Community//

Valuing the Gap Between Creative Actions

It is much easier to catch an idea by sitting quietly than by trying to chase it. It is easier to come up with the idea for your next novel by walking around the lake than by banging your head against a wall. It is sometimes more productive to not produce anything new but instead […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

It is much easier to catch an idea by sitting quietly than by trying to chase it. It is easier to come up with the idea for your next novel by walking around the lake than by banging your head against a wall. It is sometimes more productive to not produce anything new but instead to patiently catch up with yourself in silent reverie.

Producing is not the only face of progress. Especially if we are tired of what we are producing or if we are producing things mechanically, it may prove supremely useful to put our brushes down and allow for some space and silence. This is the theme of creativity coach Elise V. Allan’s post.

Elise explained: 

Many of us conflate our creativity with our productivity, maybe even over-compensating for the popular view of artists as lazy and feckless by holding a relentless work ethic.

With the exception of time spent on justifiably important activities, like looking after family or earning a salary, the spaces in between creating, or doing tangible research, are often considered time wasted.  Time spent incubating ideas, or observing and reflecting – crucial aspects of creativity – often seems to provoke guilt and anxiety about procrastination.

Work is considered to be going well when incubation is pursued pro-actively; perhaps when the act of doodling, or writing in a stream of consciousness, kick-starts us into the next phase of making. When this doesn’t happen, we hope that going for a walk or a short pause to drink tea will provide sufficient space for new material or solutions to percolate up from the unconscious.

But often we are so outcome-focused that we miss the deep understanding of the subtle outcomes of stillness. There’s a case for giving value to the spaces of not-doing. Deep immersion in these spaces, rather than distraction from them, can provide or help us to build the foundations for the next period of creativity.

And when our practice has ground to a depressing halt, and something in us appears to have died, we might need to extend that immersion to discover what exactly it is that has died or become dormant within us, and to take time to grieve and recover, rather than continuing to go through the motions of half-heartedly producing work without commitment, a sense of aliveness, exploration or curiosity.

Outdated habits might still have momentum. In what direction – or in what loops – are our thoughts habitually taking us? To what negative patterns are our feelings magnetised? If we have reached a dead end rather than moving in a direction that gives our life a sense of purpose and joy, we may need to retrace our steps.

We might have been motivated by a feeling that’s run its course, an obsession that has now proved itself irrelevant, or an idea that has turned out to be flawed. We might be recovering from a loss of innocence, a personal trauma that has changed our perspective, or a loss of meaning. Or we might be physically depleted.

Devoting time to a daily ‘un-activity’ of doing nothing can be restorative, enabling us to realign ourselves. Doing nothing might be meditation or simply watching the wind in the trees. Sleep can be transformative, muting any impatience and agitating distractions that have been keeping us on our old momentum. It might take longer to move beyond sorrow or frustration than we’d like, but eventually, in quietness, we are able to discern subtle pulls to new creative possibilities, and understand how we want to adjust our course.

**

You can contact Elise V Allan at www.elisevallan-creativitycoaching.co.uk  and see her paintings at www.elisevallan.com

You can visit Eric Maisel at www.ericmaisel.com

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    Wendy Yates of Abigail-Elise Design Studio: “Looking back this may be seen as funny, but probably not”

    by Candice Georgiadis
    Courtesy of Jolygon / Shutterstock
    Wisdom//

    For a Genius Brain, Focus on How to Think, Instead of What to Think

    by Thomas Oppong
    Photo by James Pond on Unsplash
    Community//

    Are Your Deadlines Killing Your Creative Spirit

    by Aggee Kimpiab
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.