Sunday, June 22, 2008

Recover and Recharge

Today I read an article online about creativity fatigue. This is from Alexia Petrakos's post, "How to Recover and Recharge from Creative Burnout" on Collective Creatives - a cooperative artisan blog:

"Creativity comes in cycles. One month you’re churning out piece after piece, everything you put your hand to comes out fabulous. It seems like it’ll go on forever. You are the Productivity Queen! Next month you crash and burn. You can’t even bear to look at your studio, let alone make something. This is when you need to recognize the signs your body is sending. After a time of great creative work, your brain, spirit and body need a break. You’ve spent your creative energies and your well is dry. It’s time to recharge."

I think that I could paraphrase that second to last sentence to "after a lengthy period of sustained and concentrated creative work, your brain, emotions and body need a break." Now it applies to me. Some of the things she suggests are write in a journal, take a vacation, read a book, take a walk and sleep -- as in take more naps. She left out sit and stare out the window.

I have never experienced myself like this, being so without motivation. There are tons of things I should be doing... I should be catching up on all the cleaning that has been put off while I took care of the dog, nursed my trigger finger and wrote Enclave. (Instead, I'm just doing the bare minimum and one or two extra tasks a week). I should be answering my emails, but for some reason, can't seem to make myself do it. No words. I should be writing a newsletter but, again... can't seem to make myself do it. I should be cleaning out my files, backing them up, and reworking my website. I should be tackling all the house projects that have been put on hold while I was writing Enclave. But I can't seem to make myself do any of it.

Of course, I have been taking my mother round to her tests and doctor's appointments -- we have two more scheduled for the upcoming week, which isn't exactly a vacation, but sort of. It does seem to consume much of my energy for the day. And the heat doesn't help, either, since that always sucks the life out of you.

And we've been walking Quigley -- he and I went together around the park Saturday night and it was exquisite. After day of 107 degree temps, a sort of thunderstorm developed over the mountains and then dumped rain which sent a semi-sustained wind through the city. The temps dropped to the mid eighties during our walk (plus I love the wind) and it was downright comfortable. Quigley was as good on the walk as Bear ever was. It was wonderful.

My son returned from San Diego this weekend and we celebrated Father's Day on Saturday morning with breakfast at our favorite breakfast place, Millie's Pancake Haus. Those were all wonderful, fun things, but they take up time. And energy.

But beyond those things and the day to day requirements, I've mostly continued to spend my time making cards, playing with my stamps, ordering new ones and just sitting. I enjoy doing mindless things, like cutting out stamped images with small scissors. It's easy, and you make measurable progress. Plus I love looking at the shapes and colors and putting them together into pleasing designs.

It dawned on me today that I'm still tired. And that I'm tired in a way I've not been before -- not just physically but mentally and emotionally and ... willfully (?) That is, my capacity to make myself do things seems to be very weak. A friend in college told me today that she feels this way after a semester ends and it doesn't go away in a week (which I was expecting). More like a month.

I doubt I have a month, but I think I'm going to give myself grace here. It's been a difficult, confusing, chaotic year. I can continue to go gently and while I might not be napping, the sitting and staring, or playing with the cards, is a form of resting. A weird one, for me, but resting, nevertheless.