Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Creativity is Like Breathing

 "Creativity is like breathing.

When you make stuff, you're exhaling.
But you can't exhale forever. Eventually, you have to breathe in.  Or you'll be dead.
This is why I try to read a lot of books.  This is why I try to spend a lot of time outdoors.  
This is why I pivot from project to project.  
All of these things I consider breathing, and they make me better at what I do.  They make me love my job.
This is sometimes why I disappear for weeks or even months at a time.  When I do this, I am not abandoning my work or being lazy.
I'm just trying to breathe."

- The Oatmeal

I came across this comic from The Oatmeal yesterday, and it fit, as I'm sure it does for a multitude of  creatives.  It seems appropriate to include it here.

Some describe lulls in creativity as a creative block, or losing your creative mojo.  But what, instead, if it's simply taking your breath? We don't all breathe at the same rate... and we certainly don't create at the same rate or in the same ways.  Some of us dive into the methods of rekindling creativity while others of us roll our eyes at the thought, more content to let it come back to us naturally, unforced, if/when it's ready.

I've been in both camps before.

Last year, my overall creativity was in a low place.  I could blame the pandemic, but I honestly don't think it was that.  I think it was the need to take a good, long breath.  I still photographed for work, when it made itself available.  I had stopped writing - really writing -  a few years before that.  And taking dance classes was just not a thing a person could do without a lot of planning and forethought (or a lot of virtual sessions).  I didn't try to find the creativity I'd lost.  I was in the 'content to wait' camp.

Instead, I dealt with other things.  Spending time with my parents.  Enjoying more time outside walking and hiking - often alone and sometimes with friends.  More reading.  Appreciating the joys of less screen time - phone, computer and television.  Having a couple of surgical procedures.  Understanding the loss of people - literal loss from age/virus/diseases/accidents, and figurative loss of people who have cut ties.  And deeper things as mentioned in a previous post.

I traveled some.  I always went with the intent to partake in photos along the way.  And when I did, it almost always felt off, forced.  

The inhale was necessary.

Late last year, I'd started writing again, although entirely for my own benefit to record and make sense of my thoughts.  I got back into a meditation routine.  I took a long hiatus from social media (which is still partially in play, because it's been a really great experience).  And I took on a couple of photo jobs that exposed me to new genres I hadn't tried yet.  

It's coming back around.  

I've accepted the way of YouTube and virtual dance classes, despite the withdrawal for real classes.  I've started some pointework (yet again).  While not as meditative as a class in the studio would be, it helps.  It is taking me back to basics, and is making me feel strong.  My brain/body wants to create in that medium again.  And it's exercise.  

I WANT to start writing and blogging again for the first time in ages (I'm kicking myself in the backside for fully removing the original version of this blog and all its photos and entries).  I'm not planning on entries at specific intervals.  I'm not even planning the content.  The old version was travels and photos... and while I'm sure this new iteration will be that as well, my personal 'road less traveled' may not always deal with a literal road (or lack thereof) - instead, my road of ramblings, thoughts and experiences.

And even in the last few days, I've been compelled to get out with my camera - but, as luck would have it, I have a super-light weight restriction from an elbow procedure a week ago.  That will have to wait awhile longer. 

In the meantime, just keep breathing.

Just Breathe
North Shore - Lake Superior, Minnesota
© 2020 Jayme Spoolstra/YelloCoyote Photography

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