Tag Archives: the creative life

The Friday Review No. 3: Processing


It’s the last day of March, and I’m home after a fortnight of running around like a headless chicken, attending to family duties.  Its been one long, continuous To Do list.

Honestly, I’m knackered.  Even if I didn’t have ME/CFS, I’d be wrecked.

The problem is that there has been so much mental processing, so many emotions, that my mind feels full of fog.  I can’t think straight.  In fact, I can’t think at all.  I feel like I need to be still, wrapped in silence, on my own for at least a week, to get my head around what just happened.

Sometimes, life takes over, and then drops you like a stone, and it takes a while to get back into the groove of who you are and where you want to go.  I have come home to my life of writing and blogging and drawing and being me, and I feel like I have lost the connection with that life.  I feel like an alien to myself.  But all I need is time.

Often in the creative life, we try to force things.  Something monumental happens, the illness or death of a loved one, a new baby, our own ill health, moving house or job, anything that makes for a big upheaval.  And we try to pretend it hasn’t happened, that we can just carry on.

Sometimes, we can.  Sometimes keeping writing or drawing or making music is the thing that anchors us through the storm.

There are also times when we need to sit down and just be.  Times when it is important to assimilate what has just happened.  Times to lay down the pen or the plectrum and give ourselves time.  Time to let this new reality sink in.  And caring for your creativity, and yourself, depends on the skill of knowing which to do.  Today, my gut is telling me to rest and process.  And I am listening.

So I’m giving myself time, and not forcing it.

I had my session with my writing coach, Heidi Williamson, yesterday, and it was great.  So much to think about.  I’ve kept up my writing practice sessions, twice a week, just as I promised myself, and Heidi, and you, dear reader, throughout my travels, which I’m very proud of.  And that felt good.  And I’ve been reading – I finished ‘The Name of the Rose’ while I was away, and thought a bit about that.  So progress has been made.  Nevertheless, I know I need to wait till my brain comes back to normal service before I launch into more writing.

I have learnt one important thing this fortnight, though.  It is one I always have to keep re-learning.  (Duh.)  And it is this:

I need to write in my journal.  Every day.  Otherwise I don’t know who I am.

I sat down with my journal last night for the first time in two weeks, and wrote, and somewhere amongst the pages and the scribbled blue shapes of the letters, I found myself again.  Over and over, I neglect to write through difficult times, and then when I come back to it, I realise how much it would have helped me to cope, if only I’d made a priority of it, if only I’d made time.  That can be hard to do when you are at the beck and call of another, especially if its a family member who is sick and needs you, and as a result does not recognise any boundaries and expects you to be on call 24 hours a day.  Its very hard, especially if you are a woman, to set aside half an hour come what may, to be alone with your diary every day.  But if that is the only way to keep your sanity, then it must be done.

And that has been this week’s important lesson for me, I think.  That journaling is the key to my creative practice.  And my sanity.  And probably my identity too.  And it must be sacrosanct.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, must get in the way of my journaling time.  And that includes me!

With that, dear readers, I will leave you, and go and have a soak in the bath with my paralysed, fog-filled brain, and hope it comes back to life soon.

In the meantime, happy creating,




Creativity Tip of the Day – Positive People

Supportive Friends

Supportive Friends

One of the best ways to enhance my creativity that I have found over the years is to surround myself with positive people who support my work.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

When it comes to actually doing it, though, we often struggle.  Sometimes it is hard to let go of friendships with people who are unsupportive of our creative dreams.  So often, I have heard people say to me:

‘Oh, its so hard to get published, and there are so many people out there trying to do it.  Why bother?’

‘There’s no money in the arts.  You have to get a proper job.’

‘You need to get serious and grow up.’

‘Are you still writing your little stories?’ (This one is the most patronising I’ve had!)

None of these remarks have anything to do with your creativity, or mine.  They are all excuses from people who are afraid to take the plunge and do something creative for its own sake.

Truly supportive friends are enthusiastic.  They want to hear about your work.  They offer helpful and supportive comments.  They will offer to read your writing in a loving and constructive manner (rather than just telling you how they would have done it).  They will take your efforts seriously, and understand that you are doing what you love because you love doing it.  They will never point out how there is no money in it (not true) because they know thats not why you do it.  They will joyfully share your dreams.

Keeping positive is difficult enough in these dangerous and depleting times.  Keeping positive in the midst of a gruelling creative project is even harder.

Yes, we need to be part of a creative community of fellow practitioners of our chosen arts.

We also need to surround ourselves with friends who are willing to cheer us on.  They don’t necessarily have to be people who pursue the same creative arts as we do.  Their creativity may lie in the sciences, applied crafts or in the natural world, or in any other area.

What supportive friends do is share our enthusiasm.

Take the time to cultivate the people in your life who make you feel good about your creativity and yourself.  Find friends who are willing to get out there and cheer you on.  Cheer them on in your turn.  You will find so much creative energy in this simple lifestyle change, and I guarantee that it will enhance your world and your creative practise.

Happy Creating,