I am away from where I write for a couple of weeks visiting my 92 year old mother. She needs me at the moment, and I need to get away and return to being a daughter. Mum and I have talked of many things including our health, the clothes we used to sew, things that bug us and much more. I’ve accompanied Mum on Doctors visits, blood tests and been there for her while she has been unwell.
It has been a timeout for me. I have had the time to recall who I was as a child, who I am now as a wife, mother, and daughter, plus consider aspects of myself that need attention.
This weeks blog is again by Mary Carroll Moore who appears to be going through the same thing. Mary writes about the need to rest as an artist to feed the inner artist – or person
Perhaps you are also in a place where you would benefit by doing the same. Resting your mind, body and soul may be the best thing for you as it has been for me.
Let’s read what Mary Carroll Moore has to say.
We packed up our camper van and headed to the beach for four days. The puppies are very happy in the camper; it’s a contained space, so monitoring their housetraining is easier.
The first two days, I had planned to write. I was enjoying–so much–editing the final chapters of my new novel from my agent’s suggestions. But, to my dismay, I could barely open my ipad or laptop. Instead, I found myself sitting in the sunshine, watching the dogs play.
I lay in our travel hammock and stared at pine trees, wondering where I was.
More important, who I was. Clearly not the writer I’d planned to be during this trip–far from it.
There are some important signs of burn-out that writers need to attend to. An overactive Inner Critic. A feeling of the blues about one’s work. A sense of deep depletion, despite enough sleep and exercise.
Summer rolled around with all of these symptoms, for me. I’d just finished up a marathon of editing, teaching at two different writing schools, and all the normal craziness that goes with two new puppies welcomed into my life. All these experiences were amazing, wonderful, and inspiring, and I wouldn’t have traded them for anything.
But my ability to give out was used up. I noticed it in my writing–with the signs mentioned above.
A writing buddy recently went through this. Her two small children got sick at the same time as an upsurge in work and another manuscript due to her agent. We texted about it–the distress of being over-the-top stressed and unable to create. I was bitterly disappointed not to be able to write on our camper trip. I forced myself to open my ipad the third morning, then closed it soon after because I realized I was ruining good stuff with lousy changes.
I eat healthily, I exercise regularly, I sleep reasonable hours, and I have good family and friends support. I’m living a good life. But in the realm of manifestation and creativity, which is what my work is all about, I had been stretched to the max these past months. My well of creative energy was drained.
I didn’t know how to get back to the “necessary boredom” that Dorothy Allison talks about, the place where the well would fill again.
So I let myself do nothing.
About the fourth morning, something shifted. I felt better, almost good. I still moaned inwardly about not getting my writing done as planned. But the renewal had to come first.
Many of us keep running anyway, fueled by adrenaline, and the joy of life gets dimmer and dimmer. We lose track of where we are, who we are. We get swept up with other people’s lives (and creative needs–if you’re a teacher).
It’s all good, it’s all important. I love my work. But there’s a moment to say, “Stop!” Let yourself go back to yourself.
When I got back from our little trip, I contacted clients and asked for time. Most were glad–they needed it too. I allowed myself to ignore both calendar and lists for three weeks, as much as I could. I began to putter, to play.
The first day I cooked. I love to cook, and the garden was prolific, so it was easy to get inspired. It had nothing to do with writing. But another good writing friend had advised it. I took lots of walks and went to bed with the puppies by 9. I wrote (by hand!) letters to family and friends. I read. I cleaned clutter. I ate lunch outside and took my time.
You get the idea.
I’d read that it’s helpful to deliberately not try to work on anything creative, such as writing, during this renewal time. Don’t manifest anything. That was hard. I hadn’t had enough time to work on those edits for my novel, so taking an additional three weeks seemed beyond foolish. But each time I tried to break my rule, taking out the ipad or laptop, I froze up. The writing all seemed terrible–a sure sign of the Inner Critic’s negative notions surfacing–and I couldn’t bring myself to do anything.
Funny thing. As I began to fill up again, new ideas started coming. I would be watching a movie or marveling at amazing prose in another writer’s book, and I would find myself thinking very lightly about my own editing dilemmas. Images would come while I was walking in the morning, solutions to problems that stymied me. A place to get information I needed.
Trying to honor my renewal time, I didn’t pursue these, just took notes.
I let the creative tension build for another week. It became fun. I looked forward to my empty days, I no long dreaded the thought of moving so slowly.
Then, one morning, I woke up and knew it was time. I opened my ipad and read the last changes I’d made before my renewal vacation. They were good, very satisfying. I was ready to dive in again.
This week, take stock. Do you need to feed the artist? Is she or he starving from too much output and not enough input these past busy months?
If the answer is yes, can you carve out time for a rest break or even a renewal?
Glennis again- If so, do it without guilt. Let me know how you feel after doing so,Until next week, Glennis Annie Browne