I stopped. I hadn’t planned on stopping. I didn’t hum and haw over it, I didn’t make space or have a strategy around taking a creative hiatus. I just stopped. I stopped writing. I stopped filming and publishing and posting. I stopped planning. Every project or bit of content that bubbled up in me, died off before I could see it through. More than that, the future of what I was going to create started to die off, leaving this mysterious void.
Straight up, my friend, it was confusing and incredibly anxiety provoking. I’m easily seduced by my plans, by my bright and full future. Paring down the ideas are usually the challenge, not waving them away as wisps of insignificant mental ramblings.
The creative rhythms I’ve come to trust go something like this: Idea rains down. Maybe it’s a title or a concept or an observation or practice. It presents itself as something that must come into form, that either wants expression or wants to serve a purpose. It chooses me to carry it out. Most commonly they either come while unpacking the nuance of someone’s unique suffering and I recognize a cultural trend that needs light, or, while moving in nature it comes in verse.
Once an idea comes, execution of that idea is typically clear to me. Through many years of practice, I barely notice the what-if-this-doesn’t-work-and-maybe-this-is-crap voice, (unless I’m in a painful growth transition.) I’ll often get started on it to work out more granularity and get a feel for how much energy I’ve got for it and where it fits with any larger themes or pieces of work that are priorities. For short bits of content, this process breezes through quickly. For longer term work, there’s a bit more stacking and thrashing.
Suddenly, none of this had any juice for me anymore. I couldn’t pull the trigger on anything. Blog posts got little more attention than a title captured in drafts, complete and ready-to-go ‘Dear Chela’s’ sat looming waiting to be published, full scale projects for community building programs got drafted in full planning days with my team and then tossed without a squeak. I didn’t feel like it. I wanted something else. At times it felt petulant, even rebellious. But something else was coming for me.
Now, it’s terrible advice for any creative to suggest that you need to have the right energy or conditions in order to do your work. But since I’ve had no trouble producing, this sudden flatness was something worth getting curious about. It’s not uncommon for me to dig deep or push through to step up. Challenge, will, trust – they’re all daily ingredients in an entrepreneurial life. But this wasn’t that.
I could throw around some valid surface reasons for this sense of disenchantment, like that the exhaustion of a recent move alongside the moronic decision to refinish the hardwood floors ourselves left me out of creative juice. Or the need to take a break after launch after launch after launch. Or that I’m booked to the brim with billable work and that’s enough outward bound energy thank-you-very-much. Y’know, burnout. And those are true. But this wasn’t just that.
This was like grey smoke in my throat. Palms in the face of all ideation. The threads of my energy wove together with the threat of depression that rolls in when an identity is being dismantled, when worldviews are disintegrating. What wants to be born will reveal itself only after you die to how things are. [icon name=”twitter” class=””]
So that’s what I’ve been doing while I’ve not been doing what I usually do here. I’ve been allowing how things are to die. And I’ve been doing it while serving an incredible set of clients, teaching for ICC, and falling in love with my new home in the spring, surrounded by the most loving and supportive community. People who will listen to me, explore with me, feed me, love me and tolerate my thrashy nature as I navigate a transition that was not forced upon me, but that crept in in whispers and then took me out.
Welcome (almost) back! Thanks for being so open and honest about this, so allowing us to be so too.
It was divine timing to read your story since I’ve been going through something so similar. The creativity was pouring out of me, I was working at a strong, steady pace, I was bringing ideas of growth my business — and then it just stopped. I felt like I was pulled out of my life and put on another planet to recreate everything from scratch.
Until today. Today – there was a shift and the familiar creative energy shined a light. I can now see the light. That was a weird pause … but it interesting to stand in the middle of it and wonder … hmmmm… what is going to happen?