Creativity Might Be Seasonal
Someone asked me what my next project was and I panicked. “I don’t know! I don’t have anything lined up! My well has run dry! The last thing I wrote is probably my last thing ever! It’s all over.”
But then I realized that last year, at almost exactly this time, I had a similar panic. I wrote a piece about it that has been one of my most popular podcast episodes and of course the well hadn’t run dry. I subsequently produced a whole season of an audio drama and wrote its second season as well.
It would appear that January tends to be a fallow time for me. It would appear that there are, perhaps, predictable seasons of creativity for me — and maybe all of us. I’ve long been aware of how wanderlust strikes me in September. I’ve noticed that I often end up producing plays in the late spring (always always when whatever fruit I’ve written into the play as a key plot point is decidedly NOT in season).
I guess to everything there IS a season and creativity is no exception. I would have thought I was pretty well aware of my own patterns as so much of my life has been arranged to suit them — but I hadn’t really factored in the year’s rhythms, wasn’t even aware of them, really. It takes this many decades to realize it, I guess. Like, you need three decades of creative data to really see the pattern. And it is a pattern. It’s clear. And helpful.
Writing through a fallow period is not easy. Every word feels labored, every idea feels stupid. When conditions somehow prevent me from writing the play I’m working on, I think, “Oh, that’s fine. It’s a terrible idea anyway. I’m just spilling ink on that thing.” But of course I’ve thought that sort of thing while working on things that ended up being someone’s favorite.
It also feels important to note that it’s not that I’m not writing at all in this fallow period. It’s actually a very fertile time for the blog. It’s just the creative work that feels dormant at the moment. I don’t think of blog writing as creative work but of course it is. Of course. It’s just a different lane.
Cluing in to this pattern might be helpful next January. Maybe before I panic, I just prepare for the fallow period and just know that I’m going to feel panicked and useless for a bit but that it will fade.
I’ll write through it the way I write through everything — but knowing what’s happening really does make a difference. I don’t need to fall into a full on creative panic. I can just recognize that this is the part of the growing season when the ground is cold and hard and nothing really will grow. I won’t discount the possibility that some little green sprout might shoot up out of a pot somewhere — maybe in a greenhouse or something — but acknowledging that the fields are fallow in this period might help me get through the dark winter months.
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Originally published at http://artiststruggle.wordpress.com on January 22, 2021.