the family to leave you alone in the bath tonight.  Go and lie in the park in the sun.  Not every expedition has to be an Artist Date.  Sometimes, its good just to refill the well.

Happy Moodling,

EF