I usually link all my art to nature. I do landscape & travel photography, both my books have strong ties to mother nature, and it’s where I go to get most my ideas or clear my head. Its my muse and sanctuary. But, since becoming pregnant and developing symphysis pubis dysfunction (terrible name, I know), which is just lots of pain in the hips, back and legs, I haven’t been able to do much hiking. Or walking.
It began to feel like I was having a creative block, no great ideas coming in, and not much going out. The loss of having adventures hiking to the mountain top, around desolate lakes, in dark, ethereal pine woods, made my mind become dull. Pregnancy can be tough enough without your work, your passion, weighing down on you as well. Until I began reading Twyla Tharps The Creative Habit. She labels these times where your “creativity fails you” as ruts, “when you ‘re spinning your wheels and staying in place”, because that is literally what it felt like to me, both mentally and physically!
Before, I was driving my sports car, laughing madly, creating art as I cruised along. I was driving like Cruella and…. I hit the ditch. Now I’m stuck, because old rear wheeled sports cars don’t come out of deep, slick mud easily.
I was so stuck.
I may have also begun to feel a little sorry for myself, considering nature was the setting and an important theme in my books, AND in my LANDSCAPE photography LOL! UGGG! I was just so creatively depressed. I am sure many can relate with that sense of staring at the black page/canvas/etc.
I knew I had to switch gears. Twyla Tharp’s book made me see a little clearer. She writes,
“A rut can be the end product of bad timing. For some reason you are out of sync with the world. You can have the brightest vision with the most mind-blowing idea, but if the world isn’t ready for it you can spin your wheels for years”.
It was like a an epiphany, I was trying to finish my fantasy book (soooo close to being done!!) and prepping a second book that I planned to use for NaNoWriMo, both of which were closely tied to nature, but I couldn’t go and gather more ideas, more feelings, more information without the stark reminder that I was house bound. These books were just not a reflection of me in this time period.
Another section in The Creative Habit is about having an organizational system for your projects. At the beginning of every endeavor, she opens a box.
“I start every dance with a box. I write the project name on the box, and as the piece progresses I fill it up with every item that went into the making of the dance. This means notebooks, news clippings, CD’s videotapes of me working alone in my studio, videos of the dancer rehearsing, books and photographs and pieces of art that may have inspired me.”
What a fantastic idea. So I copied it. I put works in progress for my photography in folders, labeled clearly, saved for another day on my hard drive. I bought simple folders and moved my two books into them and filed them on my shelf. I know where they are, they aren’t just hidden away, lost causes from another life, but just put on hold. Still visible and within easy reach should I want them. Then I moved on.
And a funny thing happened. I started seeing beauty in simple objects. I wandered around my garden. I used different filters and styles to create photographs. And, slowly, I began creating OTHER things.
I’m finding ideas in the city now, instead of just nature. I take myself out for lunch more often and people watch. On weekends I go sit at my favorite coffee shop and daydream, write, and, again, people watch. I even take my writing with me when I go to the Doctors,
which, wow, can you EVER eavesdrop. Nurses gossiping, people running into friends (or frenemies), drug rep’s sales pitches, couples whisper fighting. Its brilliant. I NEVER would do things like that before, and I feel like It has opened up a whole new world of dialogue, insight, ideas and understanding for my art. I even go for car rides with my husband when he’s got running around to do, just to sit and listen to music, enjoy the drive, relax, LOL! (And, yes, the dog comes too, because us cooped-up free spirits need outings when we can take ’em!)
I even have a new book idea for NaNoWriMo, an urban fantasy/murder mystery ghost story. Its still developing, so I’m sure I won’t make the 50,000 words for November, but, really, its all about the spirit of forcing yourself to write daily. To rally yourself for a creative endeavor, where at the end you can congratulate yourself for at least trying, having fun, joining a community and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
If you love reading as much as I do, OR are also in a Rut, go get The Creative Habit, and check out my blog post, A Curated List of Non-Fiction Books For Creatives.
Thanks for stopping by!
~The Art of Life Wild & Free~