I’m at an age where I’ve begun to view my world from a historical perspective. I rather like that vantage point because I can apply my 20:20 hindsight to current events. What I see is women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s doing exactly what I did at those ages, saying what I said (and still say, although less frequently). “I’m too busy,” “I have too much to do,” “No time for that!” “Self-care is selfish.”
I get it because I’ve lived it. Raising a family, building a career, and being a business or life partner are all activities that can deplete your energy. All that dashing around, attending to the needs of others, and putting your dreams on the back burner for any reason dries you up. When you sit down for your “creative time,” you find there’s nothing left. All the good juice is gone, and what you really want to do is take a nap.
This is where I get to share the benefit of my historical perspective. (If any of the above sounds like you, pay attention. If it doesn’t, keep reading anyway. My mother always said, “You learn something new every day.”)
After a decade or more of delaying satisfaction of your needs, it becomes a habit. There’s always something else where you can place your attention instead of getting down to what you’ve declared you want to do. If that’s been your M.O. for any length of time, it’s not going to change on its own.
You’ll never find time for what you want; you must make time for yourself.
That’s only the first step because when you are busy, you’ll come to your creative space without your mojo. You’ll stare at a blank piece of paper or canvas; you’ll walk around with a camera and never lift it to shoot; you’ll open the refrigerator door and close it a dozen times without taking anything out (or worse, you’ll take everything out and eat it even though it’s not food you’re craving).
After 30 minutes, an hour, or a day, you’ll feel guilty for spending time without getting anything done. You’ll wonder if you’ll ever have another creative thought. You’ll doubt that what you once thought was creative, edgy and expressive was any good at all.
You'll think your muse has abandoned you. But it’s not true. You’ve spent so many years “doing” stuff, you’ve forgotten that your creativity is awakened only when you are still enough to connect with it inside you.
This absolutely still, “down” time is where the magic of imagination comes alive. You may call this process “meditating.” I call it “marinating.” I allow myself to freely soak up the creative juice from within and then release it later on the page.
“It takes skill to bring something you’ve imagined into the world. No one is born with that skill. It is developed through exercise, through repetition, through a blend of learning and reflection that’s both painstaking and rewarding. And it takes time.”—Twyla Tharp, choreographer
Dear writer, you are a visionary and your time is now—the only time there is. Start doing nothing and watch your world change.
Note: This post was originally written for the Every Woman Visionary series on WomanTalkLive.com and has been adapted for this blog.
Image: "Peaceful Morning at Beaver Lake" ©Gemignani
Text: ©Shelley Lieber