My creative process packed a rucksack and went whistling away down December’s open road.
It hasn’t yet come wandering back. And now I’m on a mission to find it.
This is easier said than done. With three small girls at home with me during the day, the needs are endless. Someone is hungry. There are booster trays to wash, and sink traps clogged with tiny trees of broccoli. There are miniature fights to break up. Frowns to tickle out. Books to be read.
Every day, creative ideas form and cluster like soap bubbles. And then I look at the clock. And my to-do list. And back to the clock.
Someone <skips a nap><cuts a molar><scribbles on the computer screen with permanent marker>. The soap bubble idea pops.
Everything falls in a swirl down the drain.
One of the authors I studied in grad school was a psychologist named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, ($5 if you can pronounce that) who says, “Creative persons differ from one another in a variety of ways, but in one respect they are unanimous: They all love what they do.”
I fell into a slump after Christmas. The house felt claustrophobic and close – newly gifted items didn’t fit into my already less-than-perfect organization scheme. Suitcases from coming and going needed to be unpacked. Everything needed attention.
Finally, I gave in and spent two weeks using my free time (a precious commodity) doing things I didn’t necessarily love. I organized. I laundered. I folded. I scrubbed. I purged. I went to bed strangely stressed, and woke up tired even after eight hours of solid sleep.
I had no idea something was wrong until the night I put the girls to bed, kissed my husband, and went to worship team practice at my church. For the next hour and half, I banged out chords on that big black grand piano. I sang. Slowly, I fell out myself and into Grace.
Leaving the building that night, I felt lighter. It occurred to me that singing was the only thing I’d done in two weeks that was for sheer enjoyment.
Not because I had to. Not because I needed to. Because I wanted to.
Just then, I saw my creative process waving in the distance.
Deep breath. Right.
The last couple of weeks have been a study in balance, and slowly but surely, I can see my creativity levels start to build.
I’m baking bread. I’m making up stories for the girls. I’m going to the gym with a regularity that surprises even me. Today I’m sitting down at the computer, wading through the rhythm of putting words the page.
They aren’t perfect. They don’t have to be. I’m happily lost in my craft, and that’s the point. When I’m doing the things I love, I’m a better, kinder, more expansive version of myself.
Friend, if you’ve somehow found yourself in a similar creative slump, please take a deep breath. Ignore the overflowing laundry basket, put in a pizza, and schedule a block of time to get out and do something you love.
Let it overtake you. Change you. Give you new ideas. Your creativity is the truest expression of who you are. Don’t let it get away.