Keeping a hot creative streak alive is hard enough when the corners of your life are mom-could-even-visit tidy.
So how are you supposed to keep generating smart, fresh work when life is laced with personal loss, financial struggle, or heartbreak? You know time will eventually change your situation and feelings—but your creative deadline is two days from now and you’re not sure you’ll even make it past lunch.
As creatives it’s vital for us to be connected to our positive and negative emotional experiences—it’s an important source for much of our creative inspiration. But when emotions are a crushing tsunami, how can you survive and begin to allow for an even flow of creative thinking?
According to Julia Cameron, author of the classic guide to creative recovery “The Artist’s Way”, survival lies in sanity, and sanity lies in paying attention:
‘The reward for attention is always healing…In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now. The precise moment I was in was always the only safe place for me. Each moment, taken alone, was always bearable…’
Often getting into the moment is something you can do at your desk over a cup of coffee and a good blank stare out the window. Maybe you have to find a spot in the sun somewhere. Wherever you are, in that moment and then the next, focus your attention on something that delights you. The pool of sunlight that rakes across your desk, the smell of fresh cut grass through your studio window, the sound of kids laughing on the playground outside your building.
Cameron believes ‘…the quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.’
I’ve just got to say, from my own experience, it’s finding delight in the moments surrounding a dark event that’s pulled me though a workday or work session with my creative partner—productively. A heightened radar for delight can even lead you to more inspiration than you’ve experience in quite a while—or even ever. Also, know that pain, once passed through, will lead to emotional knowledge you can write about, create an image of, or use to better understand a once foreign demographic you need to communicate to.
Bright new idea spots. To come.
If you’re in a place like this right now, I hope this is of some help to you.