Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way (Edward de Bono)
I could feel it creeping up on me: this not caring. Words failed me and canvases stood waiting - blank.
I questioned my ability to live life as an artist - it wasn't like I was creating something. So I watched a lot of TV, washed a lot of clothes, did a lot of cleaning and for the most part, avoided the one part of me aching to be exercised: my heart. My words. My art.
In his book The Crowd, The Critic, The Muse, Michael Gungor writes about what it feels like to live as a creative. He says "only real things get to create things, not ghosts or phantoms. Dead souls do not produce the same stuff as living ones do."
And I get this. So much.
It's easy to fall into a rut - to experience burnout. It's easy because our culture believes to live numb is to live normal, and this is not okay.
As an artist, I know I'm about to burnout when I stop myself from feeling.
In order to avoid this, I break open my art journal sitting closed for too long on my desk. I do it even though sometimes, most times, it's the last thing I want to do because I know the honesty will hurt. I know the feelings and words and questions and doubt rallying for attention inside my heart will spill out unheeded.
I exhale paint and let it fall where it may. I pull out a canvas and scratch prayers on the blank space only to nail them down with color.
I sit and let myself read.
I let the words spill - regardless of what it looks like.
Usually, I get honest. Words start forming and suddenly I'm not tired anymore. Suddenly I'm aching for a pen and paper and writing, writing, writing until I'm absolutely spent because the emotions just keep coming and I have to capture it - have to grab those words while they're here.
But, I want to be honest. I want to know what it means to feel.
I don't want to be on autopilot.
I'm learning what this looks like for me - what it means to separate myself just enough to grab a breath before going deep once more. It's not always clean - not in the least. But it's good and it's holy, even if it's broken.
How do you fight autopilot? What keeps you from creating?